Bold Standard

Conservatives' War on Birth Control

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Does it repel you to think of visiting the beaches in Albania, knowing that you never want to live there?

In my analogy, living in Albania corresponds to having sex with the woman. (And marrying her would correspond to, say, getting Albanian citizenship.)

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You never have emotional responses without thinking first?

"What I would all at once feel is a great desire to get to know her better..."--this is exactly what my emotional response to that hypothetical woman would be. I wouldn't have to think first in order to have this emotional response; it would be automatic.

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A value, after all, is something you act to gain AND KEEP.

Yes, but how long one works to keep it depends on the value and the circumstances (and therefore context). Some values may be short-term because increased knowledge leads to the pursuit of other values as replacements. In some circumstances, for example, a woman may value a man, as a romantic partner, and then switch her allegiance to another man she meets later, a man who embodies her aspirations to a greater degree. That is my interpretation of what the fictional character Dagny Taggart does in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.

Only philosophical values -- such as reason, purpose, and self-esteem -- need be "forever," that is, throughout the course of one's life. An objective person may rightly change his particular personal values at any time as circumstances or his knowledge change.

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It's not a typo

CF, if it's not a typo, I think you still don't see what I'm getting at. By saying, "I don't desire her, because I don't think I should have sex with her", you not only demand an emotional response and proceed to justify how it ought to occur in you (putting the cart way before the horse), but you place this desired emotion as an established fact rather than a goal you're trying to achieve.

That's exactly like saying, "I don't like cookies, because my mom says I shouldn't eat them." Not only are you putting the emotion way first (shouldn't start with a demand upon what emotion should be felt), but you also state a desired state as an accomplished state (even though you proceed to reason it out, as if explaining to yourself why you should try to accomplish it). It's as if stating something in more affirmative terms makes it more real or more true.

The overall point is, you would tell Betsy that she should remember that emotions are only consequences, but yet in your own reasoning you seem to begin with emotions first (saying what should be felt), and then proceed to explain how those emotions would arise. I, and others, am making the point that this should be reversed. If you meet a beautiful stranger, you may want to get to know her more, which is fine. But if you realize you will never see her again, what you know of her at that moment may be enough. And that's okay too.

Burgess also makes an excellent point that "value as something we act to gain or keep" does not automatically imply "act to gain or keep forever".

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Yes, but how long one works to keep it depends on the value and the circumstances (and therefore context). Some values may be short-term because increased knowledge leads to the pursuit of other values as replacements. In some circumstances, for example, a woman may value a man, as a romantic partner, and then switch her allegiance to another man she meets later, a man who embodies her aspirations to a greater degree. That is my interpretation of what the fictional character Dagny Taggart does in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.

Only philosophical values -- such as reason, purpose, and self-esteem -- need be "forever," that is, throughout the course of one's life. An objective person may rightly change his particular personal values at any time as circumstances or his knowledge change.

This is absolutely correct. An even more vivid example would be one of a car: I might value a certain luxury car, which means I act to gain it and keep it for, say, a couple of years at least--but that doesn't mean it's the only car I ever want to drive. I could own other cars simultaneously, and sell it to somebody else in order to replace it with another luxury car.

This does not mean that I still value the car but stop acting to keep it. It means that the particular car in question ceases to be a value, or more precisely, the other car now occupies a higher place in my value hierarchy. I am still acting to gain and keep the things I value the most.

In B. Royce's hypothetical scenario, there is no reason why the woman should cease to be a value to me. So why would I want to restrict our relationship in time? What point is there in leaving her? After all, that is what we're talking about here: a non-committed relationship means you intend to leave the person you profess to love.

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CF, if it's not a typo, I think you still don't see what I'm getting at.

I definitely don't. What emotion am I putting first?

"Sex with this woman does not benefit my life. Therefore, I don't value having sex with this woman. Therefore, I don't desire her." The emotion comes last here, doesn't it?

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That's exactly like saying, "I don't like cookies, because my mom says I shouldn't eat them."

How about this: "I am horrified at the thought of eating these cookies, because I know they are poisoned."

If you knew about some cookies that they were poisoned, wouldn't you indeed be horrified at the thought of accidentally eating them? Or at the thought of a hedonist suggesting that you eat them because they're sweet? If you ate some cookies and then it occurred to you they might be the poisoned ones, wouldn't you get very nervous and wouldn't you feel a very strong desire to go to a doctor?

Do you really believe it's impossible to have objective knowledge about reality and make objective value-judgments based on it? Do you really think that all "I should" and "I shouldn't" is necessarily preceded by something like "mom says" ? Because that's the only way your analogy works; if you replace "mom says I shouldn't eat them" with an objective value-judgment based on your life as the root value, your entire argument disappears. "I love cookies, because they give me energy and make it easier for me to think"--what emotion am I putting first when I say that?

It's true that you may start loving cookies before you can explain how they benefit your life. I suppose it happens that way to most people--it certainly did to me. But you start loving them because your body responds positively to them, and your body responds positively because they're good for you.

And an objective thinker will stop desiring cookies when he's had too many of them. Unlike a hedonist, who uses his previously identified emotion as a tool of cognition, an objective man will recognize it when his body stops responding positively to additional cookies, and will find them undesirable until his body begins to need them again.

Speaking of cookies, I'm hungry ... so see you tomorrow! :)

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Or at the thought of a hedonist suggesting that you eat them because they're sweet?

This is the "bingo" moment -- I don't care what a hedonist might suggest to me! And guess why I eat cookies -- that's right, because they're sweet and chocolatey!! Precisely what's wrong with that? :) Your reasoning seems to be that cookies are only okay if they "give me energy and make it easier for me to think". What if I like them only because they're sweet, with little nuggets of chocolate in them? Isn't that reason enough? And besides, I highly doubt cookies are actually healthy for you, and if energy and clarity of thought are what you need, there are much better choices (energy drinks, let's say, or good tea). You may eat something for the long-term benefits, or you may consider just the sensual pleasure itself, the choice is up to you, and neither choice makes you a hedonist! A hedonist will keep eating cookies until he has a coronary, or until his body starts physically rejecting them; and he will eat all tasty cookies, even if the ones he knows are poisoned; he just can't help himself. A rational person who derives pleasure from the senses as well as from the cognitive benefits is not automatically a hedonist!

I think we have have serious disagreements on what is meant by emotions not being tools of cognition (or about the meaning of "hedonist" for that matter).

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Let me just also add, for disclosure, that what I said here doesn't necessarily reflect my personal dating habits; I'm arguing a principle. At least in regards to cookies however, as soon as I learn that they're sweet and chocolatey, I'm immediately all over them.

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This is absolutely correct. An even more vivid example would be one of a car: I might value a certain luxury car, which means I act to gain it and keep it for, say, a couple of years at least--but that doesn't mean it's the only car I ever want to drive. I could own other cars simultaneously, and sell it to somebody else in order to replace it with another luxury car.

This does not mean that I still value the car but stop acting to keep it. It means that the particular car in question ceases to be a value, or more precisely, the other car now occupies a higher place in my value hierarchy. I am still acting to gain and keep the things I value the most.

In B. Royce's hypothetical scenario, there is no reason why the woman should cease to be a value to me. So why would I want to restrict our relationship in time? What point is there in leaving her? After all, that is what we're talking about here: a non-committed relationship means you intend to leave the person you profess to love.

When Dominique sees Roark in the quarry she desires him and he desires her; neither of them has a thought to spare for committed or non-committed relationships. There is only, for each of them, the gloriously intense awareness of the existence of the other. At that point, the present is all; the future is an

irrelevant abstraction. Their reason for living is both spiritual joy and physical pleasure, and the possibility of experiencing these together at their highest intensity, as an end in itself, is immediately before them. To start thinking, at that point, about marriage or long-term relationships, would be to cut themselves off from the purpose and meaning of their lives. It would be putting pleasure and joy another step beyond them, as if they were goals only worth seeking, but which one should never have, or which were permissible only after consciously following some strict logical procedure----because one's automatic value responses are never to be trusted; which means----one's subconscious is never to be trusted; which means----you can't trust yourself because, at root, you, the desiring you, is evil.

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And guess why I eat cookies -- that's right, because they're sweet and chocolatey!! Precisely what's wrong with that? :) Your reasoning seems to be that cookies are only okay if they "give me energy and make it easier for me to think". What if I like them only because they're sweet, with little nuggets of chocolate in them?

Do sweetness and little nuggets of chocolate have some kind of intrinsic value? Or do you value them because they contribute to your life as a rational being?

As I said, you probably began to value these things long before you could put into words their exact contribution to your life. But they didn't just pop into your mind as values, carried by an arrow shot by a little Roman god. There was a reason you began to value them--namely, that your body responded positively to them. And the reason for that was that they were useful for your body, in a certain context and in certain amounts.

It is important to distinguish between emotions and sensations. You seem to think that I'm arguing against sensations being tools of cognition. I am not; sensations (like the ones that tell you that your body responds positively to a given kind of food) ARE tools of cognition. They make you aware of facts, e.g. the fact that a certain kind of food is good for you in a certain context and in a certain amount.

Such a positive sensation will often be accompanied by the emotion of pleasure. Pleasure is an automatic emotional reaction to your achievement of a particular value. Because they arise simultaneously, it can be difficult to distinguish the positive sensation from the pleasure. But it is vital to do so: those who confuse them are in danger of continuing to eat cookies until they have a coronary--and doing many other similarly foolish things. Their premise is: "It felt good once, and I want to get that good feeling again."

One good case in point is the number of people who tend to think of meat as the ultimate in the desirable, while they look upon fruits and vegetables as the healthy but undesirable alternative. I love fruits, for the same reason I love cookies--and more: not only do they have a high sugar content, they also have a lot of water and vitamines in them. So when I know (through sensations, through conscious reasoning, or both) that my body needs these things, I will value them, and I will automatically enjoy eating fruits--because I'm getting the values I need, as both my body and my conscious mind now tell me.

So yes, your internal sensations are tools of cognition just like your external senses are, and if you integrate the information you gain from them with the rest of your knowledge, then acting on them is rational. And I do see how uncommitted sex could give you some positive sensations, but if you take into account all the facts you know about sex and romantic relationships, you'll find that the value in question--partnership in life--cannot be achieved by merely having sex with people.

And besides, I highly doubt cookies are actually healthy for you, and if energy and clarity of thought are what you need, there are much better choices (energy drinks, let's say, or good tea).

Caffeine doesn't work for me; it only makes my heart pound and my head ache.

Let me just also add, for disclosure, that what I said here doesn't necessarily reflect my personal dating habits; I'm arguing a principle.

If the principle is correct, why not practice it?

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When Dominique sees Roark in the quarry she desires him and he desires her; neither of them has a thought to spare for committed or non-committed relationships. There is only, for each of them, the gloriously intense awareness of the existence of the other. At that point, the present is all; the future is an irrelevant abstraction. Their reason for living is both spiritual joy and physical pleasure, and the possibility of experiencing these together at their highest intensity, as an end in itself, is immediately before them.

Um, they didn't have sex in the quarry.

To start thinking, at that point, about marriage or long-term relationships, would be to cut themselves off from the purpose and meaning of their lives. It would be putting pleasure and joy another step beyond them, as if they were goals only worth seeking, but which one should never have, or which were permissible only after consciously following some strict logical procedure----because one's automatic value responses are never to be trusted; which means----one's subconscious is never to be trusted; which means----you can't trust yourself because, at root, you, the desiring you, is evil.

This could be an excerpt from the Hedonist Manifesto. :) One reason is your eloquence (which I like); the other is your apparent premise that there is a necessary conflict between logic and emotions. As if being rational somehow kept you from enjoying yourself; as if pleasure presupposed mindlessness; as if having emotions based on reason equaled self-abnegation.

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But I don't desire anyone whom I wouldn't want to marry. I feel repelled at the thought of having sex with a person I don't want to marry. Why? Because my value-judgments have given rise to these emotions. If I thought that it benefited my life to have pre-marital affairs, my emotions would certainly be very different--but as it happens, I think it's destructive of my life to have pre-marital affairs.

Please explain how having pre-marital sex with someone is repelling but marital sex is not. Please explain how choosing someone with integrity automatically makes them worthy of marriage, even if they are integral toward communism. Please explain how having pre-marital affairs is destructive toward your life. How can the achievement of a value, your happiness and the enhancement of life, be destructive?

Also, one acts to gain and or keep values, not just to gain and keep. I do not keep every value that I obtain. I did not keep my first car, my first pair of shoes, my first leather jacket, my first nor my last pizza, cookie and many others.

Sex is a value, marriage is a value, they are two seperate values that might or might not be sought together, but they do not have to come as one value.

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Please explain how having pre-marital sex with someone is repelling but marital sex is not. Please explain how choosing someone with integrity automatically makes them worthy of marriage, even if they are integral toward communism. Please explain how having pre-marital affairs is destructive toward your life. How can the achievement of a value, your happiness and the enhancement of life, be destructive?

Also, one acts to gain and or keep values, not just to gain and keep. I do not keep every value that I obtain. I did not keep my first car, my first pair of shoes, my first leather jacket, my first nor my last pizza, cookie and many others.

Sex is a value, marriage is a value, they are two seperate values that might or might not be sought together, but they do not have to come as one value.

If you read my posts before and after the one I quoted, you'll find the answers to most of these questions. So let me just address the issue I haven't addressed elsewhere:

Please explain how choosing someone with integrity automatically makes them worthy of marriage, even if they are integral toward communism.

I suppose you mean "...how integrity automatically makes a person worthy of being married, even if he is..." (Sorry to split hairs, but correct grammar is a precondition for effective communication!)

By "integrity," I mean an all-encompassing integrity that asserts itself in all your actions and ideas; the kind of integrity that would necessarily prevent you from being a Communist. The kind of integrity that Roark and Dominique had, although hopefully not as dramatically manifested as working in a quarry or wanting to protect your values by destroying them. As I wrote early in this thread, being just "a nice gal who knows right from wrong" will do.

Although that may sound like not much of a standard, it is actually the most demanding standard possible. (Remember Kay Gonda and Johnny Dawes?)

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CF,

You have not explained or answered why it is immoral according to your standards to have sex before marriage. You have said that it is repelling, but you have not said why it is repelling. Giving an example of someone's statements is not a reason. You have also not explained why you see two seperate values, sex and marriage as one value.

Finally, if you are going just by integrity, there are a lot of integral people that are Objectivist or otherwise that would fit that bill. But, if what you are searching for is something else, you might never find it and lose out on the value that sex by itself can bring to your life. Do not mistake my statments as having sex with anyone that walks in the door. But, someone that is worthy of a value for value trade even if that trade does not include marriage.

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You have not explained or answered why it is immoral according to your standards to have sex before marriage. You have said that it is repelling, but you have not said why it is repelling.

I never said it is immoral to have sex before marriage. Please read my posts exactly, because I have already explained my position about as well as I can, and I don't have the time to explain it to every poster separately.

the value that sex by itself can bring to your life.

Can you tell me what that value is, without using the word "pleasure" or something synonymous?

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[...] correct grammar is a precondition for effective communication!)

So are exact, formal definitions of core terms/ideas.

By "integrity," I mean an all-encompassing integrity that asserts itself in all your actions and ideas; [...]

Of course, using a term/idea in a definition of that term/idea creates confusion, at best. So, how would you define "integrity"? Does your definition differ from what you understand to be the meaning of the concept in Objectivism?

(For anyone new to Objectivism, I suggest studying the "Integrity" article in The Ayn Rand Lexicon, pp. 223-224.)

[...] the kind of integrity that would necessarily prevent you from being a Communist.

I do not understand. Are you saying that there are kinds of integrity? If so, what are examples? What kind of integrity would, for example, prevent -- at any time -- a man such as Andre Taganov in We the Living from becoming or temporarily being a Communist?

My understanding of integrity is that it is the virtue of making sure that one's actions follow from one's ideas -- that there is no split between them. Implicit in my idea of integrity is a commitment to logically connecting all one's ideas with each other -- that is, integration. However, one can have perfect integrity but still reach wrong conclusions and therefore take wrong actions, as did Dominique until she learned a better way to live.

(As a side note, apparently "integrity" is etymologically related to the Latin words in- ("not") and tangere ("to touch"). Thus in Latin the adjective integer, integra, integrum basically means "whole, complete, intact.")

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[...] correct grammar is a precondition for effective communication!)

So are exact, formal definitions of core terms/ideas.

By "integrity," I mean an all-encompassing integrity that asserts itself in all your actions and ideas; [...]

Of course, using a term/idea in a definition of that term/idea creates confusion, at best. So, how would you define "integrity"? Does your definition differ from what you understand to be the meaning of the concept in Objectivism?

(For anyone new to Objectivism, I suggest studying the "Integrity" article in The Ayn Rand Lexicon, pp. 223-224.)

[...] the kind of integrity that would necessarily prevent you from being a Communist.

I do not understand. Are you saying that there are kinds of integrity? If so, what are examples? What kind of integrity would, for example, prevent -- at any time -- a man such as Andre Taganov in We the Living from becoming or temporarily being a Communist?

My understanding of integrity is that it is the virtue of making sure that one's actions follow from one's ideas -- that there is no split between them. Implicit in my idea of integrity is a commitment to logically connecting all one's ideas with each other -- that is, integration. However, one can have perfect integrity but still reach wrong conclusions and therefore take wrong actions, as did Dominique until she learned a better way to live.

(As a side note, apparently "integrity" is etymologically related to the Latin words in- ("not") and tangere ("to touch"). Thus in Latin the adjective integer, integra, integrum basically means "whole, complete, intact.")

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Um, they didn't have sex in the quarry.

This could be an excerpt from the Hedonist Manifesto. :) One reason is your eloquence (which I like); the other is your apparent premise that there is a necessary conflict between logic and emotions. As if being rational somehow kept you from enjoying yourself; as if pleasure presupposed mindlessness; as if having emotions based on reason equaled self-abnegation.

No, Roark and Dominique did not have sex in the quarry, but the point was they did have sex (a few weeks later without thinking about long-term relationships or marriage. And probably they did not have sex in the quarry because other people were around. Nor was their pleasure mindless; nor was there a conflict between their logic and their emotions; precisely the opposite! The emotions they felt for each other were based on all the previous thinking of their whole lives. They did not have to re-think all their most important values when they saw each other for the first time. They were not in the least hedonistic.

Now, about this cookie thing. If I were stranded on a desert island and the only immediate food I had were some cookies which had absolutely no nourishment value, but did give me a sensation of pleasure when I ate them, I would eat them for the sensation of pleasure itself, which would put me in a better frame of mind for solving the problems of my near future. In fact, I eat a few now, when I come home from work. It is not a mindless pleasure. I am not evading knowledge or sitting bleary-eyed and unfocused when I eat them.

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Can you tell me what that value is, without using the word "pleasure" or something synonymous?

Pride!

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Can you tell me what that value is, without using the word "pleasure" or something synonymous?

"My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productivie achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute." Ayn Rand

Happiness: 1) a state of well being and contentment 2) a pleasurable satisfaction

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There was a reason you began to value them--namely, that your body responded positively to them. And the reason for that was that they were useful for your body, in a certain context and in certain amounts.

Let me just state that I disagree with this method of evaluating the issue, as it's far too cerebral. Yes it's true that the bio-chemical processes (usually) make me feel pleasure when I consume something that the body is useful, but I don't consume cookies because they're useful, but because they're delicious. That's the thing you seem to not understand in what I am saying. Sure, most things do have a cognitive aspect as well as an emotional aspect, but that does not mean that we should always take the cognitive aspect, and always disregard the emotional one. I could not care less how cookies aid my body, and what is it precisely that they help my body with; I eat them for the pleasure of eating them, and nothing more.

So this is a much larger issue now, away from sex and towards our view of emotions as such. You seem to be very willing to disregard them at every opportunity, and even if you acknowledge feeling them you seem to say they are of no consequence. That is a premise I would recommend that you very seriously check.

Their premise is: "It felt good once, and I want to get that good feeling again."

Yes and if you are arguing against this here, you have picked up a rather giant and ethereal straw man to fight against. Perhaps you could ask yourself how people here could advocate enjoyment of pleasure itself, without be a hedonist that you're afraid of becoming.

If the principle is correct, why not practice it?

I am arguing here about a proper way to look at the issue, i.e. that if one wanted to, and given the right circumstances, one could. I'm not arguing that you should go out to a bar this Friday and bring someone home. I practice the principle, and the principle is -- not, as you seem to be saying, that sleeping around is okay -- but that many different circumstances can happen between two decent individuals, and commitment is often a desired, but is not a necessary, condition of intimacy.

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CF, one more question for you. Can you tell me what value is worthy of achieving if it does not bring you pleasure/happiness.

Values are achieved because they are the good, they enhance one's life. Happiness/pleasure comes as a secondary consequence of achieving one's values.

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