Objectivist Ethics, the Empathic Perspective and Manners


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Objectivist Ethics, the Empathic Perspective and Manners

In my mind, the need for manners comes from the ethical principle that individuals should be considered as ends in themselves, not the means to anyone else’s ends. This concept, of course, is the foundation of Objectivist ethics and politics.

The only time it is right to use someone else as a means to one’s own ends is when they choose to of their own volition; when it is in their interests. There are four ways to motivate another person to act in one’s own interests, two are ethical (in that person’s interests) and two are unethical (against that person’s interests). The two that are unethical are coercion and deception. The two ethical ways to motivate another to act in one’s own interests are: a) to offer a mutual exchange of values– eg. I will do something for you if you do something for me; and B) to ask another to have an interest in acting on one’s own interests.

Objectivism has identified and examined the dynamics of the first of these ethical ways of motivating another to act in one’s own interests but has not done a satisfactory job of the second. Objectivism has not satisfactorily identified and examined the dynamics of acting on another’s behalf without mutual exchange.

Of course there is the idea of, “What goes around, comes around.” We can see the above second ethical motivation in terms of deferred mutual exchange but that is not what motivates a person to act on another’s interests. It may be the rationalization for it but it’s not what motivates it. We can see such motivation in terms of creating a better social context to exist in but, again, this is not what moves a person to act on another’s behalf. We can think of this motivation in terms of the self image it enables us to create but, while a value, our future self-image is not generally what motivates helping behaviour in the moment. We can understand this motivation in terms of another person’s interests being encompassed in our own values. While this moves us closer to what motivates us to act on the interests of another, it is not a bullseye.

Why did I stop to help a stranger struggling with her arms full of groceries and trying to get the trunk of her car open the other day? The above rational considerations make great justifications but lousy motivations. I helped her because, in that moment, I experienced her point of view. Her perspective was empathically generated inside of me and I was motivated by my experience of what she was experiencing. I helped her, smiled and said, “I know, sometimes we don’t have enough hands.” She said, “Thank-you!” I responded with, “You’re welcome,” and walked away. While I felt pretty good about what I did, I did it without any desire for personal gain from the interaction. And yet it felt very much like acting in my self-interest.

When I ask people to do something for me without exchange– whether I am asking my wife, my kids, my friends, or a stranger– I am asking them to consider my perspective, to treat my interests as a value to them, and to expend energy on my behalf. This is the purpose of manners. Manners are used to convey the reality that another person does not have to act on my behalf. It is a request that another consider my perspective, respond to it, and choose to act on his/her empathic experience of my experience.

I despise the idea of trading in favours. A favour is an action motivated by an understanding of someone else’s perspective. I’ve always said, “If I do you a favour, I consider it already paid for.” Although this does not capture my meaning very precisely, it conveys the idea that a favour is never owed. If I do something for another person with no direct benefit motivating my behaviour, it’s because I am acting on my own responses to my own experience, even if it was empathically generated. I am owed no debt. Don’t reciprocate when circumstances indicate such action, though, and see if I continue to allow myself to care about, and pay attention to, your experience. An empathic experience of an unempathic person tends to turn off further empathy.

Identifying, integrating and embracing one’s own empathic perspective has not been a strong point for Objectivism. The empathic perspective is a specific orientation of consciousness that processes the information of the senses in a certain way. The empathic perspective can be the root of many Objectivist evils: Social Metaphysics, altruism, collectivism, etc. Unfortunately, Rand and most Objectivists, in discarding these Objectivist evils, have disowned the empathic perspective within that is the source of these evils. However, this perspective, in and of itself, is not evil. It is simply a mode of processing the information of the senses; a mode that provides us with valuable information about reality. Disowning this information takes it away from conscious processing, making it a demon of our subconscious motivations.

The disowning of the empathic perspective is one of the factors involved in some of the behaviour we see on other Objectivist sites. There is a refusal to see things from another’s point of view. This refusal is not usually one of calm but one of animosity. Anyone who has read N. Branden (or any psychology of counselling for that matter) knows that anger is the emotion most often triggered to mask psychological responses one does not want to acknowledge. It is no surprise that someone who has disowned his/her empathic perspective gets malicious when confronted with an alternate point of view. That alternate perspective cannot be allowed to rise to the level of conscious awareness if one’s empathic perspective is disowned. The other person is a psychological threat. Blindness must be maintained in both directions or it can be maintained in neither. To maintain blindness, anger must operate in both directions or it operates in none. (I thought Michael might appreciate that.)

What I like about this site is the value that is placed on seeing other people’s perspectives. This value can only be maintained by those who have not disowned their empathic selves. Maintaining an openness to an empathic perspective allows us access to information about reality we would not otherwise have available to us. It allows us to gain a substantial advantage over having to discover everything about the world directly for ourselves. It also allows us to help nurture the perspectives of others. Maintaining the value of the empathic perspective is the fertile ground on which the future of Objectivism will grow. This site is full of it, so Objectivism will grow from here.

Thanks,

Paul Mawdsley

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Paul,

That was a wonderful post. It's late now, but I will comment on this tomorrow. (And, yes, I did like the part about the same eyes being the ones used to see inside and out - and if they are blind to a fact in one direction, they will be blind to the same fact in the other.)

:D

Michael

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Hi, Paul. I liked your post and I so agree with it. I'm the same way, I don't have a problem listening to someone else's point of view and I invite it because it may give me a new way of "thinking" and then I can draw my own conclusions regarding it. I think my only issue and I've come across this situation a few times on here but in my personal life as well...when you're talking with someone and "sharing" ideas and "sharing values" they bash you over the head for it or they intentionally say something that they know would make you upset. Or they will in a round about way will say something that is undercutting.

For me, with these types of people, I've known too many of them in my personal life, it's just best for me to stay away from them. Why would I intentionally stay around them when all they want to do is tear me down? I know I wouldn't stay around them. For me, it doesn't benefit me in any way by sharing ideas or a different perspective of something, if they want to tear me down. Obviously they do not have my best interest in mind, nor do they respect me, nor do they want to exchange the same values. All they want to do is "hurt" me.

I also believe in sharing ideas and helping someone else who "shares" the same values to act in their own interest. Which is a reason why I've been putting up those posts to "show" examples of introspection the way it is in AR's book. My benefit and gratification is in the way of knowing I was able to "help" other O'ists that also shares my values and beliefs.

I'm hoping that any O'ist interested in it will choose whether or not they want to try it. If they don't, it's no big deal. It's their choice. But for those who do decide to try it, they might enjoy it. I started it when I was really young and it started with introspection on my part and for the most part saw the same things and it was liberating in the way of guilt, fear of what the future brings. You love your life so much. I don't know every aspect of her philosophy and I'm still learning about it myself. For me, my own conclusions and discovering and understanding the world is where it is at, using your own mind to help you understand your environment better and your actions better rather than having someone else tell you what it is and why it is.

I enjoy being presented with "new" thinking or a "new" way of looking at something, especially if it helps me understand my own values and actions better as I'm sure some on here I've talked with will know this about me, the mutual exchange of ideas and values. But everyone has their big BUTS. For me, I'll listen to someone else's perspective of it, think about it for myself, draw my own conclusion regarding it, agree with it or not, and then integrate it into my beliefs and I move on. But there still might be an error in knowledge on my part that I may not be aware of at that time. Since being unaware of the error, I don't have the opportunity to correct it. But I've noticed as time goes on and you learn more, those errors are eventually corrected. Well, just as long as you're willing to correct those errors rather than evading it. Does that make sense?

But I really liked your post. But if you respond to me, etc., and I don't get back with you for a while, please don't think anything of it. After several weeks of not browsing the site much, I'm trying to get back into it. But unfortunately time has been strained for me with work, my son, and a family tragedy. So if I don't respond for a period of time, I'm not avoiding, etc. It's just I don't have much time. My life is pretty hectic right now. I have a lot of things going on. Today is really my first day of being able to peruse the site again and post a little.

Take care,

Angie

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Angie,

I’m glad you liked my post. Your enthusiasm for ideas is palpable.

I get the sense you like to consider another’s perspective more for how it helps you to explore and develop your own viewpoint than for the challenge of philosophical/psychological duelling. I have come to find pleasure in both. Each requires a different orientation of consciousness for processing empathically generated information (ie. an internalized first-person experience of another’s perspective). The two orientations being: the “imagination focussed” orientation, requiring relative ego-safety, allows us to pursue new connections; and the “perception focussed” orientation, providing relative ego-insulation, allows us to confront adversarial perspectives. Each has its own benefits. Each can be appropriate, depending on context.

It’s true, sometimes others will attack as a means of avoiding having your perspective enter their psyche. You have a choice: if you can see their game (they can’t see yours), you can stack the deck against them and find some entertainment in the responses– this is turning social metaphysics against the Social Metaphysician (see Mike Lee’s posts on Branden’s forum for great examples); if you do not see their game, or are not in the mood to play, you ignore them. We shouldn’t assume all challenges to our position are of this type, however. Often swordplay can have a constructive purpose.

I wish you well in the continued explorations and development of your own viewpoint. Don’t rule out the possibility of rationally going toe to toe. It’s the difference between cooking and playing tennis; both have their place, their pleasure, and their rational purpose. There is nothing like an opponent to test you and raise the level of your game.

Thanks,

Paul

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Hi, Paul.

I also agree with what you said. I haven't ruled it out with different points of view. And there are a few on here that I do talk with privately that have different points of view than mine, their religious beliefs of all things, etc., and it is intellectually stimulating, their view versus my view. I'm just very picky on who I talk with regarding such issues and how it will benefit me and how it will benefit them. I know these people are not into bashing me over the head or undercutting me. So I haven't ruled it out.

It's just I've observed certain people in here that seem to want to invite such bashings and there are certain conversations I would enjoy getting involved with but since I know they "enjoy" the bashings, I would much rather not get involved with it. It's similar to my entertaining the idea of intentionally playing with someone "who enjoys watching someone suffer," and I've known many that are this way. Just that whole idea of even becoming involved with someone that enjoys watching someone suffer makes me sick to my stomach. I don't get off on human suffering at all and is disturbing to witness such people. For me, since it is so revolting to witness, I don't want any part of it.

But I agree with what you said. And I don't have a problem listening to other view points and I do follow the conversations on here as well as my own private conversations with those that don't share my same views but they don't bash me over the head and I don't bash them over the head, etc., but the ones I do have a tendency to follow more closely are the ones that help me understand my own values better and they may "show" me a thing or two.

Since I haven't browsed the entire site yet, I will check out the posts you recommended.

Take care,

Angie

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Angie,

I may have mislead you unintentionally. When I said,"Branden's forum," I meant his Yahoo site:

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/natha...haniel_branden/

I don't think Mike Lee will be your cup-a-tea. He is not for everyone. He's one of the best "head-bashers" you will find, but his bashing is done with vision, not blind maliciousness. He is great at toying with that demon Social Metaphysicist-self in each of us. I think his posts can be enlightening on a number of levels.

Paul

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The best "Head Basher" around, huh? That gives me a lot of insight. LOL My belief is that there are better ways around of having discussions regarding such issues than bashing someone's head in. I'm not sure where you live but where I live there is a head basher on the radio named Tom Likus, who is supposedly the pioneer of relationships and for men to follow his rules of how women are to be treated. He is highly offensive to me. He also talks about other issues outside of women.

This is a man that thoroughly enjoys tearing people down and bashing their heads in. He's an older guy, has been through a lot, etc., and he gives his perspective, experiences (I guess his vision) on things which can be highly offensive on how he presents it. He's very very abrasive and extremely harsh in my opinion. I can also be abrasive as most people can and as I'm sure you've seen in that one post I put up. But that abrasiveness was more along the lines of pointing out a head basher's possible motives. I should have made it clear when I posted the first one but unfortunately I didn't. But I later put up other posts saying that the post was only directed to the head bashers and was not addressed to most on this site. And that was my mistake and I should have made that more clear.

You know, I don't mind hearing other people's perspectives, experiences, their vision, etc., as long as it is done "respectfully" towards the other person. Honestly, my knowing how these types of people are and it just "might" enlighten me on a few levels, I am hesitant on viewing his statements. The words you use, "best head-bashers" and "the bashing is done with vision" that makes me recoil, big time. For me and the way I see it, the purpose of bashing, there's only one outcome and that is destruction and inflicting pain onto the other person even if it is done with vision. For me, personally I very much shy away from pain and destruction. It's not what I value at all. For me, just that whole thought of "intentionally" inflicting pain onto someone else with or without maliciousness, just doesn't sit well with me.

Obviously as you can tell, the whole head-bashing idea is not something I walk into lightly without having my defenses up and questioning their true motives. Is there anyplace else where I can "possibly" be enlightened without someone wanting to bash my head in?

Or the questions I should ask you is How does he present it? Is it done respectfully? Or is it done with blatant disrespect? When you walk away from viewing his posts, how do you feel, do you feel good about what he has said or do you feel pain and torn down? I'm just curious and wanting to know before I make a "choice" to view his thoughts.

Yes, I'm very much ruled by my mind and I do not say, oh, okay, I'll go in without questioning anything, just blindly walking into a head bashers haven. It's just the whole idea of head basher and this is far from what I value and I recoil from it, big time.

Thank you, Paul, for your thoughts and your recommendations. I am hoping you can shed a little more light on the questions above as to how he is, how most people feel when walking away from his posts, etc.

Angie

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I really enjoyed the essay, and think it really brings home the fact that benevolence, manners and civility are a sense of life issue, and an epistemological one, too. We learn a lot from other people, even from those we have our differences with, or even from strangers on the street. We act that way because we love life, and being friendly with people we don't even know is part of enjoying life.

I remember one morning when I was going out to enjoy one of my favorite outdoor activities. It looked like a perfect day for it, the right wind, comfortable temperatures, sunshine. I was feeling good, eager to get out there and have fun, when I stopped by one of those gas station/convenient stores for supplies (Snacks and softdrinks). There were two little old ladies going in at the same time, so I held the door, smiled, and said "Good morning". It seemed the natural thing to do, but they seemed so surprised that a complete stranger would be so polite. Later in the parking lot, one of them handed me some literature from her church, I think some Baptist congregation. This woman was so terribly religious, but something like common courtesy seemed to be almost unknown to her. Could it be that a religion that preaches universal love for all mankind actually fosters the opposite attitude, simply because of the altruist moral code at its base? Does the damage that faith does to a person's rational faculty have that much affect on their sense of life?

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Angie,

Mike has always shown me respect in our dealings. He has no respect for social manipulators and status traders. He likes to press their buttons. I am not a social manipulator or status trader so he deals with me straight on.

After reading his posts I feel I have seen the world from a very unique perspective, but he has no power to make me "feel pain and torn down." If he was able to make me feel such things, I would have to go back to my Branden books and work on my self-esteem. If you want to know more, I suggest you read for yourself. However, I suspect you will not have the same take that I do. I don't think you will like Mike Lee very much. And that's OK.

---------------------------

Saul,

Thanks for your response. I don't really consider it an essay. It's more a casual expression of my thoughts as they flowed in response to a particular experience. While these thoughts sometimes take a lot of space (my appologies), I have not yet written anything I would consider an essay here.

Regarding manners:

I think good manners can be pretty rare these days. I get the impression it is a little more common here in Canada but that might be just a matter of habit. I don't think manners are, for most people, an expression of rational values. The habit either exists or it has been eroded.

Perhaps the women you mentioned are simply unaccustomed to seeing good manners today. In their generation it was a required habit for social acceptance. Their shock may be less a result of their rational processing than a process of their experience and conditioning in today's society. I've known some people with faith who have impressed me with their rational faculty. Understanding how this can be so is important.

Thanks,

Paul Mawdsley

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Hi, Paul

So he is respectful. I have no problems reading his posts as long as they are respectful. When I say pain and torn down, I'm saying that in terms of what his true motives are. For me, it is very difficult to tear me down and effect my self-esteem. I'm sure what he dishes out is a lot less severe than some of the stuff I've been through, have seen, etc. So that is not a problem for me.

The problem I do have is if the head basher is only interested in inflicting pain on to people and is disrespectful. Now if his perspective and comments are made in a tactful way, I won't have a problem with him. It's just I've known many head bashers that have the intent of destroying people. But since your telling me he is respectful, I will check out his posts and I'll let you know my take on him, which "might" go both ways. It's just I'm going into it with the idea of how most head bashers are. But I'll keep an open mind.

Angie

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First, let me say,

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAA!!!!

Ok, now that I've introduced myself and set everyone's expectations...

I'll start by disagreeing with Paul--I am frequently not "respectful." While I wouldn't put myself in the same league as Mencken, O'Rourke, Dennis Miller, Voltaire or Tom Leykis, I love what they do and I'm glad they are/were anything but respectful.

Let's leave aside the point that being disrespectful to the disrespectable can be very important political speech. Verbal roughhousing also makes public debate lively, interesting and honest. It pushes the boundaries and reminds people that free speech isn't for sissies. It puts the primly and grimly censorious on notice that if they stick their noses into the ring, they're going to get them bloodied.

Girls don't like it. I can see why. Except for Molly Ivins, who's about as much of a girl as Janet Reno, they're no good at it. 9 times out of 10 when a woman tries to best a man verbally, she'll get her clock cleaned--as long as he's got his guilt-proofed, tear-proofed tighty-whities on.

Women hate it when men bring logic, problem-solving skills, humor or rhetoric into a conversation because those are all weak points for them. They want all conversation to go the way it does when they're nagging and browbeating their mates about what they learned on Oprah today. When women of either sex demand that public debate be "nice" they're just trying to put kryptonite down our shorts.

Mike Lee

"Don't you use that tone of voice with me, young man!"

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Angie,

You can get a taste of Mike Lee's style here on OL:

Mike Lee saying what many of us think

(I had a ball with that one. You should have see the reaction on an Objectivist Bicker Forum. It was a site to behold. :D )

Edit - Dayaamm! This post crossed with Mike's. So now you can get another sample of his, er... unique style... :D

About bashers on OL, some of the more caustic remarks have happened because a good many Objectivist forums are devoted to a high level of bickering and just plain bad vibes - lots of arrogance, too. I admit that I discourage this here. I encourage intelligent discussion on OL, and I hold high value for when this happens with people (1) who are smarter than me and (2) who disagree with me. Since I'm a pretty smart cookie myself, this can only be a win-win situation for all when it is civil. We all go away either learning something or reinforcing nuances of our convictions.

No human being is immune to feeling resentment when he is called horrible names because of his honest best thinking and he is loudly held up as the epitome of evil in the world for holding those thoughts. That bothers everybody at some level - no exceptions.

OL is young and several of the really smart people around here have been cussed out like the dickens elsewhere. But they have so much integrity that they did not change their minds because of peer pressure. And I have seen them all change their thinking at one time or another because of good ideas. So they are loyal to their minds, not to the crowd. These are people I want to be with - and before long, I usually find myself calling them "friend."

Still, when a disagreement here on OL starts to take a form that was highly acrimonious elsewhere in the past, their resentments flare. Several times, one person or other has refer to "Randroids" on one side or some choice terms for the people critical of Rand's ideas on the other, and they are not even aware that the person in front of them takes offense to that. They are responding to another set of people in their minds.

These things are gradually going away, though, as people are getting used to a different kind of environment. From what I have seen, all of the posters here are highly intelligent people of goodwill. Those with ill will don't get their audience - their attention fix for being nasty - so they leave.

Saul,

I don't think altruism particularly instills bad manners and neither do church teachings. Most of the church-going people I have met could be lessons in good manners for some of the Objectivists I have run across. The evil that altruism as a philosophical principle has caused in mankind's history is of another nature. (Why do I think of biddy-bodies with your little old ladies, though? :D )

Michael

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Paul's essay approached manners from the internal, psychological perspective. I'd like to touch on the functional perspective: What functions do manners actually serve?

One of the most important functions of good manners is communicating predictability and respect for mutually agreed on rules. Your manners signal a shared context and interactional framework. If this is so, it's more important that your manners *match* those of people you encounter than that they be Poupon passing perfect.

When I was a teenager, the thugs in my neighborhood always started out when mugging someone with an ostentatious, sinister display of inappropriate good manners. This would confuse the victim until it was too late. "Hey, how you doing? You having a good time today?" said heartily and inappropriately to you by a stranger on the street is a signal to anyone who's at all streetwise to respond with anything but politeness. Politeness is introducing yourself as their next victim.

Notice also that in movies when the writer wants to portray the villain as particularly scary and unpredictable, it's easily done by having the villain display good manners just before or during an act of pure evil. I don't think most people are more than amorphously aware of the mechanism whereby this gimmick creeps them out so much.

Mike Lee

Yes, ma'am, I was an only child...eventually.

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Hi, Mike Lee.

I knew you were going to come over here. You know, after coming from that site, I feel as if I just came from a biker bar, nothing bad to say in that regard. Compared to my expierences on this site so far, you guys are rough and tumble, very much to the point, in your face over there. You tell it like it is rather than smoothing things over, just very blunt. Honestly, I view that as a good trait because I also can be very blunt and straightfoward. But I'm not into fighting and never have been.

Honestly, your posts are not offensive at all. I went in with my gaurd up but that gaurd has been lowered. I haven't read all of them but you truly do have an interesting perspective on things and it's quite interesting to read. Since you do listen to Tom Lykus, I hope your view of women is not the same as his, you know, that women like to be treated like dirt, etc., considering he's been married, what, 3 times so far. To me, that gives me some insight into his marriages and he's not approaching it correctly. But if you do, that's your perogative and that's your belief and I don't have a problem with that.

But what I've read over there, you are very straightfoward, to the point, and so far, I haven't found you to be offensive at all. Your perspective is very interesting to read.

Angie

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Hi, Mike.

While Mike was over here running amuck, I was over at the site for the last 2 hours or so where he frequents most often. Quite honestly, so far I do not find him to be offensive and I say that very honestly. I did have my gaurd up because I've come across many "head bashers" and their only intent is to inflict pain and destruction. Even though Mike Lee is very blunt, he is also very honest, at least what I can see so far and his perspective is very interesting to read. But one thing I have noticed is his view on women may be a little bit more abrasive than my taste. But that is his view.

I will admit, he is HIGHLY intelligent and with his type of personality, you don't run across that often.

Angie

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Mike Lee,

Welcome. I know it's not your first time, but it is your second and third.

Now I'll respond by disagreeing with you. I didn't say you were always respectful. I said:

Mike has always shown me respect in our dealings. He has no respect for social manipulators and status traders. He likes to press their buttons.

Regarding manners:

I would say that manners have a different function depending on one's code of ethics. My description is of the function of manners from an ethic that considers individuals as ends in themselves. Your description of a thug's use of is of manners is from an ethic that considers individuals as a means to an end.

Also, manners can be a matter of blind conditioning or a matter of expressing rational values. When manners are the result of only blind conditioning, the absence of manners from the shared interactional framework provokes anxiety and indignation at the breakdown of society's structures. Understanding manners to be a matter of expressing rational values, a person witnessing bad manners simply assesses the individual with bad manners and might express the results of his judgement to that individual.

Bad manners does not mean the sky is falling. It means the guy/gal is an ass. I almost ended up in a fight in a coffee line-up at Tim Horton's not too long ago because there was no stop sign on my mouth. Mike, would you speak your mind in this situation if someone was blatantly disrespectful and discourteous to those around him? I'm sure you would. That is more than just "communicating predictability and respect for mutually agreed on rules." It's acting on rational values to put a person in his place when he has bad manners (as long as he isn't too much bigger than you).

Paul

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Paul,

I've looked more at his posts on the other site and so far what I've read, he hasn't offended me and he does have an interesting perspective. I'm sure he will offend me in some way at some point or another but I have to shove my foot into my mouth and I figure you would thoroughly enjoy that. :D

He's not the typical head bashers that I've known. And you are correct, he has a very unique perspective of life. And what I've read so far, he makes a lot of sense. It may not coincide with my personal beliefs but I will definitely follow his posts when he comes to this site because it is different.

Angie

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Call me jaded but I'm down to just shrugging whenever I see someone like Mike Lee attract those mildly outraged PC type posts that always appear whenever anyone who has some real stones writes something.

But there's always a Mrs. Grundy in the neighborhood, somewhere. I count on it. For one thing, if I really run out of things to do there's always that to work with- you can go into perpetual motion with them.

I just read one of those about Mike elsewhere and I noticed that I felt de-energized and flat afterwards. Why do I want to go through all the trouble to screw off at work just to get that?

rde

For me, entertainment values can outstrip family values on occasion.

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Hi, Rich.

I haven't read much of his posts but out of what I've read, they are different. And I have to admit he is unique and smart and they are interesting to read.

I don't know about all of his beliefs so I can't say if they coincide with mine or not. I haven't read enough to make that judgment. But for me personally, I will say I don't agree with the head bashing. It's his choice. It doesn't float my boat but for him it does. But when I have read his posts, I'm overlooking that aspect of it (head bashing) and just reading for content and his view of life. So I'm disconnecting that aspect of it, to not let it phase me on how abrasive I've read some of them to be and maybe that is why I haven't been offended yet, plus I don't offend easily. I'm just looking to read about his perspective of life and it is a little out there and different.

So don't think I'm following him around, etc. I'm just slowly browsing over there to read about his perspective. I've read a little bit more of it and some I agree with and others I don't agree with. Some makes sense and others are just out there. So please don't think I'm a supporter. I'm just reading, that's all.

Mike, I wanted to write a post today but haven't had the time re: what you said about O'ists changing their mind and being loyal to their mind, etc., and I do agree, just as long as they aren't falling into thinking for the group because somebody said it was true. I enjoy watching people using their own minds to draw their own conclusions rather than relying on the group. But as AR would say, you swing to both sides of the pendulum never knowing exactly what is true or not so it can become confusing not knowing what it is the truth. But more later on my thoughts. I agree with what you said though. More later

Angie

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Angie wrote:

Since you do listen to Tom Lykus, I hope your view of women is not the same as his, you know, that women like to be treated like dirt, etc., considering he's been married, what, 3 times so far. To me, that gives me some insight into his marriages and he's not approaching it correctly.

I know any number of Objectivists and related folk who have been married three times -- some even headed into their fourth marriage. I wouldn't say that their earlier marriages failed because they thought that "women like to be treated like dirt." There are various reasons why marriages fail, sometimes because the women treat the men like dirt. (Been there, been done to by that.)

As for Lykus, I used to listen to him, when I could stand the tension he generated. (I generally prefer to de-stress on my drive home from work.) My impression is that he arrived at his cynical view of women based on being rejected by too many women because he was too accepting of how they treated him. Those women that he was so attracted to just didn't want a nice guy like him; they wanted a biker type, a "Dangerous Dan" guy who would be actively dominant and expect them to be submissive, or at least to know that they had a "real man" in charge of the relationship. A passive, nice guy type just isn't satisfying in the long run for some women -- unless they get sufficiently burned by one of the "dangerous" guys. (Reflect on the Frank-Ayn-Nathaniel triangle and its ultimate resolution.)

I certainly could have over-generalized and come to the same conclusion as Lykus based on my second marriage, but I didn't. After a certain point, there was enough blame to go around that Humpty Dumpty (the marriage) couldn't be put back together again, especially since only one of the partners was willing to try. And I don't know if Lykus is going to evolve a more balanced view and have a chance at a successful marriage. I only that I did, as the result of Al-Anon (prompted by my second wife's drug problems), and I am later this month going to celebrate 16 years of happy marriage! (We're actually celebrating early by going this Friday to hear Copland and Dvorak at a Pacific Symphony Orchestra concert.)

REB

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Hi, Roger

Thank you for clarifying Tom Lykus for me. I've listened to him in the past as well and I just couldn't get past his attitude towards women, at times my chin would drop at some of the things he would say about us. I sympathize with you due to my own failing marriage so I know what I said is not the case for all. John unfortunately is controlling, possessive, and looking for the typical high maintenance girl that will serve his needs only and to never serve her own. But that is him and I can't change him. He's very much into the traditional marriage whereas I am far from typical.

It's just what I know of Tom after listening to him on the radio for quite some time, it just wasn't a fluke once or twice thing. The more I listened to him, it's like, wow, with that attitude, no wonder why. But I was not aware of his more personal side. Out of the times I've listened to him a long time ago, he never went into detail regarding what had happened and why. I'm not down on people being married numerous times. It's just finding the "right" one which you have found in your current wife !! It was just his attitude towards women that threw me for a loop. But thank you for clarifying Tom, very much appreciated.

Also, CONGRATULATIONS on your 16th wedding anniversary !! I hope you have a wonderful time !! It sounds so exciting......Woohoo !! //;-))

Big Smiles,

Angie

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I agree, Tibor -- even if that nutty idea is the belief that it is OK to stand by and allow a non-related child to starve to death. (As we are currently discussing on another thread.)

Roger

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Paul: "We can think of this motivation in terms of the self image it enables us to create but, while a value, our future self-image is not generally what motivates helping behaviour in the moment."

I agree with you that empathy is a prime source of our desire to help others, but I believe self-image also is involved -- not future, but present self-image. For example, if I see a person, say, struggling with something that I can help with, I would have a very unpleasant feeling about myself if I failed to help. It isn't that helping makes me think better of myself, but that not helping would detract from my self-image. I have the concept of myself as decent and honorable, as someone who cares about others unless I have a strong reason not to do so; if I fail to act on that self-concept I am lessening it in my own eyes.

Barbara

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Barbara,

It is good to meet you. I would like to thank you for your book, The Passion of Ayn Rand. I read it at a time when I was still trying to process the meaning of Rand and her work in my life. It helped the process.

I must admit, unlike others here, I am not familiar with your other work. I have not paid any attention to the Objectivist movement and any work associated with it in the past because I didn’t consider myself an Objectivist. I considered myself a philosophical loner and pursued my interests elsewhere. Never a person to join clubs, I am nevertheless quite enjoying being a member of this forum. Quietly reading posts such as yours, and learning about some of Objectivism’s history from a perspective I am coming to respect, is part of the enjoyment.

In your post you say:

I agree with you that empathy is a prime source of our desire to help others, but I believe self-image also is involved -- not future, but present self-image.

I agree with almost your entire statement. I disagree with the word “but.” I was trying to focus on a particular aspect of the motivation of helping behaviour: the role of empathically experiencing another’s perspective. Of course, self-image does play a role in the dynamic. When we experience another’s perspective empathically, our self-image is part of the internal dynamic that determines behaviour. Maintaining the standard of the person I know myself to be influences how I react to my internal experience of another person’s point of view. This is one reason why healthy self-esteem is such an important factor in social dynamics. Since healthy self-esteem people are acting to maintain a different standard, a different self-image, from low self-esteem people, their reactions to helping situation are different.

The point I was making though, is that the motivation of one’s actions, in the moment, is not generally determined by rational considerations of shaping one’s future self-image. Although, it can be a factor to someone who understands the relationship between current actions and future self-image, it is not normally the prime motivating factor. In the moment reactions do have rational factors involved in processing information, but it is the personal meaning, the emotional response to the immediate images in the context understanding, that motivates action. The empathic perspective supplies important information to be processed in the context of our understanding and responded to. I am saying Objectivism hasn’t considered the importance of this information in its world view. In fact, I would say Objectivism tends to hold the disowning of the empathic perspective as a virtue. That’s a problem!

Paul

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