My favorite Nathaniel Branden "one-liners"


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Dear Branden fans:

I'm trying something a bit different with this post. I'm going to gradually re-read and peruse my Nathaniel Branden books and select my favorite one-sentence statements by him, listing them here along with the essay or chapter of the book they appear in. (I'm calling them "one-liners," but obviously some of them are more Kantianesque than pithy. :P I will continue to edit and re-edit this post, adding more worthy statements and sources as I go.

Readers are encouraged to (1) comment on any of these statements, and (2) post their own favorite NB statements (with source, please!). I will incorporate ones I like into later editions of this post. (And I will tend to shy away from ones that require editing, deleting words, bracketed clarifications, etc.)

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My #1 pick: "Rational awareness is not the 'cold hand' that kills; it is the power that liberates." (Read chapter 5, "Emotions," in The Psychology of Self-Esteem.)

"There is no value-judgment more important to man -- no factor more decisive in his psychological development and motivation-- than the estimate he passes on himself." (Read chapter 7, "The Nature and Source of Self-Esteem" in The Psychology of Self-Esteem.)

"No evasion, no defense-values, no strategy of self-deception can ever provide a man with a substitute for authentic self-esteem." (Read chapter 8, "Pseudo-Self-Esteem," in The Psychology of Self-Esteem.)

From the same chapter, a very long and very eloquent sentence: "Let a man tell himself that self-esteem is to be earned, not by the fullest exercise of his intellect,but by its abandonment in submission to faith; let him hold that efficacy is attained, not by thinking, but by confirmity to the beliefs of others; let him hold that efficacy consists of gaining love; let him believe that his basic worth is to be measured by the number of women he sleeps with; or by the number of women he doesn't sleep with; or by the people he can manipulate; or by the nobility of his dreams; or by the money he gives away; or by the sacrifices he makes; let him renounce the world; let him lie on a bed of nails -- but whatever he may expect to achieve, be it a moment's self-forgetfulness or a temporary illusion of virtue or a temporary amelioration of guilt, he will not achieve self-esteem."

"A cheerful neurotic, confident of his ability to deal successfully with life, is a contradiction in terms." (Read chapter 9, "Pathological Anxiety: A Crisis of Self-Esteem," in The Psychology of Self-Esteem.)

"If and when the price of 'harmony' with his fellow men becomes the surrender of his mind, a psychologically healthy man does not pay it; nothing can be a benefit to him at that cost." (Read chapter 10, "Social Metaphysics," in The Psychology of Self-Esteem.)

My favorite in a chapter full of great statements: "The essence of the romantic love response is: 'I see you as a person, and because you are what you are, I desire you for my sexual happiness." (Read chapter 11, "Self-Esteem and Romantic Love," in The Psychology of Self-Esteem.)

Another very long and very eloquent sentence: "If a patient must be taught that the frustations, the despair, the wreckage of his life are ultimately traceable to his deficiency of self-esteem and to the policies that led to that deficiency, it is equally imperative that he be taught the solultion: that supreme expression of selfishness and self-assertiveness which consists of holding his self-esteem as his highest value and most exalted concern--and of knowing that each struggling step upward, taken in the name of that value, carries him further from the bondage to his past suffering and closer to the sunlight reality of the human potential." (Read chapter 12, "Psychotherapy," in The Psychology of Self-Esteem.)(Note: shouldn't that be "sunlit reality"?)

From the same chapter (thanks, Glenn!): "To introduce into one's consciousness a major and fundamental idea that cannot be so integrated, an idea not derived from reality, not validated by a process of reason, not subject to rational examination or judgment - and worse: an idea that clashes with the rest of one's concepts and understanding of reality - is to sabotage the integrative function of consciousness, to undercut the rest of one's convictions and kill one's capacity to be certain of anything."

In "Our Urgent Need for Self-Esteem," posted at www.nathanielbranden.com/ess/ess12.html (thanks Rich!): "To be self-responsible is to recognize that we are the author of our choices and actions; that we must be the ultimate source of our own fulfillment; that no one is coming to make our life right for us, or make us happy, or give us self-esteem."

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OK, you get the idea? Comments, suggestions, questions are all welcome!

Best 2 all,

REB

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Roger,

I like this idea. If I may, I'd like to contribute one. From The Psychology of Self-Esteem, Chapter 12, p. 240 in the paperback edition. (This was italicized in the original text.)

To introduce into one's consciousness a major and fundamental idea that cannot be so integrated, an idea not derived from reality, not validated by a process of reason, not subject to rational examination or judgment - and worse: an idea that clashes with the rest of one's concepts and understanding of reality - is to sabotage the integrative function of consciousness, to undercut the rest of one's convictions and kill one's capacity to be certain of anything.

Thanks,

Glenn

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Glenn, very nice quote, thank you. I put it into the hopper right away!

Folks, please feel free to comment on any of these quotes. You can reply to this thread or try to start up a new thread, if it seems to you to warrant a fresh topic on its own.

Having fun yet? :-)

REB

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"No one is coming."

I saw him work that like a riff when I heard him lecture at the Toronto Learning Annex. Obviously, it has to do with the basic fact that you have to take care of your own things...

He has great one-liners. I've had some emails from him that were one-worders... 8)

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Roger, this is what NB, answered to many of my questions on consciousness. NB: What is energy "constituted" of? If consciousness is a primary, then it is not constituted of something other than consciousness.

NB.

Ciro.

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Dear, Ciro, remember: you learn more listening than by talking. So don't rush to defend yourself. Just listen...and see what you can learn.

Nathaniel Branden

Roger, I made good use of this one that's for sure!

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Roger about: To be out in front means sometimes to be alone. A leader must know and accept this responsibility.

We cannot lead others where we are afraid to go ourselves.

From self-esteem at work.

CD

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The Art of Living Consciously is full of little gems like....

    "Living consciously is an act of love for one's own positive possibilities. It is an act of commitment to one's value as a person and to the importance of one's life."

    "Our inner world, too, is part of reality."

    "We must choose to think."

    "Doing more of what doesn't work, doesn't work."

    "To be is to be something."

    "Self-acceptance is the foundation of growth and change."

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The Art of Living Consciously is full of little gems like....

...

    "Our inner world, too, is part of reality."

...

    "Doing more of what doesn't work, doesn't work."

...

I especially like the two I sequestered from your quote, Kat.

The first one reminds me that there must be some mode of

awareness, that operates by some physical means, for our

internal world. The second reminds me not to slip into the

crazy patterns of the past that only brought me suffering

and misery.

I'll be posting some more to my above list soon, and I'll

include your suggestions from that book when I do, Kat.

Thanks!

Best,

REB

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Dragonfly,

I know exactly what you mean. "Interpreting" a quote is no excuse for a lack of clarity, which usually happens with sweeping general statements. But I have always put that quote about choosing to think within a context of ethics, not metaphysics or epistemology.

In other essays and books, both Rand and NB have stated that if you do not direct your thinking, it will happen in a haphazard manner, i.e., you cannot choose whether you think or not. You can choose how you use your rational faculty, though.

I get pretty bored with the Randroid approach that I have come across, which takes choice, and not biology, down to a first cause (metaphysics). Obviously we all start to think, integrate concepts, react with emotions and the whole kit-and-caboodle because we are born with a biological organ that is made to do that - and it will work to some extent whether we want it to or not.

We can choose to discipline it, though (ethics). Thus we can choose to think (mostly, use our rational faculty, but there are other forms of mental focus), as opposed to let it drift without our inner guidance when rational thought it required. Depending on the situation, choosing to not think can be a very stupid decision.

Thus, I take this quote to be a moral decision where options are possible, not a metaphysical or epistemological one, where the thinking capacity is automatic and comes built into the organism.

Michael

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I discovered that I also have a favorite Branden quote (from: The Benefits and Hazards of the Philosophy of Ayn Rand):

How can you call it dogmatic religion when we can prove every one of Ayn Rand’s propositions?!” My answer to that is, “The hell you can!

There are a lot of Objectivists who should take that to heart!

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Roger,

Here's a quote I almost forgot; I carry it around in my wallet. It's from The Psychology of Self-Esteem, last paragraph of Chapter 6:

To preserve an unclouded capacity for the enjoyment of life, is an unusual moral and psychological achievement. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the prerogative of mindlessness, but the exact opposite: it is the reward of self-esteem.

Thanks,

Glenn

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  • 2 weeks later...

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