|Shayne, when you've met as many rationalizers and liars and intellectual phonies as I have, you get a pretty good idea when someone is playing mind games, jerking you around, rationalizing, kidding themselves, evading relevant facts, dodging vital contexts, etc. Few people I've encountered wear signs saying, "HEY, LOOKEEE HERE -- I'M EVADING NOW." It's thus almost always a matter of using "one's own interpretation and judgment in each situation," as you put it. |
But that's not "something very far from 'empirical observation.'" It's exactly what reason is all about. Reasoning is drawing logical and contextually likely inferences and conclusions from empirical observation. It's also called "learning from experience." Wise people do that, Shayne. It's a wonderful survival skill.
No, I don't draw conclusions of evasion because someone may, on a single occasion, do some dumb thing. I draw such conclusions when I see a frequently repeated pattern of stubborn resistance to facts, even when made obvious. If you've seen hundreds of people lie on hundreds of occasions, and you observe how they behave when they do it, then when you see the same pattern repeated over and over by some new person, you can be reasonably sure you're seeing a liar. And if you've ever lied yourself, perhaps as a child -- or can imagine yourself doing so -- you know "from the inside" what that experience is like, and what behaviors and consequences it leads to.
No, you couldn't always prove such things as "evasion" in a court of law, with the same precision as you could the laws of mathematics. But after experiencing enough examples of evasion and rationalization, you know enough not to take certain people at their word, or let them hold your wallet. Given my experiences with them, I certainly would apply such caution against some of Objectivism's Leading Lights.
But that said, I'm curious, Shayne... Why is it such a big deal to you whether or not what I'm saying "is in stark contrast to Objectivism"? And why such a big deal as to whether I've written some formal treatise on the topic? I'd find your questions far more compelling if you seemed as interested in whether my observations were simply true.
But then, I may have a different notion of where my primary interests and moral loyalties lie.
As I indicated earlier, my view of and interest in Objectivism (and philosophy generally) is not to provide me with some platonic Model, against which to conform my actions or to measure My Moral Worth. My view and use of Objectivism is simply as a reliable compass to guide my choices and actions in the direction of successful, happy, fulfilling living. Put another way, I'm not concerned about Being Principled; I'm concerned with finding principles which help me live well and be happy.
From your comments and questions, I sense we may have different priorities on this count. I concede in advance that I may be mistaken, and if so, I apologize in advance; but perhaps you might rephrase your remarks to suggest otherwise.
Let me also address those so eager to condemn Barbara, and who (like Peikoff, Schwartz & Co.) have gleefully psychologized about what they construe to be her motives. They ought to take pause in the fact that she has consistently been unwilling to declare that Rand did anything "immoral."
In my opinion, Barbara is far too generous. Even granting that Rand's interest in pursuing an affair with Nathaniel Branden could have been simple naivete and foolishness, what Rand was willing to do to her husband in pursuit of that goal was outrageously cruel and callous. "Immoral" is as serviceable a term as any to describe it, because it would take an incredible amount of rationalizing and evasion to pretend to herself that her actions weren't hurtful to him -- or that if she knew they were, it was somehow a failure or weakness on HIS part for feeling hurt and betrayed.
That kind of excuse-making was worse than merely naive or stupid. And those who would rationalize such behavior now, on the grounds that he had no right to expect her to "sacrifice her happiness" (as some have claimed elsewhere on this site) -- those who would even CELEBRATE such conduct as a sterling example of rational selfishness in action, and declare that anyone who would find fault in it embody "Christian" altruism -- those people are simply beyond hope. They are certainly immune to the kind of intense commitments and romantic loyalties modeled by the fictional heroes of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.
And they are welcome to any consequences that such rationalizations of callous indifference toward an alleged "loved one" will bring upon them.
I only hope that they will give their prospective spouses fair warning of their notions of what a "marriage" entails before their wedding ceremonies.