The Psychology of Mysticism


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The Psychology of Mysticism: A Contribution

In Galt's speech, Rand presented a theory about the psychological reasons for the rejection of reason. Like George Orwell before her, she identified mysticism (of either the spiritualist/religionist or naturalist/determinist variety) as being born of a refusal to come to terms with objective reality. In short, a mystic is someone that rejects reason because reason relies on the objectivity of reality, and it is this objectivity they refuse to acknowlege. Instead, mystics desire a world of metaphysical subjectivism; where consciousness creates (rather than perceives) existence.

According to Rand's theory, the mystics of spirit 'externalize' their desire for metaphysical subjectivism onto a god they have crafted in their own image. The mystics of muscle, on the other hand, are even more neurotic, in that they satisfy this desire by attempting to control consciousness (i.e. control others thoughts), believing that by controlling others beliefs that reality will shift to correspond to those beliefs. i.e. the mystics of muscle believe in a form of social metaphysics, where collective consciousness controls reality, and by manipulating that collective consciousness, reality will in turn be manipulated. As such, society is their replacement for god. It should be noted that, certainly in most mystics, these premises are very much subconscious, if not nonexistent. The theory only applies to fully-consistent mystics.

I wish to dispute some elements of this theory. I reject Rand's claim that the mystics of muscle are using 'society' as a detour to god. The proof of this is in the essay that follows. I wish to show it is not the mystics of muscle that collapse into the mystics of spirit, but rather the mystics of spirit collapsing into mystics of muscle.

Mystics Of Muscle

A "Mystic of Muscle" is a person who rejects reason in favor of a naturalistic factor. The classic example is Marxism, which rejects reason in favor of dialectical materialism (technically speaking, it says people are controlled by dialectical materialism, with reason being reserved for the small class of Marxist intellectuals). Other examples include Nazism, which replaces reason with a form of sociological conditioning based upon race, Skinnerism in psychology, which treats human beings as merely stimulus-response meat-machines controlled by operant conditioning, and neurological physiological reductionism, which denies humans have reason and free will and reduces their consciousness to brain chemicals (note how Objectivism considers the issues of free will and reason to be inseperable). These doctrines serve as (more or less) a rationale for imposing controls over society. Manifestly, the attitude is one of power-lust, with the advocates of these ideas universally reserving truth for themselves, declaring everyone else stupid, and demanding the crown of philosopher-king.

But why this lust for power over other people? Are not mystics meant to fundamentally want power over reality? Rand's answer; that the mystics believe controlling beliefs is controlling reality, is what I reject. I propose that mystics aren't interested in external reality at all. To quote Orwell's 1984, "'The second thing for you to realize is that power is power over human beings. Over the body - but above all over the mind. Power over matter - external reality, as you would call it, is not important...... reality is inside the skull" (O'Brien, the villain, speaking, p228). The reason I reject Rand's thesis is that metaphysical subjectivism of any kind is impossible to achieve. As such, no mystic can gain it. Therefore, they substitute this ideal for the next best thing; control of consciousness. At least at some level, they must realize (consciously or subconsciously) that they are failing to achieve their desire. This of course enhances feelings of impotence and weakness and failing, driving them more strongly to retreat from reality. Instead, they focus their efforts on control of others, denying the importance or existence of external reality in an attempt to avoid facing their own patheticness. Hence the self-aggrandizement, cult of personality, worship of the leader: its salve for the leader's psychological self-hate. The mystic hence derives his psychological satisfaction (and pseudo-self) from control of others. But the ultimate control of others is not control of their body but their mind. The mind, the most private part of the self, the ultimate control. If you can control that, you come the closest you possibly can to controlling reality. "Mind Control" is essentially "Diet Metaphysical Subjectivism," and since they cannot get the real thing, they get their contentment from the substitute.

Of course, the feelings of impotence, insecurity, etc will never be fully extinguished in the mystic. After all, a substitute is not the real thing. So the mind control is almost destined to get stronger, the leader demanding more dramatic shows of popular submission and popular agreement to reassert his control over 'their reality.' You can almost feel pity for such a sad, pathetic creature.

Mystics of Spirit

The Mystics of Spirit are those that subordinate reason to faith, divine revelation, or something else of the supernatural ilk. Religion, which subordinates reason to faith, is the most obvious example. The basic claim they make is that there is a superior reality, the 'real reality,' which reason is powerless to apprehend (and as such, reason cannot grasp 'true' knowlege). Thus, we must accept divine revelation as the source of knowlege.

This worldview (among its consistent adherents) promotes the idea that spirits, or a spirit, can re-shape reality at will. In short, that certain entities possess metaphysical subjectivism. It is upon this external personality, or personalities (all of them crafted in the image of human traits, such as "love" for the Christian interpretation of Jehovah, adulterousness for Zeus, sexiness for Venus, etc) that the internal desire for metaphysical subjectivism (usually a subconscious desire) is projected. As such, at least at the beginning of the syndrome, external reality does interest these mystics. However, their avatar of metaphysical subjectivism, their god, does not exist. As such, they will be confronted by a similar situation of doubt (or "crisis of faith") to a mystic of muscle. As such, it can be seen that wheras the mystic of muscle wishes, first and foremost, to control the consciousness (given that they quickly are discouraged from 'true' metaphysical subjectivism), the mystic of spirit wishes much more earnestly for primacy of conciousness.

Ultimately speaking, the mystics of spirit run into a similar problem to the mystics of muscle: its not working! They expect a megaphone from the sky, and get nothing of the sort. This crisis of faith makes them desperate to find true believers like them, to make them more convinced of their righteousness (hence collective congregations). In addition, they are driven mad by the 'sin' they see around them, since they believe if their god exists, the vice-ridden should be wiped off the face of the earth. Since San Francisco is still standing, their faith in God's justice is shaken (see the current state of conservative "god hates fags"ism for more details). As such, they demand their 'values' legislated into law. In addition, owing to their need of collective group-reinforcement of their delusion, they try to spread their faith, by force if needed (see the Conquistadors, and current evangelical preaching-politics for additional details). As such, they lose interest in external reality, caring only about what others think. They descend into the same mind-control mentality as the mystics of muscle, not as a means to attain their metaphysical subjectivism, but as substitute. The next best thing.

Possible Problems

This theory I have proposed may have several problems. For example, like the Rand theory, it probably does not describe actual beliefs. It describes the psychological consequences of perfectly consistent and internalized practice of the theory, assuming that Rand's basic psychological premise (cognitivism, or that feelings follow thoughts) is correct. I agree with cognitivism, however I can see that perfectly consistent mystics are extremely rare.

Second, following from above, not every mystic philosophy is explicitly metaphysically subjectivist. By this, I mean not all philosophies that require metaphysical subjectivism due to their premises actually advocate metaphysical subjectivism. For example, Marxism's subjectivity is based on a derivative of Kantian skepticism (the belief that the mind of the subject is conditioned (hence rendered irrational and incapable of perceiving things as they are) by their material factors). It is because this theory is false that the only other way it could be true is if polylogism were true. Since logic depends on metaphysical axioms, the only way to support polylogism is to support multiple socially-subjective realities (one for each economic caste). Also, it is important to look at skepticism as a whole. Skepticism is the claim that we cannot reach objective knowlege. However this does not mean that reality is not real, it simply means we are incapable of knowing it. Yes, this is a self-contradicting idea, but the fact remains that it demonstrates that one can reject reason without rejecting reality (except by philosophical implication, however I am talking about the beliefs of a person). This problem applies also to Rand's original theory.

Third, there are a number of reasons people turn to mysticism. Many adopt religion not because they want to be free from reality, but because they want to be free from something unpleasant in their lives and think religion offers a way out. Some of the mystics of muscle may have power lust driven not by desire to control reality, but by some other motive (revenge, sadism, lots of other fun reasons!).

Finally, there may be an intriguing possibility regarding my theory. A long-standing interpretation of philosophical history is that it is a debate between Platonists (those that believe in a superior reality) and Aristotelians (those that believe this reality is the only one). In the modern ages, the Aristotelians won the debate on metaphysics. However, the debate then changed from metaphysics to epistemology, with the debate focussing not on this world versus the next, but the world we perceive versus the world as it is. The former, the modern Platonists, say that the world that we see is not the world as it is, denying us the possibility of objective truth. The latter, the modern Aristotelians, say that the world we perceive is not shockingly distorted by our senses and as such objective truth can still be reached. The modern Platonists are best represented by Kant (or at least the skeptical interpretation of Kant) and his intellectual offspring; the German Idealists. The modern Aristotelians, however, have few representatives. I would allege that John Locke and the British Empiricists, as well as Karl Popper (who strangely enough had a remarkably similar theory of universals to Rand), are the only representatives whose work is frequently analyzed by academia. However, the number of modern Platonists is many times larger, as is their output (even though their output is often trash). Rand is obviously a modern Aristotelian. Most importantly, however, is that her argument for direct realism (which has been significantly extended and defended by David Kelley in "The Evidence of the Senses") demolishes the Kantian noumena-phenomena split, and her empirically-based solution to the problem of universals demolishes Kant's partial apriorism (his "categories of experience"). Rand could provide the basis for the counterattack to Kant that the modern Aristotelians need. However, in this context (of the 'battle of epistemology' as the sequel to the 'battle of metaphysics'), it may shed some light on mystic psychology.

The mystics of spirit follow belief systems that have survived from Platonic-Aristotelian times, or even longer. And as stated in my theory, they are the ones more interested in pure metaphysical subjectivism. Could it be that the psychological mindset of the mystics of spirit is still fundamentally locked in that era of metaphysical debate? Certainly, that explains their (relatively) greater interest in pure metaphysical subjectivism, and is compatible with the age of religious systems. Also, could the mystics of muscle be based in the modern debate over epistemology? For one, the two philosophers who were most influential to Marxism and Fascism (being Hegel and Fichte respectively) were both German Idealists and hence intellectual descendants of Kant. In addition, it certainly would explain the relatively minor interest in pure metaphysical subjectivism (i.e. they dont persist in defeat as long as a mystic of spirit).

Conclusion

What I am certain of, regarding the psychology of mystics, is that even though it may be philosophically a revolt against the objectivity of reality (at least by implication), in most cases the mystic is not actually someone with a psychological grudge against existence, let alone an elaborate scheme to enslave other people to have them change reality to meet said mystics whim. However, I am convinced Rand's theory as well as my own (which is based on Rand's) pick up on at least some truth. First, it seems obvious that power lust is a factor, at least in the case of the mystics of muscle. The philosopher-king attitudes of many statist academics demonstrate this beyond refute. Further, I am convinced by both Rand and Orwell, as well as by the 'battle in epistemology' argument, that the mystics of muscle obviously have a very large interest in thought control of sorts. As an example, political correctness, which controls language to control thought (and, like Newspeak in 1984, is based on the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis). In regards to the mystics of spirit, I believe that they truly require their god delusion to be maintained with the 'collective delusion' means, and that this can easily collapse into mind control and thought policing and sodomy laws (admittedly, to this writer at least, sodomy is not a particularly appealing practice, however that under no circumstances means it should be a matter of public policy!). I believe this general tendency explains how certain religious people are fond of the idea of federally enforcing their values as well as religion's general history of persecution.

As such, I think more research has to be done on these points. While Ayn Rand's theory of mystic psychology is valid for purely consistent mystics, and picks up on some very important points (for example, the idea that the 'virus' begins with taking the judgement of others over ones own (I am not sure if this is universally correct, but certainly many people do display taking the judgement of others above their own and it certainly is a terribly evil, suicidal practice), it does not seem particularly likely to explain many real mystics. My innovations to Rand's theory, while I contend they may be more accurate, are certainly not immune from the problem either. I hope that Objectivists will look into this area more. It is often said, for example by the Brandens, that Objectivist psychological theory makes very strong generalizations and assumptions about how someone will be if they practice certain philosophies. Whilst I do think the cognitivist basis of Objectivist psychology is correct, I also believe that Rand's pronouncements on the psychological effects of the three 'psycho-philosophical archetypes' (Mystic of Muscle-Attilla-Materialist-Disintegrated/Mystic of Spirit-Witch Doctor-Spiritualist-Misintegrated/Integrated-Objectivist-Hero) were, to say the least, very simplified. I hope that this can be fixed and I hope my speculations above can contribute.

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The Psychology of Mysticism: A Contribution

In Galt's speech, Rand presented a theory about the psychological reasons for the rejection of reason. Like George Orwell before her, she identified mysticism (of either the spiritualist/religionist or naturalist/determinist variety) as being born of a refusal to come to terms with objective reality. In short, a mystic is someone that rejects reason because reason relies on the objectivity of reality, and it is this objectivity they refuse to acknowlege. Instead, mystics desire a world of metaphysical subjectivism; where consciousness creates (rather than perceives) existence.

Why do you use the term "objective reality". Reality is that which exists independent of our will or presence so it is ipso facto objective. The phrases "objective reality" and "facts of reality" are redundant.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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The Psychology of Mysticism: A Contribution

In Galt's speech, Rand presented a theory about the psychological reasons for the rejection of reason. Like George Orwell before her, she identified mysticism (of either the spiritualist/religionist or naturalist/determinist variety) as being born of a refusal to come to terms with objective reality. In short, a mystic is someone that rejects reason because reason relies on the objectivity of reality, and it is this objectivity they refuse to acknowlege. Instead, mystics desire a world of metaphysical subjectivism; where consciousness creates (rather than perceives) existence.

Why do you use the term "objective reality". Reality is that which exists independent of our will or presence so it is ipso facto objective. The phrases "objective reality" and "facts of reality" are redundant.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Rand said the same thing, but explained that these terms are used for emphasis in certain contexts.

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  • 2 years later...

Those are just two sides of the same damned coin. The principle is: they create reality instead of perceiving it. They reverse the law of causality.

David:

As Shane, one of the board posters under sbeaulieu, has noted:

"A coin has three (3) sides."

I really like that approach.

Adam

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"A coin has three (3) sides."

What do you or Shane means by this Adam?

Since we are obviously talking about cuckoo and knuckleheads here, it would be quite helpful to at least apply some theories regarding their psychodynamics. I think, the phrase, "It takes one to know one..." is very helpful in this sense and Freud's theory came to mind but I shall not want to use this (anymore).

Interview with a cult leader

The link above is a clear example of a Mystic of the Spirit since it is a cult but I do see similarities between him (a witch doctor) and your common thug in a way that as far as I can see, they rely on Dishonesty and Indolence and Indifference (which I see are very intertwined).

Dishonesty in the sense that in each step of logic, they attempt to screen out certain facts to make their reasoning coherent at the very least. Since they do not consciously know how they got there, they leave it at that and that is also how they present it. This is where indolence and indifference take cue as they simply don't care and they don't want to pursue the proper logical steps required to make a valid conclusion.

What they do not know or fail to acknowledge (to some degree) is that the only kind that fall for their tricks enough to subscribe to their way of thinking are people similar to them. However, even when they band together, their "collective efforts" cannot still make sense of what's around them (reality), much less control it.

This is where the men of reason fall victim to. They acknowledge the fact that they are fallible but that they can improve on and on, understanding and truly controlling reality around them. At the same time, they extend this to others, believing that they as Man have the same nature. This kind of optimism is their downfall since they trust too eagerly on what they know to be decent and similar human beings when in fact, they are not.

At this point forward, these mystics have an inkling of how men of reason operates to some extent. Since my hypothesis is that they do use logic but try to escape the law of identification at one step or another. They realize that these men are what they "need" and for some reason their appeals (emotion, force) work as long as they (mystics) make it look like they are grateful for what these seemingly "gods of reality" can do and share with them.

Nonetheless, given the nature of these creatures they start to want what those men have but it is already too late. They find out that they cannot, because of their long enduring habits, fulfill this desire. Their desire turns into frustration and into envy.

I should like to expound but I can't quite place a firm grasp this abstract sludge yet (or I subconsciously don't want to). Please, do try to continue or refute this train of thought.

Edited by David Lee
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I was taking a shower when I realized this: Even at their purpose, the mystics try to escape the law of identity and reverse the law of causality. That is, they do not mean anything or rather, nothing, nothing at all (blank-out phenomenon)

Let's see...(tell me if I missed a spot) Money is a concrete representation of an abstraction of man's ability and competence. It refers to the product of man's reasoning mind i.e. from understanding reality and controlling it. *I'll use this later.

These scum wants is not to gain anything from you but rather, destroy everything valuable to man's existence. Whether by using guilt, pity or force, they only desire nothingness. They want to exist like the men of the mind does but cowers in fear of what will happen when they assume independence but instead see nothing but loneliness and despair.

For example:

When they say equality, they don't mean equally rich or successful (since they cannot achieve it!) they want everyone to be miserable and helpless.

When they say "loyalty", they don't mean following the steps of a competent man, they want you to give up independence.

When they say they want (or need) your money, they don't really want to use it as a means to be happy, they just want you to feel incapable so you cannot go to work anymore. In the end, they want you to give up your competence as they are indolent moochers who cannot produce. They are incompetent.

When they say they need your love, they do not mean your expression of your highest values or affection or tribute to glory... No, they want you to like their errors instead of the capacity to rise and learn from there.

Whether a priest or a thug says these things (and many other bullshit) know that they are and will always be liars by nature.

Also, I think that knowing their nature is far enough. We, the men of reason do not gain anything from delving into their madness. By acknowledging their requests, you give them equal footing.

As Galt said what they seek is our consent, our affirmation that they exist.

I, for one, retract that. Leave them to their own devices and see their nature when they shed their husks.

Edited by David Lee
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Usually religions gain supporters thru being “born” into a religious family, or converts. Yet there must be a common psychological thread between those “born into” and those “born again.”

Consider the following two sentences.

I am not superstitious. I think I will take it up.

Is that possible? Can a non-mystic become mystical? I don’t think so. When the astronauts first looked back at the earth and felt a sense of awe, no new mystics were created.

The exception might be idiots who take psychedelics. They apparently can destroy their critical faculties and become . . . less than they were.

I see a growing sense of secularism in America. Fewer are affiliated with any organized religion, so fewer children are born into insanity.

Let there be light - the light of reason.

Semper cogitans fidele,

Peter Taylor

From: Chris Matthew Sciabarra <chris.sciabarra@nyu.edu>

To: Atlantis* <atlantis@wetheliving.com>

Subject: ATL: Rand and Christ

Date: Thu, 26 Dec 2002 15:01:07 -0500

I happen to look at the current threads on Christianity and just wanted to offer these interesting quotes from Ayn Rand herself.

In two superb articles for THE INTELLECTUAL ACTIVIST, "Artist at Work: Ayn Rand's Drafts for THE FOUNTAINHEAD" (August, September 2001), Shoshana Milgram explains that in Rand's early drafts, she "originally had Roark provide a list of creators and an inventory of their suffering." (The drafts are currently held in the Madison Building of The Library of Congress.) Rand writes:

"Socrates, poisoned by order of the democracy of Athens. Jesus Christ against the majority of [indecipherable] crucified. Joan D'Arc, who was burned at the stake. Galileo, made to renounce his soul. Spinoza, excommunicated. Luther, hounded. Victor Hugo, exiled for twenty years. Richard Wagner, writing musical comedies for a living, denounced by the musicians of his time, hissed, opposed, pronounced unmusical. Tchaikovsky, struggling through years of loneliness without recognition. Nietzsche, dying in an insane asylum, friendless and unheard. Ibsen [indecipherable] his own country. Dostoevsky, facing an execution squad and pardoned to a Siberian prison. The list is endless."

For a variety of reasons, Rand eliminated this list from Roark's speech, but the list is interesting in any event. Rand also says, quite provocatively, in her early drafts that "Christ proclaimed the untouchable integrity of Man's spirit [stating] the first rights of the Ego. He placed the salvation of one's own soul above all other concerns. But men distorted it into altruism." She expands on this in her LETTERS (July 9, 1946), where she tells a fan (Sylvia Austin) that "Jesus was one of the first great teachers to proclaim the basic principle of individualism---the inviolate sanctity of man's soul, and the salvation of one's soul as one's first concern and highest goal; this means---one's ego and the integrity of one's ego." She states, however, that "Jesus (or perhaps His [Rand capitalizes "His"] interpreters) gave men a code of altruism, that is, a code which told them that in order to save one's soul, one must love or help or ~live for~ others."

So, yes, Rand recognizes an internal contradiction here (even if she's not ready to place all the responsibility on Jesus himself)---but this does not come at the expense of an historical appreciation of the importance of early Christian thought in advancing the individualist message.

Happy holidays, a healthy and happy new year to all,

Chris

===================================

Chris Matthew Sciabarra

Visiting Scholar, NYU Department of Politics

726 Broadway, 7th floor

New York, New York 10003

Dialectics & Liberty Website:

http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra

The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies:

http://www.aynrandstudies.com

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Peter:

Out of curiosity, when you use the term psychedelics, could you be specific as to what constitutes a psychedelic?

Secondly, by mystical, you mean________________.

Adam

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Interesting set of ideas you pulled together regarding mysticism and Objectivism. Check this out:

The basic claim they make is that there is a superior reality, the 'real reality,' which reason is powerless to apprehend (and as such, reason cannot grasp 'true' knowlege). Thus, we must accept divine revelation as the source of knowlege

Rather than go mystic, let's look at the experience of human life for a moment and compare that experience to a "reason"-oriented or conceptual view:

Humans relate to other humans through empathy, through a totally unique experience that has nothing to do with how one weighs the value of human life conceptually or emotionally. The experiential ability to relate to others, lacking in some people, is representative of reality as that reality pertains to human beings. Can the experience of empathy be easily explained in purely conceptual terms? Can being tickled be easily related in conceptual terms? Not really, but whereas being tickled doesn't divulge an experience of how reality "is," empathic experience to human life does divulge the experience is representative of reality.

I think spirituality is along the same vein. Our mind has various ways of apprehending reality, and the more information we receive from various processes of apprehension, the more "accurately" we apprehend reality. Therefore, I think this quote is interesting that you posted, but I think it is misunderstood right from the get-go.

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Usually religions gain supporters thru being “born” into a religious family, or converts. Yet there must be a common psychological thread between those “born into” and those “born again.”

Consider the following two sentences.

I am not superstitious. I think I will take it up.

Is that possible? Can a non-mystic become mystical? I don’t think so. When the astronauts first looked back at the earth and felt a sense of awe, no new mystics were created.

The exception might be idiots who take psychedelics. They apparently can destroy their critical faculties and become . . . less than they were.

I see a growing sense of secularism in America. Fewer are affiliated with any organized religion, so fewer children are born into insanity.

Let there be light - the light of reason.

Semper cogitans fidele,

Peter Taylor

From: Chris Matthew Sciabarra <chris.sciabarra@nyu.edu>

To: Atlantis* <atlantis@wetheliving.com>

Subject: ATL: Rand and Christ

Date: Thu, 26 Dec 2002 15:01:07 -0500

I happen to look at the current threads on Christianity and just wanted to offer these interesting quotes from Ayn Rand herself.

In two superb articles for THE INTELLECTUAL ACTIVIST, "Artist at Work: Ayn Rand's Drafts for THE FOUNTAINHEAD" (August, September 2001), Shoshana Milgram explains that in Rand's early drafts, she "originally had Roark provide a list of creators and an inventory of their suffering." (The drafts are currently held in the Madison Building of The Library of Congress.) Rand writes:

"Socrates, poisoned by order of the democracy of Athens. Jesus Christ against the majority of [indecipherable] crucified. Joan D'Arc, who was burned at the stake. Galileo, made to renounce his soul. Spinoza, excommunicated. Luther, hounded. Victor Hugo, exiled for twenty years. Richard Wagner, writing musical comedies for a living, denounced by the musicians of his time, hissed, opposed, pronounced unmusical. Tchaikovsky, struggling through years of loneliness without recognition. Nietzsche, dying in an insane asylum, friendless and unheard. Ibsen [indecipherable] his own country. Dostoevsky, facing an execution squad and pardoned to a Siberian prison. The list is endless."

For a variety of reasons, Rand eliminated this list from Roark's speech, but the list is interesting in any event. Rand also says, quite provocatively, in her early drafts that "Christ proclaimed the untouchable integrity of Man's spirit [stating] the first rights of the Ego. He placed the salvation of one's own soul above all other concerns. But men distorted it into altruism." She expands on this in her LETTERS (July 9, 1946), where she tells a fan (Sylvia Austin) that "Jesus was one of the first great teachers to proclaim the basic principle of individualism---the inviolate sanctity of man's soul, and the salvation of one's soul as one's first concern and highest goal; this means---one's ego and the integrity of one's ego." She states, however, that "Jesus (or perhaps His [Rand capitalizes "His"] interpreters) gave men a code of altruism, that is, a code which told them that in order to save one's soul, one must love or help or ~live for~ others."

So, yes, Rand recognizes an internal contradiction here (even if she's not ready to place all the responsibility on Jesus himself)---but this does not come at the expense of an historical appreciation of the importance of early Christian thought in advancing the individualist message.

Happy holidays, a healthy and happy new year to all,

Chris

===================================

Chris Matthew Sciabarra

Visiting Scholar, NYU Department of Politics

726 Broadway, 7th floor

New York, New York 10003

Dialectics & Liberty Website:

http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra

The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies:

http://www.aynrandstudies.com

Peter:

I don't think so as well. Since religion is a type of philosophy attempting to explain the universe to man or the relationship of the two, your sentences could be restated as a person who was born into a certain religion (as was his family I suppose) and then grew up to depart from mysticism.

I am tired and won't take anymore of this superstitious bull... I know for a fact... and I can do so much better without the fear of and practice of... So I'm getting out...

I think that one who grew up in mystic crap but saw through the shenanigan of religion decides to get out because it's a waste of time. The system is not working anymore and is in fact, trying to bring everyone down.

In the case of astronauts, what they must have seen and felt is similar to when you stand on high ground and see from a distance that everything is within one's grasp. Also, I think it was mentioned there that they see the mark of man so clearly stamped on this planet that it was an emotional affirmation of, "Yes, it is within my grasp and it has and always will be..."

As for drugs you are correct yet again, it is the use of psychedelic drugs that distort one's perception of reality and makes them more prone to believe in mysticism than they were as idiots. Those idiots who only seek shortcuts to knowledge are the masses that subscribe to those offering a shortcut through the forest - straight to a cliff. The only requirement: blindfold yourself and let them guide you.

It is interesting to note that Rand saw Jesus (or whatever his actual name was) as an example (metaphorical if not literal) of an egoist whose message was distorted by his disciples which I vaguely remember he called "dull" more than once? No wonder I imagine John Galt as an allusion to this person. I'm still trying to discover the process how I came to that conclusion but at least I know that a trustworthy person already got there.

Edited by David Lee
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  • 2 weeks later...

I am tired of Mysticism, so I will diverge.

How often have we heard someone extol altruism as the Supreme Virtue? Not just from Kant but from Christian pulpits and Religious Conservatives. “Sacrifice yourself,” we are told because, “We are all God’s children.” The sentence, “Share your toys,” from parents later in life, becomes share your hard earned wealth. If an altruist wants to help a pan handler or give to the Sisters of Mercy, that is their business, as long as they do not neglect their own families. Only the supposed Altruist also want to make YOU give up what you have earned.

I have heard the psychological argument that altruists are really just doing what they want to do for selfish reasons, like those of us with more, non-repressed, “sound” mentalities. The argument sounds like the rebuttal of Determinism argument from Barbara Branden, which was later stolen by Libertarian Communist (I have his words as proof,) piece of crap, Murray Rothbard. I don’t have Barbara’s Master’s Thesis handy but I do have Rothbard’s quote. And to be fair, the basic argument against determinism vs. volition was used by Kant and Blanchard too, but Barbara’s is the refined, latter-day, version.

Anyway here is Rothbard’s plagiarized version. Just juxtapose the concepts Altruism and Selfishness for Determinism and Volition. With a bit of tweaking this argument could refute Altruism at least in a personal, psychological sense, though not philosophically. It’s not a big point I am making but it is just a “Curiosity” to me, that Volition is required to be Altruistic *psychologically*. Do we take the Altruist at their word that they are not selfish people - in the closet?

An excerpt from the article, "The Mantle of Science," published in the anthology *Scientism and Values* (ed. Schoeck and Wiggins, Van Nostrand, 1960), by Murray Rothbard:

"If we are determined in the ideas we accept, then X, the determinist, is determined to believe in determinism, while Y, the believer in free will, is also determined to believe in his own doctrine. Since man's mind is, according to determinism, not free to think and come to conclusions about reality, it is absurd for X to try to convince Y or anyone else of the truth of determinism. In short, the determinist must rely, for the spread of his ideas, on the nondetermined, free-will choice of others, on their free will to adopt or reject ideas.

. . . In fact, if our ideas are determined, then we have no way of freely revising our judgments and of learning truth -- whether the truth of determinism or of anything else.

"Thus, the determinist, to advocate his doctrine, must place himself and his theory outside the allegedly universally determined realm, i.e., he must employ free will. This reliance of determinism on its negation is an instance of a wider truth: that it is self-contradictory to use reason in any attempt to deny the validity of reason as a means of attaining knowledge. Such self-contradiction is implicit in such currently fashionable sentiments as 'reason shows us that reason is weak,' or 'the more we know, the more we know how little we know.'" (pp. 161-2)

END QUOTE

In a similar fashion, we must ask the individual for proof of altruism vs selfishness. If the Altruist claims they consciously sacrificed themselves to another for unselfish reasons rather than because, “they really wanted to,” it is like telling them that logically they could not have done so. I thought of this when I was thinking about David’s fictional “Charity.”

What say you?

Semper cogitans fidele,

Peter Taylor

Danger! Additional, Olde letters follow. They may, or may not, be relevant. Read at your own risk.

NOTES:

From: BBfromM@aol.com

To: atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: ATL: Murray Rothbard and Ayn Rand

Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2001 06:04:37 EST

Ellen Lewitt wrote me off-list, asking some questions about Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard, and saying I might send my reply to Atlantis if I wished.

Here is my reply:

<< You asked if the rumor -- about Ayn Rand telling Murray Rothbard he must divorce his wife because she was religious -- was untrue. It was totally untrue. I was present at each of the (very few) meetings between Ayn Rand and Murray, and no such thing ever happened. Besides, it would have been totally out of character for her: she never told one spouse what he or she ought to do with regard to the other spouse.

To answer your other questions:

Murray was never at all close with Ayn Rand. Despite his writings to the contrary, he met with her only a few times -- because she disliked him from their first meeting. When I later interviewed him for THE PASSION OF AYN RAND, he spoke to me about their meetings, clearly acknowledging that this -- that they met only a few times -- was true; obviously, he knew that I knew the truth, and that he could not pretend with me. I have the entire interview on tape.

Murray did not leave of his own choice. He had written an article (I forget for which publication) in which he clearly plagiarized my Master's thesis on the subject of free will -- that is, he used my arguments without giving me credit for them. Nathaniel asked him to rectify this, perhaps in a letter to the editor of the publication; he would not have had to admit to plagiarism, but could say something to the effect that he had neglected to credit me. He refused, denying the obvious fact that he had plagiarized me -- and we ended our relationship with him.>>

Barbara

From: "Reidy, Peter" <Peter.Reidy@usa.xerox.com>

To: atlantis@wetheliving.com

Subject: ATL: RE: Murray Rothbard and Ayn Rand

Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2001 09:17:43 -0800

Barbara Branden writes that Rothbard "had written an article (I forget for which publication) in which he clearly plagiarized my Master's thesis on the subject of free will-that is, he used my arguments without giving me credit for them... He refused [to admit this], denying the obvious fact that he had plagiarized me-and we ended our relationship with him."

If this was the argument Nathaniel Branden has used several times in his lectures and writings (the determinist thesis is self-refuting because, if it were true, the most a determinist could say is that circumstances forced him to believe it, not that he had rational grounds for so believing), then, as ATL veterans will have read, old debbil Kant had used it about 150 years earlier, and Brand Blanshard presented it in "The Nature of Thought" before anyone in the Rand circle.

Peter

From: "George H. Smith" <smikro@earthlink.net>

Reply-To: "George H. Smith" <smikro@earthlink.net>

To: "*Atlantis" <atlantis@wetheliving.com>

Subject: ATL: Re: Murray Rothbard and Ayn Rand

Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2001 18:23:16 -0600

Greg Johnson wrote:

"On the question of whether Murray Rothbard plagiarized from Barbara Branden's MA thesis, Peter Reidy writes that the "old debbil Kant had used it [the argument given by Nathaniel Branden and credited by him to Barbara, to wit that determinism is self-refuting] about 150 years earlier, and Brand Blanshard presented it in "The Nature of Thought" before anyone in the Rand circle." I do not, however, think that this is a relevant point, for two reasons.

"First, when I read the essay in question long before hearing about the plagiarism charges, I was struck that not only were the ideas the same as those expressed by Nathaniel Branden (I did not know their connection to Barbara at the time), but they were FORMULATED in almost exactly the same words . . .

continuing with Ghs letter:

. . . Murray originally got these arguments from Barbara Branden's dissertation, but he didn't want to use a Randian source because, this being intended as a scholarly article, he felt that such a cite would appear disreputable. Thus, as Greg noted, he went searching for other sources that provided similar arguments. The irony is that he chose Thomistic texts, such as those by Phillips and Toohey, that had no more academic respectability than an Objectivist source would have had.

Unfortunately, Murray pulled a similar stunt with his book, *The Ethics of Liberty.* The original manuscript had many citations to the legal scholar Randy Barnett. But later, after Murray and Randy had an ideological split of sorts --one stemming from a paper ("Justice Entrepreneurship in a Free Market") that I delivered at a Princeton conference in 1978 -- Murray deleted many (though not all) of the references to Randy in the published version of his book.

Instead, Murray hired a friend of mine to comb scholarly journals in an effort to find other cites that could be substituted for Randy's. My friend delivered the goods, and Murray used these references without even consulting them.

Greg wrote:

"Aside from the fact that he was "getting even" with Rand and the Brandens for calling him a plagiarist, I am sure that he thought--in a social metaphysical vein--that these would be more "respectable" citations than the MA thesis of Barbara Branden. Apparently Rothbard was so morally confused that he did not realize that this was tantamount to an admission of plagiarism. After all, one is a plagiarist if one does not cite the actual source of one's ideas. It does not matter if this source was not the originator of the idea in question. And one is still a plagiarist if one cites other works that were NOT where one learned the idea in question.'

In my opinion, it is a moot question whether it is technically plagiarism not to cite the source from which one originally learned an idea, when that selfsame idea was advanced by others *prior* the source in question. As other posters have pointed out, Objectivists were not the first to advance the argument that strict determinism is self-contradictory and therefore self-refuting. (Indeed, this has been a fairly common argument throughout the history of the free-will debate.) I can think of circumstances where it would be proper *not* to mention such a source -- for instance, if one learned of an idea by reading a general history of philosophy and then went back and consulted the original philosopher -- but in this case there is no good reason why Murray should not have cited Barbara's dissertation. His behavior was best extremely petty at best, as was his later treatment of Randy Barnett.

On a different but related issue -- I had a similar reaction to the fact that Ayn Rand deleted Nathaniel Branden from her dedication in later (post-split) printings of *Atlas Shrugged.* I faced a similar situation with my first book, *Atheism: The Case Against God,* which was dedicated, "To Diane, for the tender moments." By the time the book went to press, however, Diane and I had undergone a bitter split and were barely on speaking terms. Thus, in one of my less-than-tender moments, I considered omitting this dedication altogether, since it seemed so incongruous at the time. But I decided to let it stand, reasoning that the dedication reflected a past relationship and that to delete it would have been to falsify history, in effect.

This was the right thing to do, and I have never regretted that decision.

Ghs

Edited by Peter Taylor
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  • 11 years later...
Posted (edited)
On 6/22/2007 at 10:37 PM, studiodekadent said:

Mystics of Spirit

The Mystics of Spirit are those that subordinate reason to faith, divine revelation, or something else of the supernatural ilk. Religion, which subordinates reason to faith, is the most obvious example. The basic claim they make is that there is a superior reality, the 'real reality,' which reason is powerless to apprehend (and as such, reason cannot grasp 'true' knowlege). Thus, we must accept divine revelation as the source of knowlege.

I was looking for a place to plonk the headline below, snatched from the Science Daily RSS feed. I thought it might belong under Epistemology but Psychology topics seem more pertinent. I could have posted it under topic "Is Psychology a Science," but hey.

I am not really sure there are findings, but the question posed seem amenable to Objectivist inquiry.

Is deference to supernatural beings present in infancy?

If parents and other large looming humans cosseting and cooing over your infant self appear akin to gods, you can't be blamed, can you? 

Edited by william.scherk
In it innit
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Since the muscle mystics are coming into dominance, this is a good place for a refresher: William, thanks for the thread revival.

"Mystics of Spirit and of Muscle"

As products of the split between man’s soul and body, there are two kinds of teachers of the Morality of Death: the mystics of spirit and the mystics of muscle, whom you call the spiritualists and the materialists, those who believe in consciousness without existence and those who believe in existence without consciousness. Both demand the surrender of your mind, one to their revelations, the other to their reflexes. No matter how loudly they posture in the roles of irreconcilable antagonists, their moral codes are alike, and so are their aims: in matter—the enslavement of man’s body, in spirit—the destruction of his mind.

The good, say the mystics of spirit, is God, a being whose only definition is that he is beyond man’s power to conceive—a definition that invalidates man’s consciousness and nullifies his concepts of existence. The good, say the mystics of muscle, is Society—a thing which they define as an organism that possesses no physical form, a super-being embodied in no one in particular and everyone in general except yourself. Man’s mind, say the mystics of spirit, must be subordinated to the will of God. Man’s mind, say the mystics of muscle, must be subordinated to the will of Society. Man’s standard of value, say the mystics of spirit, is the pleasure of God, whose standards are beyond man’s power of comprehension and must be accepted on faith. Man’s standard of value, say the mystics of muscle, is the pleasure of Society, whose standards are beyond man’s right of judgment and must be obeyed as a primary absolute. The purpose of man’s life, say both, is to become an abject zombie who serves a purpose he does not know, for reasons he is not to question. His reward, say the mystics of spirit, will be given to him beyond the grave. His reward, say the mystics of muscle, will be given on earth—to his great-grandchildren.

Selfishness—say both—is man’s evil. Man’s good—say both—is to give up his personal desires, to deny himself, renounce himself, surrender; man’s good is to negate the life he lives. Sacrifice—cry both—is the essence of morality, the highest virtue within man’s reach.

Galt’s Speech,
For the New Intellectual

 

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