Scott A.

The Psychological Value of Objects, Part 1

32 posts in this topic

Is there an established literature in your field on this topic that you could add to? I hope you are considering publishing your insights beyond just here on the Forum. It's something with meaning to a lot of people in many different ways.

I'll second that.

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Is there an established literature in your field on this topic that you could add to? I hope you are considering publishing your insights beyond just here on the Forum. It's something with meaning to a lot of people in many different ways.

I'll second that.

Thanks ewv and Paul! I actually started writing a response on Saturday night to things you each wrote, but then got tired and haven't gotten back to it yet. I'm also working on the second part.

To your question, I'm sure there are writings on this, but I can't say I'm overly familiar with them. There is a sub-school of Psychoanalytic thought called Object Relations that has some bearing on this. Even among the Analysts I think it's considered somewhat esoteric, but they have some interesting ideas and I use a couple in therapy.

I doubt I'll ever contribute to the literature in any established school of thought for a couple reasons. First, I'm not an academic. Second, I'm not a member of any of those schools. I would like to write some relatively brief books, but who knows when. I don't seem to have enough time to write the second part of this essay. :huh: However, encouragement such as yours definitely motivates me, and so I thank you both again.

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I'll second ewv and Paul. I'd be interested in reading more of your thoughts on this matter.

Like you, I started writing a long reply to this thread, but I ran out of time to get my thoughts organized into a coherent, meaningful response and scrapped it. :blush: But I will say I agree with what you wrote - my room goes through "jugement day" every few years. While I fortunately still have both of my parents, I still like finding random objects that remind me of who I was....and show me where I'm going. For example, the other week I found the rough draft of the first essay I wrote in high school - my teenaged self argued that happiness, not knowledge, should be the goal in life. For me, that essay produces the same feeling of quiet determination as I get when looking at a good piece of art.

Though I must say that I'm more interested in the same idea applied to music. While ewv notes that it's slightly different, because you can get pleasure out of music in the present without the significance of the memories attached, I personally feel like music is a larger trigger for me than objects. I can remember exact the time and place when I first fell in love with a song. When the initial infatuation period is over, I often shelve the song for a bit. But then I'll come back to it years later and remember exactly where I was and what I was feeling when I fell in love with it. And I mean specific: I'll recall EXACTLY where I was and what I was doing the moment when I realized I loved it. From the desk in the library I was working at (and the project on which I was working); to the exact rock on which I was sitting while fly fishing with my dad in Northern Idaho; to the stop light at which I was stopped. And regardless of how my perspective has changed, the song will evoke the same emotions I was feeling when I first realized I loved it.

Besides ewv's observations, another obvious difference between music and objects is that there's no jugement in my case - I can keep all of those songs around because of the awesomeness that is modern technology.

Anyway, hope you have time to post additional thoughts on this subject. Oh, and I'd buy any book(s) you manage to get published.

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Anyway, hope you have time to post additional thoughts on this subject. Oh, and I'd buy any book(s) you manage to get published.

Now that's motivation. :lol: Thank you very much, and I appreciate the thoughts you offered to this conversation.

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Scott, I just took a look at this thread for the first time.

Your words are eloquent, and state what many others have felt.

The big issue here is: the importance of valuing. Dr. Peikoff once said (in "Fact and Value") that the hallmark of a true Objectivist is, that he is a valuer.

I have had grim proof of that in the past year. There are poseurs pretending to be Objectivists, who do not value strongly enough even to say that politicians who are trying to force Death Panels on their loved ones, causing them needless suffering and death, are evil. Perhaps they have no loved ones. Perhaps they've never actually loved anyone or anything, not once in their entire lives.

Can you imagine Miss Rand's reaction, if she were alive today, and a politician told her, "Sorry, we won't allow your husband Frank to have that operation he needs, he'll just have to die. But you don't hold that against us, do you?"

On a lighter note:

Do you realize how many baby boomers (like myself) spend time on EBay, hunting for things from our childhood we now fervently wish we (or our parents) had never thrown or given away? Toys ... games ... books ... comics ... trading cards ... chemistry sets ... hobby items ... records ... photos ... yearbooks ... movies ... TV programs ... plastic models ... cereal premiums ...

The rule is: WHEN IN DOUBT ... KEEP IT!

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Just noticed that this thread has a second page, and several of you have already posted on the value of old books, records, etc.

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Though I must say that I'm more interested in the same idea applied to music. While ewv notes that it's slightly different, because you can get pleasure out of music in the present without the significance of the memories attached, I personally feel like music is a larger trigger for me than objects. I can remember exact the time and place when I first fell in love with a song.

Many people have observed the kinds of responses to music which you describe, but I wasn't emphasizing the distinction between objects and musical sounds, but rather using historical musical objects as an example of how you can enjoy an old object through appreciation in accordance with your present standards, as distinct from the memories the object invokes -- even though your past enjoyment and current experience may usually be related because you're the same person with essentially the same criteria and because you can't separate all aspects of current enjoyment with memories of past enjoyment. Likewise, you may continue to enjoy other kinds of objects like books or models apart from or in addition to the memories associated with them.

Besides ewv's observations, another obvious difference between music and objects is that there's no jugement in my case - I can keep all of those songs around because of the awesomeness that is modern technology.

In line with the original discussion, there is a distinction between the value of the original object and a recent copy, though you may enjoy both. But if your personal history is more recent than having listened to music on something like wax cylinder recordings, there may be no distinction -- CDs are still used.

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