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On 2017/03/11 at 5:56 AM, william.scherk said:

Sometimes you get a glimpse of yourself, or rather a sketch of yourself, while trying to find out something else entirely.

Such a great instructive thread, Golden Rule, despite its lurches.  It reminds me again of Barbara Branden's qualities of mind, the stability of her rudder, the precision of her scalpel.  I miss her most, of all the  VIPs.

Looking forward to Spring.

William, Barbara's thoughts of 'your version' of the Golden Rule aligning with rational selfishness would be interesting. I'd make a guess she agreed with you that one should - although secondarily - respond unto others as they treat you (which I summarize from what you've articulated). If it's mistreatment and discourtesy one gets, they are not justly deserving of one's good treatment, and it would be presumptuous of them to continue to expect such. They should be 'walked away from' before it becomes "self abasing", and as Nathaniel Branden answered to his critics post-Split, expecting him to make 'mea culpas': "I am not an altruist".

As far as the Golden Rule goes - Doing unto others...etc. - I think it's entirely subsumed by the Objectivist virtue of *integrity*, having the confidence/courage to consistently act on one's totality of knowledge: always for one's convictions and values. In every situation, with any other person. That has an objective base, independent of variously mixed people's often subjective and much-mutable standard - "as you would have them do to you". 

(In integrity, I feel is the constant internal conflict that Israel faces and that you now allude to. How far can and should one go to save others "from themselves" (neighbors who have sworn your destruction), treating them by one's own objective standards, behaving faithfully to your own human and moral values  - not theirs' - before it is "self-abasing" ... and self-destructive? And of course, unappreciated and presumed upon by all, enemies and observers alike? Israelis don't have the option of 'walking away'. ) 

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6 minutes ago, anthony said:

William, Barbara's thoughts of 'your version' of the Golden Rule aligning with rational selfishness would be interesting.

It all began with Barbara's thread Altruism:


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The absolute primary:

Nothing comes from nothing.

The higher one values one's own existence and mind, the greater the value to others whom one values (and to many unknown others).

We "are here on earth" to have value, find values and make values.

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Oddly I could find few references in my saved files for “The Golden Rule,” but I do remember discussing it years ago. Did someone mention BB? Here are a few from her that are interesting. Did Ayn Rand suffer from depression? Peter


From: Michael Carriger To: Atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Ayn Rand:  Manic Depressive Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2001 16:48:45 -0400. Kyle and everyone, I am a psychologists so I can speak to the symptoms of Manic Depression.  But I would never attempt to diagnose someone with any psychological disorder without meeting the person, let alone posthumously. Manic Depressive Disorder is today typically called Bipolar Disorder which falls under the category of Mood Disorders.  Bipolar Disorder is typically differentiated from Unipolar Disorder, often referred to as Major Depression.  The primary distinguishing characteristic of Bipolar Disorder is the tendency of manic episodes alternating with major depressive episodes.  In many ways Bipolar Disorder parallels Major Depression.  For example, the manic episode may occur only once or repeatedly.  So even a person who alternates between major depression and normal mood  (having had one manic episode) may fall under the category of having a Bipolar Disorder.  A milder but more chronic version of bipolar disorder is called Cyclothymic Disorder.  Cyclothymic Disorder involves a chronic alternation of mood elevation and depression that does not reach the severity of mania nor major depression.  Individuals with Cyclothymic Disorder tend to be in one mood state or the other for many years with relatively few periods of neutral mood.  This pattern must last for at least 2 years to meet the diagnostic criteria.  In most cases, individual's suffering from Cyclothymic Disorder are just considered moody.  However, the chronically fluctuating mood states are, by definition, substantial enough to interfere with functioning.  Furthermore, individuals with Cyclothymic Disorder are at an increased risk of developing the more sever Bipolar Disorder.


Further Bipolar Disorder has been divided into two distinct types – Bipolar I and Bipolar II.  Bipolar II involves depressive episodes alternating with hypomanic episodes rather than full manic episodes.  Hypomanic episodes are less severe than full-blown manic episodes.  Bipolar I involves depressive

episodes alternating with full manic episodes.


Symptoms of the Depressive Episodes - cognitive symptoms (feelings of worthlessness and indecisiveness), disturbed physical functions (altered sleeping patterns, significant changes in appetite and weight, notable loss

of energy), marked general loss of interest and the ability to experience any pleasure from life, and significantly depressed mood.  Symptoms of the Manic Episodes - exaggerated elation, joy, or euphoria; finding disproportionately extreme pleasure in daily activity; hyperactivity; grandiosity; self-destructive behavior (buying sprees, irresponsible driving - I once worked with a Bipolar gentleman who bankrupted his rather wealthy family in one buying spree during a manic episode and I saw videotape of another gentleman who drove 90 miles an hour

down the main street of a small mid-western town crashing in a burning heap on a bridge and emerging from the car screaming that he was the Phoenix rising from the ashes); rapid and possibly incoherent speech; and flight of ideas.


Additional information of interest:

Average age of onset - 18 to 22 years of age.

Duration - chronic and lifelong.

Treatment of Choice - typically therapy involving managing the disorder with ongoing drug regimens.

Prevalence - (Weissman, et. al. 1991 (reference on request)) 7.8% of people in North America have had a mood disorder at some point in their lives, 3.7% have experienced a disorder over the past year; (Kessler, et. al. 1994 (reference on request)) 19% of the North American population experienced a mood disorder at some point in their lives. There is the information.  Do use it responsibly.  Arm-chair psychologizing can be a rather dangerous sport. Michael


At 12:56 PM 4/11/01 -0700, Kyle Varner wrote:

>Ayn Rand was a genius, there is not question about that.  She wrote what I consider to be the best books I've read.  They often call Manic Depression the "Disease of Geniuses". But Ayn Rand also did some really irrational things (Namley her actions at the time of "The Split). (Note:  I have no first hand experience- just what I've read.)  I would also take into account Nathaniel Branden's account of Ayn Rand's conversations with his wife, Devers, which is available here: Her behavior makes me think that she might have been manic depressive.  I'm not a psychologist and I didn't know her, so I  can't really judge. What do you all think?  Has anyone else speculated that she might be a manic depressive? -Kyle Varner


From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Ayn Rand:  Manic Depressive

Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2001 01:46:38 EDT


Kyle Varner wrote: Her [Ayn Rand's] behavior makes me think that she might have been manic depressive.


No, she was not. She had none of the symptoms of manic depression. She did go through a bad depression, and some of the reasons for it certainly were psychological But that's another story. In almost twenty years with her, seeing or speaking with her almost daily, I saw no signs of manic-depression. And even the depression, although t it lasted for some years, was not typical of her. It's too bad that she did not seek help in the form of anti-depressive medication, but her view of herself did not permit even the possibility of this kind of help. Barbara


From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Ayn Rand: Manic Depressive? Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2001 14:39:41 EDT.

Peter Taylor wrote: If only Ayn had had friends and family (including children) living near her or even on the same floor as her apartment in New York City. Then she may have had the optimism, support and distraction she needed as she grew older.


Ayn Rand did have friends living near her. Nathaniel and I lived in the same building, and a number of other friends lived nearby. We certainly gave her our support, and we tried very hard -- especially Nathaniel, in seemingly endless conversations over a period of years -- to instill her with some of our own optimism, but it was impossible to do; she would grow angry if it seemed to her that we did not understand or evaluate as she did the terrible disappointment that followed the publication of ATLAS SHRUGGED.


There were many things she did not recognize about her own emotional state. One crucial reason for her depression, I am convinced, was that she had finished ATLAS. It was the book she had wanted to write all her life: she had presented, to her full satisfaction, her concept of "the ideal man." This had always been the goal of her writing, it had been the goal of her life. Now, still in her fifties', she had completed her life's work. What was she to do now? There was no other book she wanted to write, she had said what she wanted to say, and, with her enormous intellectual energy still working in high gear -- she was unemployed, and there was no job she wanted. But since she did not see her problem this way, she could not solve it. She looked only at the world outside her for the source of the problem.


I remember that a couple of months after the publication of THE PASSION OF AYN RAND, my Doubleday editor said to me: "Well, Barbara, has the post-partum depression hit yet?" She was referring to a phenomenon very common among writers. While one is working on a long project, that work is one's life. (I recall thinking, when I was close to finishing PASSION, "They can drop atom bombs and I won't mind -- if they'll just let me finish!") Then, when the book is finished, and one has had years of working in a state of almost unbearable excitement, with the feeling that nothing else is so much worth doing, that one wants only to remain in this intellectual and emotional state forever, that there is a bright golden light shining over one's life, that THIS, the work, is reality and everything else exists somewhere in a dim, distant background -- one looks at the real world, which had seemed for so long unreal, and it is flat and dull and inconsequential in comparison to the

endless wonder of the work years.


So very many writers have experienced this "post-partum depression." William Styron wrote about his own terrible depression after he'd finished SOPHIE'S CHOICE, and spoke of other writers who had had the same experience.


I believe that this experience was Ayn Rand's experience after she had completed ATLAS. Would could the world offer her to compare with what she had experienced in creating John Galt, and Francisco, and Rearden? But she did not know what she was experiencing, nor did I at the time, nor did Nathaniel, and so we could not help her.


The only thing that seemed to help at all was her turning to the writing of nonfiction, after Nathaniel had convinced her that that's what she should do. But it could not completely solve the problem. A few years after ATLAS was published, she began speaking of writing another work of fiction, which she called her "non-philosophical novel." She even reached the point of signing a contract for the book with Random House. All through her conversations about the book with Nathaniel and me, I had -- and I suspect he had, although I've

never asked him -- the slightly sickish feeling that she would never write it. How could the writer of ATLAS SHRUGGED bring herself to write something lesser? And she never did.


I feel so many sad "if only's" when I think of her years of depression. If only she had understood . . . if only Nathaniel had understood . . . if only I had understood. But none of us did. Barbara

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On ‎3‎/‎12‎/‎2017 at 11:55 AM, anthony said:

The absolute primary:

Nothing comes from nothing.

The higher one values one's own existence and mind, the greater the value to others whom one values (and to many unknown others).

We "are here on earth" to have value, find values and make values.

...and I'd add... to live values. nodder.gif

For they already exist as objective reality. My choice is whether or not to live in harmony with them. It's in my own best interests not to try to go up against objective reality as if I knew better.



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  • 2 years later...
On 2/19/2016 at 12:13 PM, anthony said:

It was particularly non-initiation of force as "ethics", I objected to. That notion is tantamount to some guy stating "I never beat my wife, therefore I am good". What is the injunction of NIOF, I think, but the front line of defence against potential transgressors? Backing that are individual rights, the moral system (I think not in itself a code of morality, either) also founded on the primary, "man's right to life". And since life requires self-generated acts to its own end, directly follows from it the right of an individual's unimpeded freedom of action.

The issue can vary on how and where one places the emphasis within individual rights. I've thought that some seem to look on those rights overmuch as *a restriction* on one's own actions regarding others ("I must not do this, I can't do that"). Stressing the proper aspect, it is (in the Oist scheme of things) rather *a liberation* of one's own actions, free from other people's and government's intrusions.

Best expressed as "And who is going to stop me?!"

Of course, coming from Ayn Rand, we know that's one thing; coming from a hoodlum or terrorist, entirely another.

The rational, selfishly moral person, by definition, hasn't the slightest inkling of infringing on others' rights/initiating force, since she/he has solid convictions in man's right to life and freedom to act (and the hierarchical rationale from metaphysics to ethics, behind those.)

For the rationally selfish: What ought I do? - in pursuit of one's life and values in reality - would carry through without contradiction, to: What ought I do among other people? People and "reality" are one and the same reality after all.


I am not a pacifist and I think being an objectivist and a pacifist are incompatible. NIOF! Any NEW thoughts on this slow Saturday? Peter     

From: "Dennis May" To: atlantis Subject: ATL: The Strategy of Pacifism Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2001 23:01:45 -0500. All life forms have survival strategies.  Evolution is the process where strategies and the environment interact to create the next generation of life forms who will be likewise tested.  The process is continuous and interactive on many levels. The values of strategies are context specific.  Each life form employs many strategies.  Failures in some strategies hamper success, others may result in death. Many strategies are genetically programmed, humans having the luxury of greater adaptability and a brain large enough to vary his survival strategies.

Some notable strategic failures in animals: Dodo birds and other animals never exposed to predators for extended numbers of generations fall prey to the first new predator.

The prolific passenger pigeon concentrated its numbers into huge flocks and nested in tight quarters.  This allowed a small number of single events: hurricanes, disease, and human pest eliminators to wipe them out in short order.

The earliest Native Americans wiped most of the large game animal species of North and South America.  The strategy of fight rather than flight worked until the new predator – humans came along.  Humans and the large game animals on other continents had interacted from the beginning of man’s development.  Many of these large game animals had time to develop successful survival strategies.

Sudden changes in context may destroy the survival advantage of a strategy.  Genius lies in creating new survival strategies; wisdom lies in knowing when to adopt different strategies as required. In human affairs knowledge of your environment is key to understanding what strategies to employ. Strategies may need to change on an event-by-event basis.

I watched the movie “The Patriot” with Mel Gibson last night.  The question of how and whether or not to wage war changed event-by-event.  The colonists were of mixed feeling on whether or not to wage war; the English were tyrants but still wanted to return to normalcy after the war. The colonists had tasted freedom at the high cost of settling a wilderness, the English had not known much freedom but thought their ways superior.  To fight a savage war or a gentleman’s war would determine how the English and colonists viewed themselves and how they might be able to interact after the conflict.  You can never discount the social fabric of the moment.  I consider a gentleman’s war to be a cruel joke but those at the time did not.

I would have spent huge resources going after the leadership back in England and among the invading army.  The price on the head of any commanding general would have been enormous. The King of England would have most certainly forfeited his life. The question of what-ifs and could-have-beens are not as interesting as what to do today. The pacifists among us are not of one mind on the issue.  I suspect they are comfortable being pacifists only within a limited range of contexts.  Those who are pacifists irregardless of context have latched upon a strategy often doomed to failure.

Successful or unsuccessful tactics depend upon context: Gandhi’s tactics would have failed in Nazi Germany.  The tactics used in the Vietnam War would have worked in Granada. The old saying goes something like: “The military is always fighting the last war”.  A failure to understand a need for a change in tactics based upon new information and new technology is the hallmark of why nations lose wars, businesses go broke, and individuals fail.

Pacifists are an interesting phenomenon.  Their continued existence depends upon the benevolence of others or a lack of predators.  On the other hand a pragmatic pacifist like George H. Smith is avoiding predators by not exposing himself to their wrath.  The qualifier “pragmatic” in front of pacifist changes the entire meaning of the strategy.  Those who embrace pacifism for reasons outside of their own survival or benefit are not egoists but embracing collectivism or mysticism of one kind or another.  An example would be the pacifist who will not take a human life under any circumstance because “all human life is precious”.  How has it been determined that all human life is precious?   By who’s standard, certainly not mine.  When humans have become predators upon other humans I see no value in pacifism.

I consider strategy in general much more interesting than pacifism.  It is my contention that the strategies currently employed in trying to bring more freedom to our lives are failing. Some of the individual strategies involved are fine but taken as a whole they are incomplete or ineffective.  You must first understand your context before reasoning if a set of strategies will be effective.  Once tried, feedback will let you know if a change of strategies is in order.

I see those embracing freedom and capable of fruitful association with like-minded people as comprising a very small minority of people in the current context.  The physical dispersion of this minority prevents many benefits falling under the term “critical mass”.  The only cure I see for this situation is to collect a critical mass of people outside of the existing system [form a new nation]. This new nation of people cannot exist as pacifists whether they view themselves as members of a nation or a collection of anarchists.  Such a group will be attacked one way or another and must defend themselves in order to survive.  The strategy of defense will then become a paramount question. Dennis May


From: PinkCrash7 To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: The Strategy of Pacifism Date: Sat, 16 Jun 2001 01:30:37 EDT Dennis May wrote: >Pacifists are an interesting phenomenon.  Their continued existence depends upon the benevolence of others or a lack of predators.

Everyone's continued existence ultimately depends upon the benevolence of others or lack of predators for no one can fully defend himself against others even with nuclear weapons, for others will always have nuclear weapons, too.  Reliance on weapons has its limitations and many who defend themselves with arms still die a violent death.

>On the other hand a pragmatic pacifist like George H. Smith is avoiding predators by not exposing himself  to their wrath.  The qualifier “pragmatic†in front of pacifist changes the entire meaning of the strategy.  Those who embrace pacifism for reasons outside of their own survival or benefit are not egoists but embracing collectivism or mysticism of one kind or another.

I can't make sense out of that in the context of my own life experiences, which previously did include a lot of weapons training and, because of my particular job, carrying a concealed weapon virtually all of my waking hours.   But I can't see keeping up a defense like that as being compatible with what was emotionally and physically required of me as a mother with a child at my breast.  One of the two was going to have to go, and for me, it wasn't going to be the child.

I see embracing non-violence as a way of life as being very individualist, not collectivist, and if there has been any benevolence involved in the fact that I'm still alive today -- for I endured numerous death threats from my ex-husband -- it was certainly not the benevolence of man.  Defending myself without a firearm against a threat like that would have been out of the question as he was considerably larger and more powerful than me.  But if I had had a firearm for my defense, I would have had to use it on him before he could overpower me and take it from me, because I lacked the physical strength to keep him away otherwise.  So if I had kept a firearm for my defense against my ex-husband, there's no question I would have had to use it, in which case, I probably wouldn't be here today to tell you about it for I'd probably still be sitting in prison instead, serving out my sentence. If non-violence is collectivist, armed defense is all the more -- for no one can truly defend himself against the predation of government as a single individual. Debbie

From: "William Dwyer" To: <atlantis CC: "'Greg Johnson'" Subject: RE: ATL: Re: Christian Pacifism? Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 11:13:47 -0700

David Rasmussen wrote, >I never stated that pacifism was "good," I merely pointed out that pacifists tend not to be aggressors against me. That allows for a "live and let live!," understanding between a pacifist and myself. That is, their pacifism is benign, at least to me. >

Not necessarily. If you were being brutally attacked, and a pacifist could easily stop it at no risk to himself, but declined to do so because he did not believe in retaliatory force, then his pacifism would not be benign to you.  It would be a callously malignant. Bill

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