Scott A.

"Countering the Terrorist Mentality"

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The U.S. State Department has recently published an online journal that discusses terrorism from a psychological perspective. I have not read all the articles and so do not necessarily endorse or agree with everything in them. However, one article that caught my eye that I did read is "Collective Identity: Hatred Bred in the Bone." Here are some quotes:

For some groups, especially nationalist/terrorist groups, collective identity is established extremely early, so that hatred is bred in the bone. The importance of collective identities and the processes of forming and transforming them cannot be overemphasized. Terrorists have subordinated their individual identity to the collective identity, so that what serves the group, organization, or network is of primary importance.
One of the questions we posed to the militant Islamist terrorists from Hezbollah and Hamas whom we interviewed concerned their justification for their acts of suicide terrorism, since the Quran specifically proscribes suicide. One respondent became quite angry:

This is not suicide. Suicide is weak, it is selfish, it is mentally disturbed. This is istishad [martyrdom or self-sacrifice in the name of Allah.]

The article talks about different kinds of terrorists based on differing motivations. Again, I don't agree with each point of this article, but much of it is very good, and the rest of the journal is, at a minimum, interesting.

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The U.S. State Department has recently published an online journal that discusses terrorism from a psychological perspective. I have not read all the articles and so do not necessarily endorse or agree with everything in them. However, one article that caught my eye that I did read is "Collective Identity: Hatred Bred in the Bone." Here are some quotes:
For some groups, especially nationalist/terrorist groups, collective identity is established extremely early, so that hatred is bred in the bone. The importance of collective identities and the processes of forming and transforming them cannot be overemphasized. Terrorists have subordinated their individual identity to the collective identity, so that what serves the group, organization, or network is of primary importance.
One of the questions we posed to the militant Islamist terrorists from Hezbollah and Hamas whom we interviewed concerned their justification for their acts of suicide terrorism, since the Quran specifically proscribes suicide. One respondent became quite angry:

This is not suicide. Suicide is weak, it is selfish, it is mentally disturbed. This is istishad [martyrdom or self-sacrifice in the name of Allah.]

The article talks about different kinds of terrorists based on differing motivations. Again, I don't agree with each point of this article, but much of it is very good, and the rest of the journal is, at a minimum, interesting.

Without addressing your points directly, the angry response you quote, is reflected in my signature. I have no formal knowledge of psychology, but do have observations and conclusions of my own.

Just as "birds of a feather, flock together", I believe there is something in the makeup of humans that makes them social animals. Antisocial behaviour stands out as abnormal. Although it is speculation on my part, I believe that co-operation and specialization was rewarded by evolutionary survival, while those who did not fit in were less likely to survive on their own.

Yet I wonder at the power of this need to belong. We see it in the points you make about religion. We see it in "Live aid" concerts, and now we see it in "Earth Day" concerts. (Objectivism, by it's very nature cannot expand in popularity this way, since it depends on independent thinking, not an emotional need to belong.)

Still, while I think I understand these sheep like rock gatherings in an abstract way, I just can't get to imagine how they feel when they participate in them. What is the emotion they feel? Why do they feel good tearing down Capitalism and it's dependent structures? The closest anyone came to explaining this to me, was the ex lefty writer who put it down to moral relativism, which in turn was the result of thinking there was no answer that was absolutely right.

Still, speak to any of these PTA, Mother Earth, Anti Globalization fanatics, and they don't seem at all uncertain of their position. So, while it may be easy to say that they hate the good for being good, my question remains; but why?

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Arnold, I think if you substitute "success" for "the good" these people will be easier to understand. They hate any kind of clean, competent, beautiful, healthy success---because it is something they can never achieve in their own lives. They never developed the desire to seek the best in all things, never regarded themselves as important enough to be valued for their own sakes, so that the sight of success is hurtful to them; its destruction creates a feeling of glee, a kind of justified relief.

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Still, while I think I understand these sheep like rock gatherings in an abstract way, I just can't get to imagine how they feel when they participate in them. What is the emotion they feel?

Temporary relief from the anxiety of relying on their own unreliable judgments.

Still, speak to any of these PTA, Mother Earth, Anti Globalization fanatics, and they don't seem at all uncertain of their position.

Their position doesn't really matter. As Eric Hoffer observed in The True Believer, a book I strongly recommend to anyone who wants to understand these people, movements are interchangeable. What matters in losing their selves in the group and belonging.

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That should be

Their position doesn't really matter. As Eric Hoffer observed in The True Believer, a book I strongly recommend to anyone who wants to understand these people, movements are interchangeable. What matters is losing their selves in the group and belonging.

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Arnold, I think if you substitute "success" for "the good" these people will be easier to understand. They hate any kind of clean, competent, beautiful, healthy success---because it is something they can never achieve in their own lives. They never developed the desire to seek the best in all things, never regarded themselves as important enough to be valued for their own sakes, so that the sight of success is hurtful to them; its destruction creates a feeling of glee, a kind of justified relief.

This sounds like a very good explanation Brian. Combine this with Betsy's comment about: "Temporary relief from the anxiety of relying on their own unreliable judgements", then I can see the motivation.

They start out with a lack of commitment to reason - which leads to Brian's comment of lack of values, which leads to Betsy's comment of need to escape.

It seems correct to say that these people are primarily motivated by the need to escape. Perhaps that is why drug use is so high in this group.

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Still, while I think I understand these sheep like rock gatherings in an abstract way, I just can't get to imagine how they feel when they participate in them. What is the emotion they feel? Why do they feel good tearing down Capitalism and it's dependent structures? The closest anyone came to explaining this to me, was the ex lefty writer who put it down to moral relativism, which in turn was the result of thinking there was no answer that was absolutely right.

I want to try and understand them, too, which is why I brought this online journal to people's attention. However, the fact that it's difficult to understand them is appropriate and good, from a certain standpoint. I remember Ayn Rand, I believe in her testimony to Congress about communism, described how an innocent and good people like Americans couldn't really believe the horror of communism. The basic idea was that they (we) couldn't conceive of enslaving other men or giving ourselves up to slavery in the name of a moral ideal. Therefore, they could not possibly experience the same mental state as those who do give in or try to take over. It was quite literally unreal. When people heard about it, they couldn't understand and, therefore, believe it. This speaks to a positive quality of Americans and other free people.

In order to understand terrorists, such as those described in the article, you have to put yourself into the position of a child growing up in that world, to the extent possible (and I admit it is a horrible thing to do because the mental state it induces is one of dread, among other feelings). But imagine you are born in one of these countries. The dominant philosophy of your culture is malevolent and misanthropic. The people themselves are in a constant state of hypervigilance, due not just to external threat from neighboring countries just as, if not more, insane, but, more significantly, internal threat from your own government. There is disgustingly horrible violence around you. From your earliest interactions with humans, it is pounded into to you to conform. Lack of conformity brings real physical punishment. In your surroundings, there may be some modern amenities, but you don't know anything about the possible range of choices and freedoms open to you. Plus, you are told that materialistic interest is evil. The only path to any form of acknowledgement or glory, you are told, is through self-destruction.

This is the world you are confronted with. How would you react? It's impossible to say, but what can be said is that, in such a world, maintaining a sense of one's own individuality and holding to the sanctity of his own mind would be an enormous psychological achievement for most people.

Granted, this is certainly not the enviroment that all Muslim children are growing up in. My understanding is there is some level of financial success allowed, even a middle class, in many countries that support or create terrorism. But how much more frightening would it be if you were part of the middle class, yet terrorists were a part of the society in which you live, and they have the backing of the government?

I think this is what is at the root of everything for a terrorist: fear. A fear induced from the earliest moments of one's conscious awareness, but also mixed with an irrational philosophy that transforms fear into rage, sprinkled with an appeal to whatever sense of individualism and self-interest remains to him (e.g., virgins in heaven). Now it isn't just fear; it's fear to a point of murderous obsession, i.e., hatred.

Fear, like any emotion, has different levels of intensity. The deeper and more fundamental the value-judgment, the more intense the emotion. Terrorists fundamentally fear existence. Therefore, that which does exist, that which lives, must be destroyed.

I don't think it's possible for a rational man to fully, or even partially, induce this kind of feeling and, in that sense, know what a terrorist feels in his moments of destruction. As others have said, probably some momentary relief. But otherwise, I'd say they feel nothing.

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However, the fact that it's difficult to understand them is appropriate and good, from a certain standpoint. I remember Ayn Rand, I believe in her testimony to Congress about communism, described how an innocent and good people like Americans couldn't really believe the horror of communism. The basic idea was that they (we) couldn't conceive of enslaving other men or giving ourselves up to slavery in the name of a moral ideal. Therefore, they could not possibly experience the same mental state as those who do give in or try to take over. It was quite literally unreal. When people heard about it, they couldn't understand and, therefore, believe it. This speaks to a positive quality of Americans and other free people.

In order to understand terrorists, such as those described in the article, you have to put yourself into the position of a child growing up in that world, to the extent possible (and I admit it is a horrible thing to do because the mental state it induces is one of dread, among other feelings).

I have found this approach to understanding other people by projecting oneself into their context and then introspecting to identify one's thoughts and feelings can be very productive in some circumstances and useless or very misleading in others.

It did not work for Roark when he wanted to understand peple like the Dean and Peter Keating so he had to investigate "the principle behind the Dean" by other means. Ditto for my personal quest to understand rationalists. It is also why men and women have such a hard time understanding each others' romantic motivation.

The method of projection and then introspection can work, but only to the extent that the other person's psycho-epistemology and / or motivation are like one's own. Even when it seems to work, the results of the process should always be verified against other available evidence.

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I have found this approach to understanding other people by projecting oneself into their context and then introspecting to identify one's thoughts and feelings can be very productive in some circumstances and useless or very misleading in others.

It did not work for Roark when he wanted to understand peple like the Dean and Peter Keating so he had to investigate "the principle behind the Dean" by other means. Ditto for my personal quest to understand rationalists. It is also why men and women have such a hard time understanding each others' romantic motivation.

The method of projection and then introspection can work, but only to the extent that the other person's psycho-epistemology and / or motivation are like one's own. Even when it seems to work, the results of the process should always be verified against other available evidence.

This is interesting, Betsy. What would you say is the difference between using the projection/introspection method and that of finding "the principle behind" someone? Also, could you elaborate on why you think that the introspection/projection method only works if there is similarity between the psycho-epistemology and/or motivation of yourself and the person you are trying to understand? I ask because, in clinical work, I have routinely had to try to understand others with vastly different psycho-epistemologies and motivations, and the introspection/projection method has worked very well. Thanks in advance.

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What would you say is the difference between using the projection/introspection method and that of finding "the principle behind" someone?

The projection/introspection method works, when it does, because our subconscious-emotional mechanism automatically and quickly integrates thousands of experiences and value premises. If another person's experiences were stored differently or the premises are too different, you may draw a blank and get no answer at all.

For instance

"Never ask people. Not about your work. Don't you know what you want? How can you stand it, not to know?"

"You see, that's what I admire about you, Howard. You always know. [...] How do you always manage to decide?"

"How can you let others decide for you?"

Even worse, you can falsely assume someone is more like you than they really are and come up with seriously mistaken conclusions when projecting and instrospecting. See my discussion of "benevolent projections" here.

When dealing with people very different from yourself, you can understand them, but only the same way you learn about physical nature: by extrospection and scientific induction. For instance, you don't observe a rock rolling downhill and ask, "What would make me want to roll down a hill?" Instead, you observe and examine rocks, hills, things that fall, etc until you can discover the causal principles that explain their actions.

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The projection/introspection method works, when it does, because our subconscious-emotional mechanism automatically and quickly integrates thousands of experiences and value premises. If another person's experiences were stored differently or the premises are too different, you may draw a blank and get no answer at all.

For instance

"Never ask people. Not about your work. Don't you know what you want? How can you stand it, not to know?"

"You see, that's what I admire about you, Howard. You always know. [...] How do you always manage to decide?"

"How can you let others decide for you?"

With respect, I'm not sure this exchange supports the idea that people who have different premises and psycho-epistemologies cannot understand one another using the projection/introspection method. I don't see that either is using this method to the same extent that I'm thinking of. However, to the extent they are using it, I see Roark as accurately understanding Keating's inner workings, which is why he calls Keating's question a "mistake."

Even worse, you can falsely assume someone is more like you than they really are and come up with seriously mistaken conclusions when projecting and instrospecting. See my discussion of "benevolent projections" here.

Oh, I certainly agree with this. However, that is a mistake in using the method and not necessarily a refutation of the method itself.

When dealing with people very different from yourself, you can understand them, but only the same way you learn about physical nature: by extrospection and scientific induction. For instance, you don't observe a rock rolling downhill and ask, "What would make me want to roll down a hill?" Instead, you observe and examine rocks, hills, things that fall, etc until you can discover the causal principles that explain their actions.

Of course one wouldn't try to understand the actions of an inanimate object by reference to human motivations. Similarly, I don't see why one would approach the understanding of another human (even one vastly different than oneself) exclusively using the methodology of understanding the actions of inanimate objects. I don't know how one cuts off one's introspective method and store of personal experience in evaluating any other person, i.e., "only" use extrospection.

But maybe it would be easier to ask if you disagree with the analysis (using the projection/introspection method) and conclusion (that a deep, fundamental fear of existence lies at the base of a terrorist's actions and philosophy) in my previous post?

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But maybe it would be easier to ask if you disagree with the analysis (using the projection/introspection method) and conclusion (that a deep, fundamental fear of existence lies at the base of a terrorist's actions and philosophy) in my previous post?

While you have asked this of Betsy, I have thought a bit about your analysis myself. Through introspection, and observation, I conclude that our make-up, like that of other conscious creatures, has an inbuilt relationship to the world around it. Here I am referring primarily to the pleasure / pain mechanism, which is a guide that evolved via success in survival.

In a normal human, there is pleasure in relating to others, in having a partner, in being part of a family, and in achieving goals (just watch the jubilation when one scores a hole in one). If one grows up in a society where normal pleasures are thwarted or distorted into counterproductive areas, I can see the erosion of the desire to live.

Perhaps, rather than fear, as you suggest, their actions are a twisted way of giving meaning to their lives, even if it is in the next world. Without a reason to live (by that I mean no rewarding pleasures from life), I think that terrorism (in their mind) offers them that reward.

This is the closest I can come to getting inside their minds. While what they value is the destruction of our values, they still seem to want to give meaning to their lives. The need for relevance, is at least one part of them I can understand.

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The projection/introspection method works, when it does, because our subconscious-emotional mechanism automatically and quickly integrates thousands of experiences and value premises. If another person's experiences were stored differently or the premises are too different, you may draw a blank and get no answer at all.

For instance

"Never ask people. Not about your work. Don't you know what you want? How can you stand it, not to know?"

"You see, that's what I admire about you, Howard. You always know. [...] How do you always manage to decide?"

"How can you let others decide for you?"

With respect, I'm not sure this exchange supports the idea that people who have different premises and psycho-epistemologies cannot understand one another using the projection/introspection method. I don't see that either is using this method to the same extent that I'm thinking of. However, to the extent they are using it, I see Roark as accurately understanding Keating's inner workings, which is why he calls Keating's question a "mistake."

I think Roark knows, in the context of his own life, that asking other people to decide a question like that is a mistake. He can also identify that Keating is making that particular mistake. What he doesn't know, by introspection, is how Keating can stand being in such a state. Introspectively, he knows he himself could never do that. Since introspection fails, he proceeds extrospectively by questioning Keating ("Don't you know what you want? How can you stand it, not to know? [...] How can you let others decide for you?").

Even worse, you can falsely assume someone is more like you than they really are and come up with seriously mistaken conclusions when projecting and instrospecting. See my discussion of "benevolent projections" here.

Oh, I certainly agree with this. However, that is a mistake in using the method and not necessarily a refutation of the method itself.

I certainly don't want to refute the method since it is often the quickest and easiest method of understanding others. It is necessary, however, to understand its limits and the contexts in which it works and does not work and to have alternative methods when it doesn't work or its results are suspect.

But maybe it would be easier to ask if you disagree with the analysis (using the projection/introspection method) and conclusion (that a deep, fundamental fear of existence lies at the base of a terrorist's actions and philosophy) in my previous post?

I agree with the conclusion as far as almost all terrorists are concerned, but I did not reach the conclusion by projection and introspection. I simply cannot imagine any circumstances, no matter how horrible, that would make me fear all of existence and not just those parts of it that threatened me.

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For the most part, this collection of documents is an attempt to whitewash Islam’s role in modern terrorism. The authors, with one exception, are determined to convince us that there is no connection between Islam and terrorism.

Here are some examples:

True Islam encourages Muslims to adapt to changing times, but extreme fundamentalists have always opposed anything new, from the telegraph to television.
Islam’s apologists are constantly making claims about the meaning of “true Islam”. Jihadist recruiters point out that “true Islam” is determined by the Koran and the life of the prophet. The Koran includes a specific verse that states the revelations commanding violent jihad against the infidels “abrogate” or cancel any earlier peaceful versus. “Know ye not that Allah can issue new instructions?”
In fact, for two of the groups that were most prolific in (recruiting suicide bombers), the Tamil Tigers and the PKK (the Kurdish separatist group), there was no relation to Islamist fundamentalism.
The number of suicide bombers employed by the Tamil Tigers and the PKK is quite small compared to what Islam has recruited. How can this author conclude that they are “the most prolific”?
Psychologist Ariel Merari states: “Culture in general and religion in particular seem to be relatively unimportant in the phenomenon of terrorist suicide.”
Religion is “relatively unimportant” to today’s Islamic suicide bombers? Religion -- Islam -- is everything to these people. On what planet is this psychologist living?
The most important issues to make clear are that there are no general patterns, no reliable profiles, and no way to explain every kind of terrorism.
There are no “general patterns”? The fact that the vast, vast majority of today’s terrorists are Muslim is not a "pattern" of any sort? No, there may not be any way to “explain every kind of terrorism”, but we can explain about 95% of it by simply reading the Koran, the hadith and the Sira.
But the temptation to equate terrorism with (Islamic) groups should be resisted for the simple reason that terrorism antedates militant Islamism by a very long time and, for all one knows, will continue to exist well after the present protagonists of jihadism have disappeared.
The question is not whether terrorism can be “equated” with “Islamic groups”. The question is whether Islam plays any role in the terrorism being committed by these “Islamic groups”. And since these “Islamic groups” are virtually unanimous in declaring Islam to be their inspiration, the answer to that question is obvious.
It is perfectly true that, as an often quoted saying goes, one person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter.

There are no shortcuts to explain why people choose to be terrorists, no magic formulas or laws similar to Newton’s and Einstein’s in the physical world.

No, there is no determinism. But are we to believe that it is a mere coincidence that hardly a week goes by without a Muslim committing mass murder in the name of Islam?

Another article discussed British law enforcement’s frustration in trying to identify a common factor among their terrorists:

An eagerly awaited House of Commons Report into the events of that day (the 7/7 London tube bombings) concluded: “What we know of previous extremists in the UK shows that there is not a consistent profile to help identify who may be vulnerable to radicalization. Of the four individuals here, three were second-generation British citizens whose parents were of Pakistani origin and one whose parents were of Jamaican origin; Kamel Bourgass, convicted of the Ricin plot, was an Algeria failed asylum seeker; Richard Reid, the failed shoe bomber, had an English mother and Jamaican father. … Some have been well-educated, some less so. Some genuinely poor, some less so. Some apparently well integrated in the UK, others not. Most single, but some family men with children. Some previously law-abiding, others with a history of petty crime.”
Not a consistent profile? How about this: they were all Muslims.
Psychologist and terrorism expert Ariel Merari has correctly argued that it is more precise to state that “no terrorist profile has been found” rather than that “there is no terrorist profile.”3 However, I would strongly argue that there are several real dangers associated with the continued effort to construct such profiles, particularly as far as understanding recruitment to terrorism is concerned.
Yes, the danger is that we may have to state publicly that Islam is the problem.
Why does one person become involved in terrorism and the other not?

• Personal experiences of victimization (which can be real or imagined)

• Expectations about involvement (e.g., the lures—such as excitement, mission, sense of purpose—associated with being involved in any “insider” group and its various roles)

• Identification with a cause, frequently associated with some victimized community

• Socialization through friends or family, or being raised in a particular environment

• Opportunity for expression of interest and steps toward involvement

• Access to the relevant group

If we want to appreciate what, if anything, is the “terrorist mind,” it is probably best thought of as the product of:

• Increased socialization into a terrorist movement and its associated engagement in illegal activity

• Focused behavior, more generally, that is increasingly relevant to the context of a terrorist movement

Let’s blame the “terrorist mind” on anything except that which is its stated inspiration: Islam and the life of the prophet.

There is one article that comes much closer to getting it right. It’s the one titled,

A Case Study:The Mythology of Martyrdom in Iraq

The jihadist arguments are: Secularism, they say, divides the world into religious and nonreligious spheres, which is antithetical to Islam as a violation of God’s sovereignty over right and wrong, permissible and forbidden; nationalism, in turn, fosters narrow identifications with language, land, and borders, not a broader unity among the community of Muslim faithful; and Shiism, the jihadists claim, gives ascendancy to a heretical creed, and Shiites are presented as the most dangerous tool against the true believers because they “appear” Islamic, but, in jihadist reality, loathe the people of the Sunna and wait for the opportunity to betray them.

Sincere devotion to Islam: Insurgent videos are replete with images of pious Muslims praying, chanting “God is great” (allahu akbar), even as they are in the midst of an operation, such as planting an IED. Suicide bombers, in particular, are almost invariably portrayed as deeply religious people. The biographies often detail at length how the “martyr” prayed incessantly, spent his time reading or memorizing the Quran, and went beyond religious obligations in voluntary expressions of devotion.

The emphasis on sincerity in devotion is important because suicide bombings can be considered martyrdom only if the individual bombers are adherent Muslims fighting out of faith in God and dying for His sake. One cannot expect to receive the rewards of martyrdom if he or she is motivated by something other than love of God and striving in His path. Perhaps more importantly, jihadi Salafis are aware that Muslim governments attempt to portray jihadists as “deviants” and misguided individuals who know little about Islam and have been brainwashed into carrying out suicide attacks. Stressing the religiosity of the bombers, therefore, is al-Qaida’s attempt to counter those claims.

Yes, and “stressing the religiosity of the bombers” is fairly easy to do given what the Koran says and given the events of Muhammad’s life.

I'm surprised the state department allowed this article to be included.

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Perhaps, rather than fear, as you suggest, their actions are a twisted way of giving meaning to their lives, even if it is in the next world. Without a reason to live (by that I mean no rewarding pleasures from life), I think that terrorism (in their mind) offers them that reward.

This is the closest I can come to getting inside their minds. While what they value is the destruction of our values, they still seem to want to give meaning to their lives. The need for relevance, is at least one part of them I can understand.

I'd say that the reason their way of giving meaning to their lives is "twisted" is precisely because it is driven by fear; a deep, metaphysical fear of existence. But I agree that terrorism carries an appeal to individualism and personal meaning. This is why I wrote in a previous post...

I think this is what is at the root of everything for a terrorist: fear. A fear induced from the earliest moments of one's conscious awareness, but also mixed with an irrational philosophy that transforms fear into rage, sprinkled with an appeal to whatever sense of individualism and self-interest remains to him (e.g., virgins in heaven). Now it isn't just fear; it's fear to a point of murderous obsession, i.e., hatred. [italics added here]

One could add martyrdom or other alleged rewards to the one I mentioned above. So, there certainly is an appeal to self-interest. It's like a chocolate-covered poison pill.

In regard to your point about the development of the pleasure/pain mechanism into evaluations of the benefit of living and dealing with others, I agree that this happens. Of course, I think that to the extent that the world I described fits what a child who goes on to become a terrorist has faced, it means that the pleasure/pain mechanism was set in reverse. Human relationships are not sources of pleasure, but sources of pain. More deeply, I suspect that such people have a deeply malevolent sense of life.

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I think Roark knows, in the context of his own life, that asking other people to decide a question like that is a mistake. He can also identify that Keating is making that particular mistake. What he doesn't know, by introspection, is how Keating can stand being in such a state. Introspectively, he knows he himself could never do that. Since introspection fails, he proceeds extrospectively by questioning Keating ("Don't you know what you want? How can you stand it, not to know? [...] How can you let others decide for you?").

I see what you're saying. I agree there's only so far introspection can take you, particularly in terms of inducing (and sustaining) the same state as someone much different than you. That's actually why I began my first response to Arnold with the reference to Ayn Rand's point about Americans' difficulty understanding communism's evil.

I agree with the conclusion as far as almost all terrorists are concerned, but I did not reach the conclusion by projection and introspection. I simply cannot imagine any circumstances, no matter how horrible, that would make me fear all of existence and not just those parts of it that threatened me.

I can't imagine that for myself either. Yet, I'm pretty sure the projection/introspection method is the one I used. Certainly the introspection did not (and could not) induce the exact same state as what a terrorist experiences, but I didn't see that as necessary to understand the principle involved. In fact, my first reaction to your original post distinguishing between this method and "finding the principle behind" someone was that the former can be used to achieve the latter. I didn't see them as necessarily separate, and was certainly using the method to identify the principle. So, I'm not sure what to make of that.

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