Guest ElizabethLee

Pre-Objectivist Political Leanings

Prior Politics; Liberal/Conservative/Na   89 votes

  1. 1. Before Objectivism, were you Political, Liberal/Left & Conserv?

    • Very much Liberal/Left
      8
    • Somewhat Liberal/Left Leanings
      14
    • Neither one at all
      20
    • Somewhat Conservative/Right Leanings
      29
    • Very much Conservative/Right
      18
  2. 2. Before Objectivism, were you Religious?

    • Yes, very much
      7
    • Yes, somewhat
      18
    • No
      64
  3. 3. Before Objectivism, were you Politically inclined?

    • Yes, very much
      29
    • Yes, somewhat
      34
    • No
      26

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82 posts in this topic

This is an interesting discussion, and while I don't have a lot to say about it so far, I would add an important subdivision to "relationship to the rest of reality." I think it's important to distinguish between reality generally, and other people. In some cultures, it would take a very unusually foresightful perspective to not inductively conclude that one lives in a malevolent universe, qua other people - but otherwise take a benign, or benevolent, view of the rest of existence, including one's own ability to deal with it (besides, again, other people.) The more irrational the culture, the more an intelligent man can appreciate being alone and the solace of peaceful time alone in both contemplation and action.

I think that's a pretty good subdivision, Phil. As a young boy, being raised as a Christian and hearing a lot of statements from my parents that didn't make sense, I was quite wary of people in general, but loved being alone with things, whether man-made or natural. Hence, I felt an immediate kinship with heroes that faced nature alone, and who also had few friends, like Prometheus or Roark. A very social Howard Roark would never have appealed to me; I'd have been looking for flaws in his character in every line.

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This is an interesting discussion, and while I don't have a lot to say about it so far, I would add an important subdivision to "relationship to the rest of reality." I think it's important to distinguish between reality generally, and other people. In some cultures, it would take a very unusually foresightful perspective to not inductively conclude that one lives in a malevolent universe, qua other people - but otherwise take a benign, or benevolent, view of the rest of existence, including one's own ability to deal with it (besides, again, other people.) The more irrational the culture, the more an intelligent man can appreciate being alone and the solace of peaceful time alone in both contemplation and action.

I think that's a pretty good subdivision, Phil. As a young boy, being raised as a Christian and hearing a lot of statements from my parents that didn't make sense, I was quite wary of people in general, but loved being alone with things, whether man-made or natural. Hence, I felt an immediate kinship with heroes that faced nature alone, and who also had few friends, like Prometheus or Roark. A very social Howard Roark would never have appealed to me; I'd have been looking for flaws in his character in every line.

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I'm over 40 and I fit Betsy's model. I was raised by educated liberals who rebelled against their uneducated conservative parents. My father kept a picture of his idol, Martin Luther King, Jr., in his underwear drawer, where the valuable stuff is hidden. My parents never once dragged their children into a church, and for that I will always be grateful. To the small extent that I had any ideas as a teenager, I was a liberal, but was mostly interested in sex, drugs and Rock'n'Roll. I got a lot of drugs and Rock'n'Roll.

At the age of 8 I declared that God did not exist. My agnostic parents were unhappy to hear their child take a bold stand on an issue that wise people were unsure about. I awaited further evidence, but it never came. To this day I have never seen any reason to revise my opinion.

My Old Leftist mother was appalled by the Hippies. My father, though he had been in the Marines in the Korean War, was something of a beatnik and a dreamer -- among his favorite books was Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" -- and was more accepting the Hippies and the New Left. Neither was overtly anti-American; I think this influenced my decision to join the Air Force at 19.

Atlas Shrugged rocked me when I read it at the age of 20. Thus began my self-education, a love of ideas that has continued to this day. I was stunned to learn that my family and friends were vehemently against Ayn Rand, even though many had never read her. My mother dismissed my enthusiasm for Objectivism as something bright young people go through until they outgrow it. 29 years later, I am no longer a bright young person, but I am still an Objectivist.

As my learning grew and my mind became more active, I watched my parents' minds deteriorate. My father became New Age mystical and was fascinated by the "paranormal" and all that alien abduction nonsense; had he lived, he would have loved the Art Bell Show. My mother followed the path of the Democrat Party and became more and more New Leftist. Today she is your average Dem: mostly she expresses fear and loathing of the Republicans, but has no positive agenda that excites her. As a pragmatist, she is incapable of understanding philosophic, political or economic principles. The welfare state is something like the law of gravity to her -- a fact of reality not to be questioned.

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I have spoken in depth with at least one Objectivist who fits this bill, and I attribute his initial and sustained interest in Objectivism to his high regard for intellectual honesty.

That's very interesting. I'm curious to know whether he traced his high regard for intellectual honesty back to any particular thing. In other words, how did he come to that high regard and when? My guess is that it can be traced to one (or a couple) of the sense of life subdivisions you, Phil, and B. Royce are discussing.

Specifically, I wonder if growing up he was surrounded by bad people and an "ugly" world, but had a deep respect for his own mind (even at a young age) and, therefore, regarded this highly in others.

Whether or not this is the case, I have long thought that--in regard to the subdivisions of sense of life--one's view of himself, or his self-concept, is the most important part. I think one's core level of self-esteem is what Ayn Rand's work speaks to, both intellectually and psychologically. At least that's how it is for me. And I'd say that my sense of life toward others and the world generally has only gotten more positive as a result.

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I have spoken in depth with at least one Objectivist who fits this bill, and I attribute his initial and sustained interest in Objectivism to his high regard for intellectual honesty.

That's very interesting. I'm curious to know whether he traced his high regard for intellectual honesty back to any particular thing. In other words, how did he come to that high regard and when? My guess is that it can be traced to one (or a couple) of the sense of life subdivisions you, Phil, and B. Royce are discussing.

Specifically, I wonder if growing up he was surrounded by bad people and an "ugly" world, but had a deep respect for his own mind (even at a young age) and, therefore, regarded this highly in others.

He certainly greatly valued his own intellect, but he rarely saw the same in others and had no expectations of doing so. The depth of his malevolence was very substantial, but he was as much of a firsthander as one could be with such a metaphysical estimate. I have not seen him for some time, but he was most definitely an example of that of which I previously spoke, a man whose own sense of life deeply conflicted with the sense of life implicit in the philosophical convictions he had come to understand and accept -- Objectivism.

Whether or not this is the case, I have long thought that--in regard to the subdivisions of sense of life--one's view of himself, or his self-concept, is the most important part. I think one's core level of self-esteem is what Ayn Rand's work speaks to, both intellectually and psychologically. At least that's how it is for me.

Though they are certainly related, I think that a person's sense of life is a deeper, even more fundamental issue than self-esteem. Self-esteem is primarily based on one's psycho-epistemology, whereas sense of life can be and often is even broader, being a metaphysical estimate beyond just that (most important) aspect of oneself.

And I'd say that my sense of life toward others and the world generally has only gotten more positive as a result.

Yes, a sense of life need not be set in stone from early years to death, and it is always wonderful to find people who work on psychological and philosophical integration leading to a better unity between their metaphysical emotional core and their conscious convictions. I congratulate you on any sense fo life achievement.

However -- and again this is only based on my observations, though those observations do span more than four decades of getting to know many Objectivists -- I think that over the course of their lives most Objectivists only effect a sense of life change within a relatively narrow range. Expanding one's knowledge and feeling better about one's understanding and ability is not necessarily the same as changing one's sense of life.

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He certainly greatly valued his own intellect, but he rarely saw the same in others and had no expectations of doing so. The depth of his malevolence was very substantial, but he was as much of a firsthander as one could be with such a metaphysical estimate.

I think this speaks to what I've been trying to convey. My original thought was that there has to be some component or aspect of one's sense of life that is positive in order to be attracted to Objectivism. The person you describe had that, despite his deep and generalized malevolence toward others and the world.

Though they are certainly related, I think that a person's sense of life is a deeper, even more fundamental issue than self-esteem. Self-esteem is primarily based on one's psycho-epistemology, whereas sense of life can be and often is even broader, being a metaphysical estimate beyond just that (most important) aspect of oneself.

I certainly agree with this. I was focused on self-concept and self-esteem in the context of the discussion of subdivisions of sense of life. That one can subdivide sense of life speaks to the fact that, taken as a whole, sense of life is much broader and deeper. Still, to the extent one can assign weights or values to each component, I'd say that self-concept is a "prime mover," if you will.

I congratulate you on any sense fo life achievement.

Thanks!

However -- and again this is only based on my observations, though those observations do span more than four decades of getting to know many Objectivists -- I think that over the course of their lives most Objectivists only effect a sense of life change within a relatively narrow range.

I certainly trust your observations regarding Objectivists much more than mine, Stephen! And just to tie this back to some of the original discussion on this thread, let me say thanks to all of you who have been a part of Objectivism from it's public beginning. You have paved paths for me and so many others. Again, thank you.

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People who may be religious but are fundamentally rational in their everyday lives often prove to be Good Objectivist Material. I know. I've "converted" quite a few.

These are people who are valuers and they cling to religion because they think it is their only way to defend their values against nihilism and moral relativism. Once you show them that their values can be justified on a solid, secular, factual basis instead of the shaky foundation of faith, you can win them over completely.

As a good example of this type of person Pre-Objectivism I could not agree more. I had stopped going to church 3 years before, read the ideas of the Founding Fathers and considered myself a deist/agnostic "Classical Liberal". I knew religion wasn't the answer, but I simply didn't know how to defend myself rationally against moral relativism even though I understood how wrong it was in practice, and that really bothered me.

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