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Post 0

Monday, February 17 - 4:45amSanction this postReply
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Luke kindly suggested that I research Objectivist psychology for the benefit of my major. By coincidence, I had already started with Branden.

 

Upon reading Branden, I was struck by the contrast which, had he been a philosopher, would haver entailed a different ethical system. Because this suggestion was met with hostility by the fisslies here, a quick google pulled this up:

 

mol.redbarn.org/objectivism/.../NathanielBranden/BenefitsAndHazards.ht...

 

 

"she presented her case for rational self-interest or rational selfishness in a way that neglected a very important part of human experience. To be precise, she didn't neglect it totally; but she did not deal with it adequately, did not give it the attention it deserves.

I am referring to the principle of benevolence, mutual helpfulness and mutual aid between human beings. I believe it is a virtue to support life. I believe it is a virtue to assist those who are struggling for life. I believe it is a virtue to seek to alleviate suffering. None of this entails the notion of self-sacrifice. I am not saying that we should place the interests of others above our own. I am not saying that our primary moral obligation is to alleviate the pain of others. I am not saying that we do not have the right to place our own interests first. I am saying that the principle of benevolence and mutual aid is entirely compatible with an ethic of self-interest and more: An ethic of self-interest logically must advocate the principle of benevolence and mutual aid. "

 

 

It's obvious that the issue was far deeper than a personal spat. i would guestimate that the philosophical differences drove the personal issues...

 

Eva



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Post 1

Monday, February 17 - 5:45amSanction this postReply
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I don't regard Branden's remarks about benevolence you cite as a fundamental rift about ethics between Branden and Rand. It is a difference of emphasis. Rand wrote a lot about selfishness and very little about benevolence. "Selfishness" for her did not exclude benevolence, and Branden shifts the emphasis. Even in what you cite Branden assures the reader he is not going against Rand's ideas about self-sacrifice, placing the interests of others above one's own, and primary moral obligation. Using the "look inside" feature on Amazon, you can search for what she wrote about benevolence in Letters of Ayn Rand (hardcover or paperback). Regarding benevolence and self-interest being compatible, the following is there. "It is his self-esteem and his self-interest that are the root of his benevolence toward others" (page 556).

 

(Edited by Merlin Jetton on 2/17, 6:03am)



Post 2

Monday, February 17 - 10:13amSanction this postReply
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I'm not an expert on the split up... (because I don't really care.. but here goes my thoughts):

 

Branden and Rand had a physically intimate relationship together.  This was while they were married to other people.  The physical intimacy was known by the spouses.  One of them decided to end the physically intimate part of the relationship.  Emotional turmoil.

 

Then maybe due to Rand wanting to ensure that her ideas would make it through the future, and all of the misrepresentations created by opponents, she fealt she had to seperate herself from people who had just minor disagreements in order to differentiate herself and fight the misrepresentations.  I donno.  Honestly I'm just speculating because I haven't really cared much for their personal life stories and all of the he said she said.  Its a touchy subject in Objectivist circles... and I'm young, didn't meet the people in person, and not caring enough to get involved.



Post 3

Monday, February 17 - 10:34amSanction this postReply
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Eva, as others have noted, there is no conflict between benevolence and selfishness.  The core ethical idea of Objectivism is that life is a process of self-sustaining, self-generated action.  Engaging in this process at a human level requires making the Self one's own ultimate value and then shaping that Self into one able to live and worthy of living.  Once that priority is set, one can then properly rank relating to others into a meaningul hierarchy of values.

 

In my local club brochure, I borrow some ideas from the founders of Franklin Covey to elucidate the Objectivist ethics.  You can read about some of these ideas in my earliest articles in the archives of this site.  In particular, Hyrum W. Smith's book The Ten Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management employs Branden's idea of the relationship between self-esteem and productiveness.  If I were going to recommend a single relevant book outside the Objectivist corpus that shows concretely how to relate values to action, that would be it.

 

Search the archives also for my article "Experiencing Objectivism through Quicken" for more elucidation on tying values to action in the realm of personal finance.

 

The bottom line is that you should not let Branden's article warning about some of the hazards of Objectivism deter you from its study.  Leonard Peikoff himself warns newcomers of rationalistic pitfalls and confesses he is prone to them himself.  It is a danger worthy of noting.



Post 4

Monday, February 17 - 3:42pmSanction this postReply
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Luke,

 

It's not as if I'm trying to press the issue that there's a contradiction between selfishness and benevolence. After all, iot's clear that humans are capable of both.

 

Rather, what's at stake is that Branden seemed to have thought that, to Rand, there was such a contradiction.

 

Or perhaps the psychologist in him is co-opting the philosohy that he left to Rand to do, anyway: because she demonstrated coldness, she believed that selfishness and benevolence stood in conceptual opposition. This, obviously is a fallacy on composition on his part...

 

And thanks again for the additional rererences!

 

Eva

 

 



Post 5

Monday, February 17 - 4:24pmSanction this postReply
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Matthews, it is disappointing to see you natter on about Rand and Branden's personal views as if you really knew anything about them.

 

Rand was fierce and unrelenting when defending her ideas or when speaking publically.  But everyone who knew her commented on her personal warmth and charm.  If you want to verify that, someone published a book of her personal letters and you can see for yourself.  "Cold" is not an adjective that would apply to that woman.

 

Branden did not think that Rand contradicted herself. He was speaking of how much emphasis to place where, and the hazards he wrote of dealt mostly with ways in which young people might mistakenly apply or mistakenly understand her philosophy. He did not take a position that contradicted Rand, or claim that she contradicted herself.

 

You make up ideas about Branden, born of near total ignorance, then, from your mistaken ideas, you create unfounded conjecture, and then declare that what you put out there is his fallacy.



Post 6

Monday, February 17 - 4:55pmSanction this postReply
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Or maybe that capitalism promoters are so cold towards the under privileged starving children?  Again blaming capitalism for the limitation of resources rather than recognizing that limited resources is a fact of reality?  When capitalism actually is the system that results in the greatest resources being created?

 

To the short sighted and special interest groups, capitalism is cold.  Socialism takes care of their immediate needs, without concern for long term consequences.

 

 

 



Post 7

Monday, February 17 - 5:05pmSanction this postReply
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Ya socialism is great until you run out of other people's money and the guns come out.



Post 8

Monday, February 17 - 5:32pmSanction this postReply
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Wolfer. you sound like the playright in The Producers (Springtime for Hitler): '

 

"Jaaa, der Furer, hee vass a goot und kind man!  I knew him vell!"

 

The point, however is the text as cited, unless I can add more....

 

EM



Post 9

Monday, February 17 - 5:47pmSanction this postReply
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Mathews you sound like the poster child for Antonio Gramsci.   Sadly you would probably take that as a complement. 



Post 10

Monday, February 17 - 5:56pmSanction this postReply
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re post #1

 

In terms of writing philosophy, Branden is actually driving at an important point which he might be intentionally short-changing, perhaps ignoring, or simply neglecting as a psychiologist.

 

Although philosophy is divided into sub-disciplines, 'ethics' normally includes a comprehensive statement from any particular individuial as to what human catergories of comportment are, and how they fit together to make a whole.

 

For example, mention 'Nietzsche' (here at Dust-Bunny U) and the ethics you'll derive will center upon 'resentment' caused by Christian charity--ostensibly the conceptual lynchpin that holds his system together.

 

Accordingly, for Spinoza it would be 'conatus', for Hume, 'habitus,  and for Deleuze, desiring machine creating its own agency, etc...

 

Other philosophers are known for expressions: Gert, 'Do no harm', Kant, the categorical,, Maimonides, 'what we owe each other, etc.... 

 

Rand is also simple: "the virtue of selfishness', as stated. Here, the questions of compassion and benevolence beg to be answered in a manner that fits into her overall thrust. And permit me to emphasize that said 'question begging' is a normative part of what philosophy is all about.

 

In my reading of Rand, it's as if this particular chapter was torn out. Yet since my reading is somewhat that of a neophyte, perhaps there are others who might direct me as to where this missing chapter might be found. Otherwise, you're left wiith a regrettable image of Rand qua philosoopher that's foreshortened, to say the least.

 

Now to turn the situation around, it's as if one talked of his/her philosophy of benevolence without taking into account the natural capacity for greed. To this end, in passing, many modern theologians have approached this issue regarding the new Testament--it's accounting of evil is hopelessly incomplete.

 

Speaking as a psychologist wannabe, I do find it interesting how Branden picked up on this particular theme. After all, philosophy and psychology both aim, ultimately , for eudaimia, the peacefiul spirit. according to Branden, Rand simply wasn't.

 

EM

 

 

.



Post 11

Monday, February 17 - 6:46pmSanction this postReply
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Matthews, either you stop referring to me as a fascist or supporter of Hitler or I'll make a formal request that you be banned or confined to dissent.   Post #8 is the third or fourth time you've pulled that crap.  

 

(Edited by Steve Wolfer on 2/17, 6:49pm)



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Post 12

Monday, February 17 - 7:18pmSanction this postReply
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Once again you have it wrong Mathews.  

Greed is lusting for something unearned.  From an objectivist standpoint this is an entirely different entity than having ones self interest as an ideal and cannot be lumped into being self interested.  

Objectivists are not interested in aquiring a n y t h i n g that is unearned as that would bring long term consequences to ones self esteem and is antithetical to the objectivist philosophy.

 

You really should knock off the fascist slanders.  As much as I enjoy mentally masterbating all over every post you make Steve does not deserve that kind of sleazy treatment.

Why the fuxored heck are you even here, it obviously is not to learn anything by having rational discussion or good will towards anyone here.  Go into the archives and do your "research" there as there are over 10 years of discussions and articles that should contain anything you really need to know.

Later Kleenex ...



Post 13

Monday, February 17 - 8:14pmSanction this postReply
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re#11

 

Someone, please, kindly inform Wolfer that the movie & musical 'The producers' was not 'about' Hitler.

 

Rather, the character acting as playright offers a personal hagiography of 'Hitler' that stands in stark contrast to a real historical record. This tension, says Aristotle, produces 'comedy'.

 

Wolfer does the same with Rand: "I know these people personally and you don't, therefore, the written text of Branden doesn't count for anything and you're truly a doodoo head for having pasted it on to the board." Etcetera.

 

 

My larger point is that the fisslies of the world--on this board or off--would prefer to shoot the messenger than take a close look at the written message as posted..

 

To this extent, we're back in Plato's cave, yet again.

 

EM



Post 14

Monday, February 17 - 8:42pmSanction this postReply
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Matthews,

 

You typed this into your last post:

Wolfer does the same with Rand: "I know these people personally and you don't, therefore, the written text of Branden doesn't count for anything and you're truly a doodoo head for having pasted it on to the board." Etcetera.

But I never wrote what you put in quotes.  It is dishonest to imply that I said that.  I've also never said that someone's written text doesn't count.



Post 15

Monday, February 17 - 9:22pmSanction this postReply
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Wolfer,

 

In your post # 5 you wrote as if I authored that thick paragraph-- and not Branden himself.

 

Please also note that no commentary of mine exists from #0's citation of Branden to # 5 of yours.

 

Yet you insist edupon a nasty tone as if I actually had written in a serious opinion to be considered.

 

Newsflash: without said nasty tone on your part,  I would have merely mentioned that 'Wolfer writes a personalized hagiography to avoid reading a text, which is prima facie absurd'. Otherwise, I reserve the right to sarcsasm.

 

. What this means is that the poster of Branden's text really doesn't have to know what he/she is talking about by your melbrooksian standards. The subect is Branden.

 

So take take advice from a 20 year old, wet behind the ears college brat; anti-senile pills are now available!! My eighty-year old great grandad uses them, thereby permitting him, while reading, to distinguish a mock citation from a real one! You should give it a try!

 

Eva



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Post 16

Tuesday, February 18 - 10:38amSanction this postReply
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Sometimes irritants just go away if they have nothing to feed upon.

 

Sam



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