Bold Standard

Conservatives' War on Birth Control

192 posts in this topic

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.

But I am not defining integrity in the quote above; I am qualifying it. "When I say 'integrity' on this thread, I am referring to this qualified instance of integrity."

I thought everyone was familiar with the definition of integrity, which is, as you said, the virtue of acting on one's ideas. As you also pointed out, implicit in integrity is the commitment to logically connecting ("integrating") one's ideas with each other. But, as you further explain, NOT implicit in integrity is the correctness of one's ideas, i.e. their connection with reality. So I found it necessary to qualify the concept further in order to stipulate that I also want my future wife to have her ideas connected with reality. (I admit that my way of expressing this was not very well thought through.)

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And probably they did not have sex in the quarry because other people were around.

They met several times subsequently with no other people being around (the forest, the fireplace), but they still didn't have sex. In fact, Dominique tried to avoid not only having sex with him but even seeing him. She felt an urge to visit him every day in the quarry, but she fought against this wish. This is the very opposite of the "instant gratification" approach you make it out to be. And Roark was very cool and collected all the time; he was "wild" when he decided to have sex with Dominique, but it was because he decided--rationally--to be so, and when he decided to be so.

I get the point you're trying to make (I think), namely that there is something to be said for a sexual encounter where you meet someone and immediately feel such a desire that you cast everything aside and wildly throw yourselves at each other. That's nice, but if you think Dominique and Roark's story is a good example for this, I have to disillusion you with some cold, hard facts from the novel!

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.

This is precisely what I was going to tell you. If there is no conflict between my logic and my emotions; if my emotions will be based on all the previous thinking of my whole life; if I can still be rational without re-thinking my values when I meet my wife-to-be--then what again is wrong with a rational approach to sex?

cookies which had absolutely no nourishment value

Contradiction in terms!

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lose out on 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?
Pride!

I cannot be proud until I had sex, but sex by itself can make me proud? What exactly do you mean by "pride" ? (Is it an antonym of "virginity" ? :))

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Let me just state that I disagree with this method of evaluating the issue, as it's far too cerebral.

What do you mean by "cerebral" in this context? (Have I been faster than Burgess? Woo hoo! :))

but I don't consume cookies because they're useful, but because they're delicious

But your evaluation of the cookies as delicious needn't be subjective. They're delicious because they taste well, and they taste well because their nature is such that makes them worthy of being eaten by a rational man (which may have to do with their nutritional value, the hygienic standards of their preparation, or their harmonious combination of flavors--or if they're really good, with all of these things and more). Most of the time, you will not be consciously aware of these factors, but your evaluation will not be subjective just because it is subconscious.

Now, applying this to sex, what do you think is equivalent of "delicious" ?

You seem to be very willing to disregard [emotions] at every opportunity, and even if you acknowledge feeling them you seem to say they are of no consequence.

Which of my statements make you think I hold emotions to be of no consequence? I haven't made a statement on this one way or the other. What I've said is simply that emotions are not tools of cognition, therefore "it feels good" is not a sufficient condition for doing something.

Perhaps you could ask yourself how people here could advocate enjoyment of pleasure itself, without be a hedonist that you're afraid of becoming.

Either you act on the premise "if it feels good, do it" or you don't act on it. If you do, you're a hedonist, to the extent and at the times when you use an emotion of pleasure as a tool of cognition.

a hedonist that you're afraid of becoming.

I'm not afraid of becoming anything; I'm very confident that my principles are the right ones for living a life worthy of a rational man, and I'm proud to have acted on my principles consistently.

You guys are the ones afraid of me becoming (or already being) a self-abnegating Christian. You seem to think that I secretly, subconsciously want to have sex with people I'm not going to marry; that I feel a strong desire to go to bed with people and then never see them again but I'm "suppressing" it and thereby making my life miserable; that I'm only claiming that I don't desire strangers because on Sunday the preacher told me that such desires are evil and I'm afraid to admit them. You seem to think that Amor keeps wantonly shooting everyone with his arrows and anyone who claims to be free of such inexplicable lusts is in denial.

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I cannot be proud until I had sex, but sex by itself can make me proud? What exactly do you mean by "pride" ? (Is it an antonym of "virginity" ? :))

Pride is justifiable self-respect, elation over an act or possession.

Sex is a celebration of oneself, it is an act of elation.

Elation is to be filled with joy.

Joy is a filling of happiness.

Happiness can only come from the achievement of one's values. Happiness is the successful state of life.

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What do you mean by "cerebral" in this context? (Have I been faster than Burgess? Woo hoo! :))

From the American Heritage Dictionary:

cer·e·bral

adj.

1. Of or relating to the brain or cerebrum.

2. Appealing to or requiring the use of the intellect; intellectual rather than emotional: “His approach is cerebral, analytical, cautious” (Helen Dewar).

In common parlance (or at least how I understand it) the word means emphasizing the cognitive aspect too much, disregarding or even interfering with the emotional aspect or emotional enjoyment. There's a proper time for thought, and a proper time for feeling. For instance, in the middle of sex such a person may suddenly stop and start thinking about "what premises led me to have sex at this moment?", "I wonder how I acquired those premises", "I wonder what premises other people have when having sex" -- right in the middle of a sex act. That's being cerebral. I'm not saying that's what you'd do, merely clarifying my explanation of what the word means, and an instance of how it might be applied. In your case, I apply "cerebral" in the sense that merely feeling pleasure (from eating cookies) is not enough for you, and you must understand or think about the cognitive aspect of that pleasure if you're to proceed with the eating of the cookie. That's also being cerebral, because the emotion itself seems never to be enough. While it's true that emotion often may not be enough, but for you it never is.

And what's the philosophical reason? (There always is one.) Because you define "hedonist" as someone who "if it feels good, does it". And that is the root issue. I advocate here that one may do something merely due to it feeling good, and you object that this is hedonism and instead profess the cerebral methodology where merely feeling is never enough.

The way to resolve this very fundamental issue is to analyze the phrase, "if it feels good, do it". There is actually a hidden premise here: "if it feels good, and rational objections are disregarded, do it". That is the way the phrase is used in derogatory sense, e.g. the way I understand Ayn Rand to have used it. I have good reason to believe she did not advocate the cerebral approach because there are ample examples in her works of characters who abandon themselves wholly to emotion, or passion, in which circumstances "pausing to think" would be singularly inappropriate. For instance, Rearden ripping Dagny's clothes off and only in the morning coming to realize that he should blame himself; yes it's true that he was following is best convictions by spending the night with her, but he didn't spend the time to think about it, and figure things out; he acted on his right convictions, even without having consciously understood them. The Roark/Dominique scene is another famous example -- yes it's true that Roark had acquired a conviction that Dominique was worthy of him (in the little time that he spent learning about her), but he didn't feel it necessary to sit around and probe his subconscious for reasons for being sexually drawn to Dominique; he just was, and that was enough. He was confident enough in his emotions.

And that is the ultimate root of all of this -- whether one trusts one's emotions or not. For someone who doesn't trust one's emotions, "if it feels good, do it" is derogatory in all senses, not just one. For someone who does trust one's emotions, "if it feels good, do it" becomes derogatory only with the inclusion of an implied premise that the emotional processes are disregarded. A person who trusts one's emotions will object to at no time being emotionally driven, because he trusts that his mind can make the right choice for him even if he won't always know why. A person who doesn't trust one's emotions will never believe that, and will always demand to probe his subconscious to verify that what he's feeling is actually proper.

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Also, to clarify, I'm not saying that those who advocate enjoying the emotion itself (such as myself) necessarily don't know the cognitive aspects that give rise to it; they may or they may not know it, and that's not the point. The point is, there's a rejection of the cerebral methodology here, and it becomes granted that there are times to think, and times to feel (trusting one's emotions).

Because of this, pleasure now ends up becoming a viable value and goal in and of itself.

And because of this, pleasure can at times be advocated as its own goal.

And that's why such people can sleep with a beautiful woman (such as Dominique) without having any idea what it was about her that attracted them. And others of the same group may know precisely what it is that attracted them to a woman, and allow themselves wholly to abandon themselves to passion.

Trust in one's emotions -> allowance for feeling as well as thought -> feeling as well as thought becoming a value.

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What do you mean by "cerebral" in this context? (Have I been faster than Burgess? Woo hoo! :))

I too was considering a query about that wording. So, yes, this time you were faster, but don't relax just yet.

This has been a very informative discussion. Thanks to all.

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Pride is justifiable self-respect, elation over an act or possession.

Sex is a celebration of oneself, it is an act of elation.

This does not answer the question. You implied that sex is the only way of achieving pride (because I'll miss out on pride unless I have sex, ergo I have no alternative means of being proud).

And you say that pride is justifiable self-respect, but the only things that can justify self-respect are virtue and achievement. There's no point in a celebration unless there is something to celebrate, and if there is something to celebrate, you can be proud of it even before you begin to celebrate. To express it more simply: celebration does not pride make.

And I even disagree that sex is a celebration of oneself. I think it is primarily a celebration of the virtues and achievements of your beloved (and only by virtue of her celebration of your virtues and achievements is it a reflection of your virtues and achievements). But if you're planning to replace her with another woman soon, is she really worth celebrating? Who sounds more authentic on the Fourth of July, the person who says that America is the objectively the greatest country and he would never leave it for elsewhere, or the one who says that it's nice to stay in America until he finds some other place to watch fireworks in?

Happiness can only come from the achievement of one's values.

Precisely. This is why I objected to Stephen's premise that I valued my happiness--because that would translate into "happiness can only come form the achievement of one's happiness." You need specific values to pursue, not just an emotional reaction, otherwise you're like a dog chasing its own tail.

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Pride is justifiable self-respect, elation over an act or possession.

My understanding is that the word "pride" can name a variety of ideas.

1. You have described one above. As elation, it is an emotion resulting from certain kinds of actions taken.

2. The term "pride" is often used by egalitarians and the religious to name a vice -- a package-deal of haughtiness, which is objectively bad, and self-esteem, which is objectively good.

3. Another idea named by the word "pride" is that it is a virtue, that is, a means to an end, specifically a characteristic action everyone needs to take in order to achieve philosophical values. In my summary (but borrowing Ayn Rand's words), pride is the virtue of "moral ambition," that is, being ambitious about becoming a fully moral person.

That is my interpretation of what "pride" is in Objectivism. I hope everyone will examine Ayn Rand's own words. "Pride," The Ayn Rand Lexicon, pp. 380-381, contains excerpts of her writings on the subject. There, as quoted from Galt's Speech, reproduced in part in For the New Intellectual, p. 160 (hb) or 130 (pb), Ayn Rand says:

"Pride is the recognition of the fact that you are your own highest value and, like all of man's values, it has to be earned -- that of any achievements open to you, the one that makes all others possible is the creation of your own character ...."

(Bold added for emphasis. There is much more to her description of the virtue of pride and its implications.)

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And that is the ultimate root of all of this -- whether one trusts one's emotions or not.

There's an important distinction to make regarding the issue of "trusting one's emotions." Emotions can be thought of as a form of "evaluational memory" : they serve to remind you automatically of your previous value-judgments, and motivate you to act on them. So the question really boils down to: "Can you trust your memory?" And the answer is, of course you can. You can trust your memory to recall what previously happened to you, and you can trust your emotions to tell you how you previously evaluated something.

And here's where the distinction is. What I argue against is using your emotions as tools of cognition. "It once felt good, therefore it's good now"--this is like saying, "I remember Bill Clinton once being the president, therefore Bill Clinton is the president right now." Even if all your observations in 1998 were correct, some of the things you observed back then may have changed since; even if all your past evaluations were correct, some of the facts that gave rise to them may have changed since. To keep your eyes open does not amount to mistrusting your memory; to keep reasoning about your values does not amount to mistrusting your emotions.

Now, if you remember that George W. Bush was the president yesterday and you know that today is not January 20 of a post-election year, there is no need to check the newspapers to see if George W. Bush is still president today. You can trust your memory. And if you feel a sexual desire for a woman, there is no need to suddenly stop kissing her and sit buried in thoughts about whether she's really worthy of your love. You can trust your emotions.

But this presupposes that your memory of George W. Bush being the president be based on objective reality--and also that your evaluation of the woman as desirable be based on objective reality. You can have objective memories of conscious as well as subconscious observations, and likewise you can have objective emotions resulting from conscious as well as subconscious evaluations.

I think what some of the posters mistook to be my argument, and what started this branch of the discussion, could have been what they saw as my opposition to emotions based on subconscious evaluations. I am not opposed to them; they can be just as fine as memories based on subconscious observations. I am not mistrusting my subconscious; in fact, as I already pointed out in a previous post, most of my emotions I've described have been based on subconscious evaluations and I've only made them conscious now, for the purpose of explaining them to you.

What I do argue against is the analogous equivalent of taking a memory of something you dreamed of as a fact--that is, non-objective emotions--as well as the analogous equivalent of saying that your goal in life is to remember your life--that is, pursuing emotional reactions as goals.

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Trust in one's emotions -> allowance for feeling as well as thought -> feeling as well as thought becoming a value.

Thought is not a value, except by virtue of being a tool for achieving other values. It's a bit like money: it's a value because it allows you to acquire things you already valued before you began valuing money. What money is to exchange, thought is to the creation of values--namely, the means of exchange and the means of the creation of values.

And the same applies to feeling, as feeling--like memory--can be thought of as a subheading of "thought." Well, at least it is one for objective thinkers. Logic, memory, emotions--for a rational person, these will all be parts of the same reasoning process aimed at identifying and achieving values, each playing its proper role at the proper time.

Saying "do it for pleasure" is like saying "do it so you can think you've done it." Yes, it's nice to feel pleasure, just like it's nice to think I've gotten something done--provided that it's something worth getting done; something that is good for my life given my nature as a man. This is what I'm missing regarding the advocacy of uncommitted sex: how does it make my life better than having just one woman in my life? What's in it for me, if my purpose is to maximize my achievement of my life qua man?

You needn't convince me that sex is good--I know it is. Instead, you need to convince me of something far less obvious: that having several transient relationships in your life is superior to having one devoted, all-encompassing partnership with the person most worthy of it.

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And I even disagree that sex is a celebration of oneself. I think it is primarily a celebration of the virtues and achievements of your beloved (and only by virtue of her celebration of your virtues and achievements is it a reflection of your virtues and achievements). But if you're planning to replace her with another woman soon, is she really worth celebrating?

Premarital sex doesn't have to be that way. Witness Dagny's three relationships. Only one of them is her final choice. As Rand explained in Ayn Rand Answers, neither Francisco nor Hank could be her final choice -- with Francisco, they were too young, and with Hank, he was married to another woman due to an honest error in his premises. Yet she still derived enormous value from her relationships with both. Before Dagny met John Galt, she didn't know that such a man -- a man who represented her highest values AND who was 100% available to her -- could exist. Should she have denied herself the great values of her relationships with Francisco and Hank because they could not be her final choice?

Dagny wasn't thinking, "I'm going to sleep with Hank, but I'm going to look for other men and replace him as soon as I can." She simply reveled in the joy of their relationship, while not deceiving herself about the fact that he WAS married and therefore could not be her final choice.

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Saying "do it for pleasure" is like saying "do it so you can think you've done it." Yes, it's nice to feel pleasure, just like it's nice to think I've gotten something done--provided that it's something worth getting done; something that is good for my life given my nature as a man. This is what I'm missing regarding the advocacy of uncommitted sex: how does it make my life better than having just one woman in my life? What's in it for me, if my purpose is to maximize my achievement of my life qua man?
But why is it your purpose to maximize your achievement of your life qua man? I mean why live at all? What's in it for you? Consider the following quote from Galt's speech:
By the grace of reality and the nature of life, man - every man - is an end in himself; he exists for his own sake, and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose.
(Bold is mine.) Do you agree with the statement in bold?

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So the question really boils down to: "Can you trust your memory?"

I don't agree that this is what the question boils down to. What was it that Roark was remembering when he decided to have sex with Dominique? He was a virgin, so what "previous value-judgments" was he hearkening back to? Let's agree on the facts here, Roark did not consciously theorize about his choice to sleep with Dominique, either philosophically or psychologically. He felt attraction, he trusted his emotions, and he acted on it. Without having any conscious idea about what it was about her that attracted him, and without the slightest interest in poking into his subconscious to fish these things out. His philosophical interest begins to show only at the end of the book, and mainly towards the outside world rather than inwardly towards his subconscious or his love choices. Roark is not a philosopher, so it's obviously okay if these questions don't interest him. But how can he possibly be secure in his choice of Dominique, especially as early as the quarry scene, if he must verify all of his emotions? If according to you he's supposed to think everything through, and value the steps of his conscious choices rather than the automatized emotional reaction he's feeling? Because from the book it's clear that for Roark, his pursuit of Dominique is a simple pursuit of pleasure, based upon his values. It's a pursuit of rational pleasure, based upon rational values, but a pursuit of pleasure it is nonetheless. Nor is there interest in commitment, I remind you. He's gone through the window, for good.

There's an important distinction to make regarding the issue of "trusting one's emotions." Emotions can be thought of as a form of "evaluational memory"
No. Automatized value-judgments do not imply automatized conscious value-judgments. The "previous actions" that one would subsume under an emotion can all be entirely subconscious. And so a statement that emotions are simply one's memory would be very ambiguous, because "memory" refers to remembering one's conscious actions or choices, whereas emotions are most often due to one's subconscious actions or choices.

The overall point is, that IF one trusts one's emotions, then one is more willing to give his emotions a free reign without being afraid of becoming a hedonist (as you explicitly were in this post). And IF a person is comfortable with having a purely emotional moment without demanding or worrying where it came from, then he's free to act to gain [or keep] such moments again in the future. And that is the foundation for saying that one can seek a pleasure for no other goal than the pleasure itself, which is the key point of contention in this discussion.

------------------------------

Now, as to your point that valuing an emotion is circular logic, which you raise in a response to me,

What I do argue against [...] saying that your goal in life is to remember your life--that is, pursuing emotional reactions as goals.

And to Stephen,

This is why I objected to Stephen's premise that I valued my happiness--because that would translate into "happiness can only come form the achievement of one's happiness." You need specific values to pursue, not just an emotional reaction, otherwise you're like a dog chasing its own tail. [emphasis mine]

You make a big assumption that emotions cannot be values. That's a huge assumption. Values are nothing more than something one acts to gain or keep. There's nothing more than that! It's not implied that only beings with free will (humans) can have values, or even that only conscious creatures (animals) can have values. In fact, as Harry Binswanger shows in "Biological Basis for Teleological Concepts", non-conscious(!) creatures such as trees can have values, or in fact any alive beings as such! There's nothing mystically "human" about values. It's something that all living creatures chase. Emotions, being just states of human consciousness, are entirely open for us to act to gain or keep, and it's understandable if we do -- because they're enjoyable (by definition). So we don't pursue just the virtue of Pride alone, as some abstract disembodied Brains, but we pursue the virtue and the emotion that results from achieving it. I pursue not only the intellectual acknowledgment of expressing myself correctly here, but also the emotional satisfaction of having said what I wanted to say. Both can be values, not one or the other.

Nor is the logic circular, because you disregard the component of time here. You act now, so that you can be proud and feel proud later. It's a spiral, there's no circularity here.

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FC, in your post (#111) you say that "And I even disagree that sex is a celebration of oneself." Since, when you have sex, it will be you experiencing the pleasure of your body, and your partner experiencing the pleasure of hers, how could it not be a celebration of one's self? Unless, for you---the person you profess to love you do not really desire and the only way you can get through the sex act is to imagine you are sleeping with someone else, and the whole experience is some kind of internal torture?

Also, I would ask you, do you think it would be wrong for you (or anyone) to seek and to use sex as a celebration of yourself (or themselves)? And why? And more generally, do you think it wrong to celebrate one's self in any way, in any area of life? Why, or why not?

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CF,

First off you asked for a definition of what I thought pride was, I gave it and then you say that does not answer your question. I can only rebutt by stating that it is an answer although you might not like it and so be it.

In the context of sex the celebration is something that one partakes in, in which they had a part of producing. You cannot primarily celebrate your beloved/sexual partner during sex as you did not play a part in the forming of their character, they did. So, the only one left to celebrate is yourself, that simple.

Why can't you value your happiness? Happiness is the state of being successful. If I am successful in life that means I have achieved my goals/values. So I value my happiness as the value of achieving my state of succesfulness, which means a state of happiness. One can value the state of happiness as the reward for achieving success. An example would be that I wake-up in a state of happiness knowing that I am living successfully.

Finally, for the record I am not trying to stop your or anyone else from waiting to have marital sex. I was trying to enlighten you on the value that sex can be as an independent value. Marriage does not have to have anything to do with it, if one chooses. If you want to wait or never know what an extreme value sex can be,so be it. I choose to celebrate it as much as I can, as the grand value that it is.

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CF, can you clarify something for me? Are you saying that you won't have sex with a woman until you care for her enough to marry her, or that you won't have sex with her until after you're married?

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I don't agree that this is what the question boils down to. What was it that Roark was remembering when he decided to have sex with Dominique? He was a virgin, so what "previous value-judgments" was he hearkening back to?...

How do you know Roark was a virgin before he had sex with Dominique? I've never assumed one way or the other on this question.

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How do you know Roark was a virgin before he had sex with Dominique? I've never assumed one way or the other on this question.

I think Ayn Rand said as much, either in her journals, in a letter reply to a fan, or both (I can't provide a citation though, sorry, it was from memory). I do remember from the journals that in earlier drafts Roark was supposed to have had cold impersonal sex with some meaningless women before meeting Dominique, but AR had eventually stricken that out as not compatible with Roark's integrity. If you want, I can try to find it tomorrow, it's in the "Fountainhead" section of the Journals. But actually, it occurs to me that just the fact that AR had originally thought of including these incidents gives indication of what she thought about pursuing pleasure for its own sake.

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Let's agree on the facts here, Roark did not consciously theorize about his choice to sleep with Dominique, either philosophically or psychologically.

It is not explicitly stated in the novel, no.

Without having any conscious idea about what it was about her that attracted him, and without the slightest interest in poking into his subconscious to fish these things out.

How do you know that?

His philosophical interest begins to show only at the end of the book,

Then why was he interested in the principle behind the Dean right at the beginning of the book?

Roark is not a philosopher, so it's obviously okay if these questions don't interest him.

Philosopher or not, one should be able to name the reasons behind one's every action - especially when it involves something as important as sex.

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