Morality: Who needs it?


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The purpose of morality,” she wrote in Atlas Shrugged, “is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live.”

I agree with what Ayn Rand writes here but, what we feel after achieving such purpose? Is it serenity that one feels or what?

She only talked about happiness, but that, is a feeling that comes before serenity!

Serenity is a state of mind that goes way behind happiness.


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Interesting point, old friend.

Serenity...lots of talk about that all the time. Alcoholics Anonymous has a pretty realistic take on it, for example.

What is it? Deep peace? Internal balance? The calm mind?

My ladyfriend has achieved what I see as a near-constant, deep state of serenity. It even shows to people who have never met her before. I'm always asking her about it (usually when I'm looking for some, when I've hit one of those inevitable "thin places" that life will throw at you). She has had a very unusual and varied life. A good deal of which, from the beginning, had major horror to it. I think she has mainly a karmic approach- she has a very distinct understasnding of the main things she is cut out to do in her life. Nathaniel wrote about this kind of temprament when he described something similar to it in his former wife, Devers.

As cliche' as it may sound, she first off operates from a "glass half-full rather than half-empty" perspective. This is not so easy in practice as it is touted in self-help books- when you are badly in the straits, looking at it half-full requires a great deal of honesty, self-knowledge; a healthy sense-of-life, really.

Serenity is definitely more power than happiness- it can protect you from some of the very worst fastballs. It doesn't mean being unrealistic, it's an authentic state, and I know it when I see it, and when I feel it.

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Several notes:

1. There are 3 or 4 Quinn Price's in the United States public phone listings, one in Wisconsin/Illinois (same?), one in Virginia, and one in Texas. My guess is that he's the one in Texas, perhaps in college at Rice. But since he insists on perpetrating a secret identity, I'm not really all that interested.

2. Michael, I think this thread more appropriately belongs in the Ethics folder. If you agree, would you please shift it there at your convenience?

3. In re serenity vs. happiness: I think that happiness is impossible without serenity, while serenity is possible without happiness. Happiness is the emotional state of non-contradictory joy that accompanies having achieved your values. Serenity is the emotional state of being at peace with your being a limited creature, who cannot change everything he might like to. If you haven't achieved this latter state, it's not likely you will be able to experience and enjoy the former -- while even if you haven't achieved the latter state, you might well be able to experience and enjoy the former. For an example, think of Howard Roark. While working in the quarry, he was far from having achieved his values, yet he was at peace with knowing that he was doing everything he could for the time being. He was not particularly happy, but certainly serene. (I don't recall whether Rand said Roark was happy in the quarry, but I wouldn't say he was.)

Best to all,

Roger Bissell

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I kinda doubt that Quinn Wyndham-Price is the author's real name.

Many ARI-affiliated grad students post under pseudonyms. The procedure isn't unique to them, though; I know of a TAS-affiliated individual who does likewise.

Would Mr. Wyndham-Price have done any harm, mentioning the Greeks in his treatment?

Aristotle wouldn't have thought that Roark was happy in the quarry. The Stoics, if they'd accepted Rand's portrayal of Roark as perfectly virtuous, would have insisted that he was.


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Serenity or calmness of mind comes with wisdom. It is the result of a long and patient effort of being able to have a good self-control. Having a good self control is also an indication of a better understanding of our experiences and thus a better control of our thoughts and its operation.

When man has a better understanding of himself, he is able to understand others as well, and ceases to fuss and fume, and doesn’t get irritated at every little thing, because he has learned how to govern himself. He has learned how to adapt himself to others, and they in turn feel that they can trust him. A calm strong man is always loved and respected.

In my life, I have witnessed many men destroying their life and turn all that which was once sweet and beautiful in bitter and ugly-by explosive temper.

Calmness is power.


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