Jerry Biggers

BASIC PRINCIPLES BOOK ANNOUNCED

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New format is too wide for the screen on my computer -- no one wants to scroll left to right all the time. The old format worked after a learning curve.

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> New format is too wide for the screen on my computer -- no one wants to scroll left to right all the time. The old format worked after a learning curve. [Phil]

Yeah, as long as you didn't try to learn how to use the quote function.

JR

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It is, of course, somewhat depressing to have to explain what I think was already clear to everyone else, but the entire post was an effort at humor.

Perhaps I should take lessons on humor from "Selene."

Or you could try to get better at it.

May I make a suggestion to you gentlemen for your personal improvement in this area?

You could study Cocky Comedy by David Deangelo (the subtitle on the linked site says "How to Use Humor to Meet Women!").

Here's the YouTube video embedded on the linked site (btw - not an affiliate link), but, if you are in doubt about taking such an important and productive step for the betterment of your lives and culture, you can find other videos easily by Googling the title and author.

<iframe width="420" height="345" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/mhDa2NBchuw?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Now I know you're going to say, "What does this have to do with Objectivism?" Well, I'll have you know that David Deangelo's real name is Eben Pagan--the very same person who promoted a huge self esteem package for Nathaniel Branden with other big-dog self-help gurus (Mastering Self Esteem--also not an affiliate link).

So not only will you learn how to do comedy correctly from someone connected to our subcommunity (albeit indirectly), you can also learn how to get dates with women!

It just doesn't get any better than that, folks.

(I noticed in the video DeAngelo/Pagan didn't tell a single joke... hmmmm... sort of how I see an Objectivist teaching comedy... :smile: )

Michael

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Good message. Not sure when a reply on memes becomes a lecture on memes, but it's such a faddish word these days that it's bound to sound dated in another five years. Remember "bottom line" from the 1980s? "Myth", "cliché" and "misrepresentation" come to mind, and you won't surprise anyone if you think of better expressions than these.

You make a good point. After rereading the passage a few minutes ago, it does strike me as self-consciously trendy, as I thought it might. I am going to kill off the memes and rewrite the passage. Thanks.

I used to lecture at IHS summer conferences with law professor Randy Barnett and historian Ralph Raico. At the final session, the speakers would give words of advice to the students. Randy Barnett would offer advice about how to survive in academia without compromising your principles, I would give my little lecture about how to use books, and Ralph Ralph would offer tips about writing.

Two of Ralph's tips always stood out for me:

First, if you write something and then ask a friend you respect to review it so he can tell you what he thinks before you write the final draft; and if, after reading your piece, he says that he doesn't understand something or that he finds something confusing, then don't argue with him. Don't get bent out of shape and insist that he didn't read with sufficient care; don't tell him to read it again; and, above all, don't tell him that he doesn't know enough to appreciate your fine efforts. If your friend doesn't understand something, the fault is almost certainly yours, not his. So thank your friend and then rewrite the damn thing.

Second -- and I love this one: After you have finished the first draft of your masterpiece and are admiring it and yourself, if you run across a passage that astonishes even you with its brilliance, then take your pen and strike it out. Your final draft will be better as a result.Ghs

I agree with and especially like the first tip of Ralph Ralph aka Ralph Raico. My wife is the best canary in the coal mine a writer-husband could ever ask for. Our minds think in reverse, in some weird fashion. We eventually get to a mutual understanding, if one is possible, but sometimes only after a tortuous process of reverse-engineering, premise-checking, or whatever. So, if she doesn't get something I'm saying, or that I've written, I know that many of my readers (do I ~have~ many readers?) are going to glitch on it, and that I need to drastically reconsider what I've written, whether the content or the ordering of it or whatever.

Just this morning, we went through a similar trauma in discussing a mysterious problem with our family budget. I tried my damnedest to explain to her why we were having cash-flow problems. (I didn't reveal the hidden expenses for the dancing girls.) She kept shaking her head, saying it didn't explain the problem, and argued that we needed to reconcile our monthly income-outgo with our assets and liabilities. But should we focus on last month, any month we liked, or the month we set up the system? Finally, it sank in that we were ~both~ overlooking a bunch of "payables" that had not been accounted for on "day 1" of our accounting system, making it look like we had "more" money than we really did. (Maybe we're just getting old and fuzzy-headed. Between us, we perhaps make one barely adequate accountant?)

However, George, I cannot agree with Ralph's second tip. While I often strike out passages I really am enamored of, I sometimes ~do~ come up with gems that simply ~have~ to stay, not because they are "brilliant" but because they are ~inspired~ and strengthen the unity and clarity of the essay. Here, my wife is again a great helpmate. I recently finished a manuscript after scratching my head for months over how to improve its really lame, flat ending. The "fix" involved a play on words on the term "alternative," and rhetorically what I came up with, inadvertently, was pitch-perfect.

So, I think that Ralph's second tip is a bit of an over-generalization. I would say: keep your red pencil handy, so to speak, and don't be afraid to use it ruthlessly, in the service of effectively communicating your essential point. But don't throw out the inspired, integrative babies with the pompous, bloviating bathwater. (My wife did not approve the previous sentence.)

REB

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> New format is too wide for the screen on my computer -- no one wants to scroll left to right all the time. The old format worked after a learning curve. [Me]

Two things I like, though:

(1) The "reply" box allows you to stay on the same page. That way you can scroll up and see what you're replying to as you type.

(2) The ability to click on which posts you want to see (unread, last 24 hours....) and see them updated instantly.

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Good message. Not sure when a reply on memes becomes a lecture on memes, but it's such a faddish word these days that it's bound to sound dated in another five years. Remember "bottom line" from the 1980s? "Myth", "cliché" and "misrepresentation" come to mind, and you won't surprise anyone if you think of better expressions than these.

You make a good point. After rereading the passage a few minutes ago, it does strike me as self-consciously trendy, as I thought it might. I am going to kill off the memes and rewrite the passage. Thanks.

I used to lecture at IHS summer conferences with law professor Randy Barnett and historian Ralph Raico. At the final session, the speakers would give words of advice to the students. Randy Barnett would offer advice about how to survive in academia without compromising your principles, I would give my little lecture about how to use books, and Ralph Ralph would offer tips about writing.

Two of Ralph's tips always stood out for me:

First, if you write something and then ask a friend you respect to review it so he can tell you what he thinks before you write the final draft; and if, after reading your piece, he says that he doesn't understand something or that he finds something confusing, then don't argue with him. Don't get bent out of shape and insist that he didn't read with sufficient care; don't tell him to read it again; and, above all, don't tell him that he doesn't know enough to appreciate your fine efforts. If your friend doesn't understand something, the fault is almost certainly yours, not his. So thank your friend and then rewrite the damn thing.

Second -- and I love this one: After you have finished the first draft of your masterpiece and are admiring it and yourself, if you run across a passage that astonishes even you with its brilliance, then take your pen and strike it out. Your final draft will be better as a result.Ghs

I agree with and especially like the first tip of Ralph Ralph aka Ralph Raico. My wife is the best canary in the coal mine a writer-husband could ever ask for. Our minds think in reverse, in some weird fashion. We eventually get to a mutual understanding, if one is possible, but sometimes only after a tortuous process of reverse-engineering, premise-checking, or whatever. So, if she doesn't get something I'm saying, or that I've written, I know that many of my readers (do I ~have~ many readers?) are going to glitch on it, and that I need to drastically reconsider what I've written, whether the content or the ordering of it or whatever.

Just this morning, we went through a similar trauma in discussing a mysterious problem with our family budget. I tried my damnedest to explain to her why we were having cash-flow problems. (I didn't reveal the hidden expenses for the dancing girls.) She kept shaking her head, saying it didn't explain the problem, and argued that we needed to reconcile our monthly income-outgo with our assets and liabilities. But should we focus on last month, any month we liked, or the month we set up the system? Finally, it sank in that we were ~both~ overlooking a bunch of "payables" that had not been accounted for on "day 1" of our accounting system, making it look like we had "more" money than we really did. (Maybe we're just getting old and fuzzy-headed. Between us, we perhaps make one barely adequate accountant?)

However, George, I cannot agree with Ralph's second tip. While I often strike out passages I really am enamored of, I sometimes ~do~ come up with gems that simply ~have~ to stay, not because they are "brilliant" but because they are ~inspired~ and strengthen the unity and clarity of the essay. Here, my wife is again a great helpmate. I recently finished a manuscript after scratching my head for months over how to improve its really lame, flat ending. The "fix" involved a play on words on the term "alternative," and rhetorically what I came up with, inadvertently, was pitch-perfect.

So, I think that Ralph's second tip is a bit of an over-generalization. I would say: keep your red pencil handy, so to speak, and don't be afraid to use it ruthlessly, in the service of effectively communicating your essential point. But don't throw out the inspired, integrative babies with the pompous, bloviating bathwater. (My wife did not approve the previous sentence.)

REB

I didn't set the context needed to appreciate Ralph's comment. It was like a standup comedy routine that he had perfected over the years. He would perform the role of the vain student admiring his own sentence, and with the dramatic hand gestures of a true Sicilian (he used to tell students that his teaching was just a cover for his olive oil business), he would rave: Oh, this is perfect?. I suspected I was a genus, but now I know for sure. This belongs in a museum. My life is complete. If died now I would still be remembered as a great writer" etc..

Yes, it was a parody, not literal advice, but it does have reasonable applications.

I should have mentioned another thing. namely, that our seminars were attended by the cream of crop: top students from Yale, , Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, and on and on. Some of these people were insufferably arrogant, especially the men. Here is an absolutely true story.

Three insufferable pricks show up one year. All three are in their last year of Harvad Law School and all are near the top of their class. I knew immediately that I would be their target, because I had no degrees.They would attempt to shoot me down at every opportunity not only for sport but also because they wanted to be first in line for the available women.

The Triad had a leader who was especially obnoxious and who reallly wanted my scalp after I had corrected him on some issues on the first day. He thought I would be easy prey, but I had had so much practice with his type -- who always know a lot less than they think they do -- and was so skilled in slicing and dicing them -- that he didn't stand a chance.

On that same day, after the offical functions were over and students were engaged in late night conversations, I walked into the commons area where he was sitting with his pals and around ten other students, one of whom was an exceptionally beautiful woman -==a 24 year old grad student from Stanford who had nearly completed her PhD in philosophy.

They had gotten into an argument about Thomas Hobbes. Earlier, in the discussion group I had led, the Harvard asshole corrected a statement that I had made in an earlier lecture, one having to do with common myth that Hobbes was a founding father of classical liberalism.I dismissed his comments in a calilier manner and told him that he should actually read Hobbes rather than believe what others say about him.

Well, later on but before I showed up in the commons, he had gotten into an argument with the beauty. She had claimed that I was absolutely right, and that the passage I referred to was actually in Leviathan. He was saying stuff like, "Yeah, like Smith would know. I majored in philosophy, and I studied under one the world's leading authorities on Hobbes at Oxford, etc."

The A hole was obviously trying to impress the beauty so he could grab the brass ring.

Well what this guy didn't know was that just a couple days before the conference, I had finished up in Nashville with two long and involved scripts that I had written about Leviathan. That project took me aruond 4 months full time, during which I had absorbed many of the passages in Leviathan into my pores. I read it cover to cover at least three times, and then reread key passages suitable for quoting dozens of times.. Then I typed in those passages while writing the scripts, and read my scripts aloud around ten times in an effort to catch errors and determine if the writing worked for the ears.

Then off to Nashville and 12 to 14 hours a day for over week in the studio listening to the lead actor read the key passages but without understanding them. This caused me to sit down with him, insert "beats" in passages to indicate pauses; underline words to be emphasized, and read some difficult passages aloud as a guide for him. (Hobbes's sentences are extraordinally long and complex.)

In short, by the time I hit Notre Dame College in Belmont, I had recently read the passages in question at least 200 times, and heard them read aloud at least 100. The two passages being contested in the Commons were not especially long or difficult. I could recite them perfectly, even incorporating the beats and pauses that I had worked on in Nashville.

Could anything have been more perfect. I said nothing about the KP scripts. Instead, I told the beauty, who had a copy of the standard edition, that she was looking in the wrong place. I didn't know the exact page numbers, I said, but they were in the first few pages of chapter such and such. And then, as she was turning the pages, I added, "Look for the paragraph that begins....as I recited the first sentence from memory. She quickly found the place and said, "Yeah, here it is," so I kept quoting, pausing once to say "Oh, I really this next line." Then after I finished quoting that paragraph without a slip, I said, "There's another important passage that you need to read. I think it's three or fourth paragraphs down. Then I continued my recitation as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

Shortly after I finished my Shakespearan quality peformance, the A hole leaned back on a couch and muttered in a deep grumble to one of his pals, "Fuuuuuck."

I then said, "Well, guys, I have a 9 am lecture, so I need to go through my notes. If you have any other questions, I'll answer them tomorrow evening.

Then I casually strolled out as if I did this sort of thing every day.

That guy never bothered me again.

And guess who grabbed the brass ring that week -- again and again and again :cool:

Ghs

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Per usual with the defenders of government torture they make up tautological stories to justify it.

Abhorrent doesn’t begin to describe the corruption of Dennis’s trying to justify what the U.S. government has done. Vileness doesn’t begin to describe his trying to fob this sophistry off on Ayn Rand’s ethics.

For a bit of the real world Dennis can’t trouble himself to look at, see the articles collected at Torture USA.

I’m much worse than that, by your standards. I have never defended everything the US government has done. On the contrary, I strongly believe that the US government has engaged in numerous egregious acts where innocent people are killed, and that the government officials responsible for it should be prosecuted. Specifically, I vehemently condemn the US government’s immoral policy of conducting war under vicious “rules of engagement” that protect foreign citizens while unnecessarily putting the lives of our innocent troops at risk. (The most obvious example is the prohibition against soldiers using deadly force without advance bureaucratic permission.) In addition, I strongly favor the use of technology (i.e., aggressive bombing campaigns) as opposed to troops on the ground in many situations where our “noble” purpose is to minimize civilian casualties and the result is our soldiers coming home in body bags.

I presented a moral argument for defensive war and torture in my prior post. Here is the key moral position (as stated by Nathaniel Branden many years ago) which you cleverly labeled “sophistry” in order to avoid answering it.

. . .[suppose] a situation arises such as a war declared by a foreign dictatorship, in which your country is being threatened, is being attacked, being bombed or whatever, where your life, your security are now on the line. Then I would say you have a moral right to take the necessary actions against that country to protect yourself, without necessarily claiming that all the individual citizens of that country who may be hurt or killed are in any way blameworthy because the chances are they are not. I would say that a violation of the rights of those citizens has taken place, but that the moral agent responsible is their own government.

Putting it differently: suppose the world were so constituted that there was only a very limited amount of food--no more food could be grown or produced--and there was less food then there were people who needed to eat. Under such a situation, nobody could morally condemn a person who did whatever necessary to get that food for himself or his family and he would have the right to do so because the first right of a living organism is to remain alive.

In a situation such as a war, then I would say that if another country threatens you, if your own survival depends on taking aggressive action such as bombing against that country, your defense of your own life and your own nation gives you the right to do it. That is not saying that the violation of the people's rights of the other nation is not involved, but that morally the violator is the government that started the war…

Nathaniel Branden

Citing a long litany of questionable claims is not a moral argument. You seem to accept the leftist perspective that since the US government is inherently evil, we can assume that it is guilty of every atrocity we dig up. Either defensive war is justified, or it isn’t. Either torture to save innocent lives is justified, or it isn’t. No doubt the U.S. government has done many things (e.g., Abu Ghraib, the My Lai massacre) that are criminal and immoral. Those specific acts should be condemned, but they are irrelevant to the validity of the basic moral position of rational self-interest.

[Note: The quotation of Nathaniel Branden should not be construed to imply that he endorses the specific applications of these principles that I have outlined in this post.]

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George,

Thank you. Coming from you, especially, this means more to me than I can possibly tell you.

Dennis

Dennis: not that it matters much at all in comparison to Ghs's assessment, but I agree wholeheartedly with his views of your posts here on OL, with the possible exception of your curious infatuation with the Constantly Under-performing Colts.

Talk about strutting--maybe you learned that from Manning?

David,

Thank you very much! Your words of support mean a great deal to me.

As for the Colts, they certainly are under-performing without number 18 in the line-up.

I've been "strutting" ever since I can remember, but Manning's grid-iron heroics are definitely an inspiration to me. It’s going to be a long season for the Colts without him.

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> It’s a shame, too. I never got to hear (or read) Peikoff’s in depth analysis of Immanuel Cunt.

Dennis, shame on you: You are not allowed to use that word on this board.

You can, however, call anyone any other name or engage in any other character assassination or name-calling you wish.

Phil,

Please note that my use of that word was purely for phonetic purposes.

Personally, I have always despised that word, but sometimes one has to do certain things for the sake of a greater cause, such as academic integrity.

And thanks for giving me the opportunity to clarify. I wouldn't want to leave the impression that I'm immoral or anything like that. :rolleyes:

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> Personally, I have always despised that word

Dennis, my point is calling someone a c*nt is no worse than calling them a s***head, an ass****', or telling them to go f*** themselves.

Or any other of the other personal epithets and insults that many people use against each other on this board without a word of criticism.

Edited by Philip Coates

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> Personally, I have always despised that word

Dennis, my point is calling someone a c*nt is no worse than calling them a s***head, an ass****', or telling them to go f*** themselves.

Or any other of the other personal epithets and insults that many people use against each other on this board without a word of criticism.

The difference, Phil, is that you are a model of civility that the rest of us trash-talkers are supposed to emulate. If you cannot abstain from using vile language with no provocation, then what hope is there for the future of western civilization? Would Jesus have used the C-word?

Ghs

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> Personally, I have always despised that word

Dennis, my point is calling someone a c*nt is no worse than calling them a s***head, an ass****', or telling them to go f*** themselves.

Or any other of the other personal epithets and insults that many people use against each other on this board without a word of criticism.

The difference, Phil, is that you are a model of civility that the rest of us trash-talkers are supposed to emulate. If you cannot abstain from using vile language with no provocation, then what hope is there for the future of western civilization? Would Jesus have used the C-word?

Ghs

What, you mean "Christian"? Nooooo, I don't think so. Like Rand, Jesus was too modest to want a belief-system named after him.

Which reminds me of what Joseph said to the feeble-minded rabbi at the Temple in Jerusalem when, for the 12th time in 12 years, he forgetfully asked the young lad's name: "Jesus Christ, how many times do I have to tell you!!"

REB

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> Personally, I have always despised that word Dennis, my point is calling someone a c*nt is no worse than calling them a s***head, an ass****', or telling them to go f*** themselves. Or any other of the other personal epithets and insults that many people use against each other on this board without a word of criticism.
The difference, Phil, is that you are a model of civility that the rest of us trash-talkers are supposed to emulate. If you cannot abstain from using vile language with no provocation, then what hope is there for the future of western civilization? Would Jesus have used the C-word? Ghs
What, you mean "Christian"? Nooooo, I don't think so. Like Rand, Jesus was too modest to want a belief-system named after him. Which reminds me of what Joseph said to the feeble-minded rabbi at the Temple in Jerusalem when, for the 12th time in 12 years, he forgetfully asked the young lad's name: "Jesus Christ, how many times do I have to tell you!!" REB

Only from Roger could we hope to find such a smooth transition from a discussion of the C-word to a Jesus joke. Here is my contribution:

Q: What's the difference between Jesus and a picture of Jesus?

A: You only need one nail to hang up a picture of Jesus.

Ghs

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> Personally, I have always despised that word

Dennis, my point is calling someone a c*nt is no worse than calling them a s***head, an ass****', or telling them to go f*** themselves.

Or any other of the other personal epithets and insults that many people use against each other on this board without a word of criticism.

So far, oddly, there has been no chorus of OL females voicing their agreement with Phil's distinction on the proper use and usages of the C word. Phil may wish to consider why this may be so.

I normally don't give a crap about interpersonal strife along these lines, but the C word should be out of bounds, for the same reason the N should be out of bounds. The men on this board who happen to be married to women, or who have daughters, likely need no explanation for this.

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> If you cannot abstain from using vile language with no provocation...

Calling me a hypocrite, implying a deliberate intent to deceive and calling me names in more than one post is no provocation? How would you react to being called a hypocrite? You wouldn't ever use vile language, George?

> the C word should be out of bounds, for the same reason the N should be out of bounds.

But calling someone the S word, the A word, the F word are not out of bounds?

Edited by Philip Coates

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Q: What's the difference between Jesus and a picture of Jesus?

A: You only need one nail to hang up a picture of Jesus.

Ghs

I think you could probably hang Jesus with only one nail too, if you put it in the right spot.

J

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The thread on reading ITOE over in the Epistemology section raises another question that I don't think has come up in the current thread. The NBI taped course had an entire lecture on the stolen concept. Is this another that has been superseded in the book version?

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Q: What's the difference between Jesus and a picture of Jesus?

A: You only need one nail to hang up a picture of Jesus.

Ghs

I think you could probably hang Jesus with only one nail too, if you put it in the right spot.

J

Mmmmm, I think the single nail would have to be a bit larger than the size required for multiple nails. (I just know I'm going to be crucified on this one.)

REB

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The thread on reading ITOE over in the Epistemology section raises another question that I don't think has come up in the current thread. The NBI taped course had an entire lecture on the stolen concept. Is this another that has been superseded in the book version?

Hey there, Peter -- I don't recall the original Basic Principles of Objectivism lectures having an entire lecture on the Stolen Concept fallacy. There was significant discussion of the fallacy very early on in the series, viz., in lectures 2 (What is Reason?) and 3 (Logic and Mysticism).

Barbara's Principles of Efficient Thinking ~does~ have an entire guest lecture by NB on the Stolen Concept fallacy. Is it possible you were thinking of that lecture series?

REB

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> If you cannot abstain from using vile language with no provocation...

Calling me a hypocrite, implying a deliberate intent to deceive and calling me names in more than one post is no provocation? How would you react to being called a hypocrite? You wouldn't ever use vile language, George?

> the C word should be out of bounds, for the same reason the N should be out of bounds.

But calling someone the S word, the A word, the F word are not out of bounds?

You're really being a prick about this, Phil. Just drop it. (Nothing personal.)

REB

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Yes - it would have been the Efficient Thinking course. Apparently almost nothing is currently available in the public media on the topic.

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Q: What's the difference between Jesus and a picture of Jesus?

A: You only need one nail to hang up a picture of Jesus.

Ghs

I think you could probably hang Jesus with only one nail too, if you put it in the right spot.

George opted for the classical pose.

--Brant

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Dennis, make up your mind: one or the other, moral or immoral.

Please stop shape-shifting.

--Brant

Well now, I’m not totally opposed to any and all forms of “immorality.” Without the religious taboo of immorality, there would be no such thing as “dirty sex”—i.e., things couples do in the bedroom that they would never admit to doing. And the illicitness of such activities definitely seems to add to the excitement.

I believe I once heard Nathaniel Branden, in an NBI lecture on Romantic Relationships, describe this as the “one contribution of religion to human happiness.”

Ayn Rand was sitting a few rows in front of me, and she actually laughed when he said that—along with everyone else in the room.

This was many years ago, and my memory of exactly what NB said may well be totally off. If so, my humblest apologies to NB. But whatever he was referring to, Ayn sure thought it was funny.

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