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  • Posted by Mamaemma 1 week, 4 days ago
    A child is an obligation and a joy that an Objectivist chooses. Maybe that’s why Rand was “pro-choice”.
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    • Posted by 5 days, 22 hours ago
      She was pro-choice becasue she was selfish... as a virtue even.
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      • Posted by ewv 5 days, 21 hours ago
        She was 'pro-choice' because she recognized the right of the individual to choose not to bear children either at a particular time or ever. A chosen obligation as a consequence of choosing to have children is not a duty to have children whether or not one wants to.

        "Pro choice" in general -- the rights of the individual -- is a consequence of morality based on the necessity for standards in making rational choices to live one's own life -- the virtue of selfishness.
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  • Posted by ewv 1 week, 4 days ago
    As a philosophy Objectivism emphasizes the main subjects of that field, which necessarily addresses the adult thinker with experience and who can understand abstract principles. It does not ignore children and families, though Ayn Rand did not specialize in child development and did not write about raising children.

    In Atlas Shrugged she illustrated in a flashback the early developmental stages of two of the main characters as children growing up, in the form of stylized romantic fiction reduced to essentials. It contrasts the young Dagny and James Taggert in the same household with benevolent parents, showing how the children's different choices within the same environment led to entirely different personalities and character.

    The Fountainhead contrasted the independence of college age Howard Roark with second hander Peter Keating.

    In Altas Shrugged, well-behaved children in families were mentioned as part of the life the Valley. Ayn Rand said that the purpose of the scenes in the Valley was to illustrate in fiction how the best people interact with each other. Again, that emphasis has to be on mature adults because of its philosophical purpose, but there was a minor reference to children.

    Proper raising of children and family relations are of course important in normal life, but are not a main branch of philosophy and could not be a primary emphasis in novels emphasizing the role of the mind and independence in adult lives and the course of a culture.

    On more general family life, in addition to the Taggert household Ayn Rand described the adult Rearden family, contrasting Hank Rearden with his brother and his ill-chosen wife. The Rearden family descriptions show that 'family' is not a primary, with a duty to bear an impossible burden (Hank Rearden's mistake): If you have a bad family, whether born into it or through a bad choice of marriage, get out. Romantic love between rational individuals is the basis and reason for a proper nuclear family. Obligations to and desire to associate with family members in general depends on who and what they are as individuals. Leonard Peikoff discussed this in some of his podcasts.

    In non fiction Ayn Rand wrote important articles on formation of a philosophical outlook. "Philosophy and Sense Life" is reprinted in her anthology The Romantic Manifesto

    “The Comprachicos” provides a moving analysis of how children are damaged by the influence of bad education promoted under bad standards -- in her anthology The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, later reissued as The Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution.

    She also wrote about the importance of freedom of choice in education in "Tax Credits for Education” in The Ayn Rand Letter.

    Leonard Peikoff gave lectures on education of children, reissued in book form as Teaching Johnny to Think: A Philosophy of Education Based on the Principles of Ayn Rand's Objectivism.
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    • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 4 days, 15 hours ago
      "... well-behaved children in families were mentioned as part of the life the Valley." Yes, but she had a soft spot in her heart for hoodlums, the kids who with too much energy to be corralled by a public school. You might suggest that having rational parents will create well-behaved children. My experience as a parent is that children make choices. If they were "well-behaved" when Dagny saw them, it was only because their manners were "glued on well" (as Francisco would say).
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      • Posted by ewv 4 days, 12 hours ago
        Not having patience for a public school doesn't make a child a "hoodlum", and not liking the school does not tell a child what to do; being against something doesn't tell you what to be for. He may or may not turn into a hoodlum.

        The prime example of rational parental influence not being sufficient and a child becoming what he chooses to be is the difference between Dagny and Jim Taggert growing up in the same good family.
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        • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 4 days, 1 hour ago
          I agree 100% that children make their own choices. That speaks to their having a range of rights based on their range of choice and action.

          I am not sure that you can say that Dagny came from a "good" family. Oh, I am sure that they were all right and all that... but James only absorbed and acted out the bad side of that family: the religion, the social do-gooding of the rich, the governmental entanglements "necessary" to business. (Mouch was Rearden's lobbyist.) Dagny absorbed the other side, the self-confidence of judgment, the pride in achievement, the social graces based on self-esteem, the love of machinery and for that matter household efficiency. (She could sew on a button.)

          The idea that you can "raise your child to be an Objectivist" is ludicrous. We teach by example and children choose.

          I will post here later in a different topic how I raised my daughter. You should feel free to share your experiences and outcomes as a parent.

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          • Posted by ewv 4 days ago
            The Taggert family in Atlas Shrugged had the usual aspects of traditionalism (not described in detail), but was by ordinary standards a much better than average, successful family, not something that supported or encouraged the James Taggert mentality.

            Dagny and Jim were opposite philosophical archetypes in romantic fiction, who made opposite choices under the same circumstances among the best typically available.

            But those choices were not made in an intellectual vacuum; they chose from among ideas passed on to them by the culture. In that sense Jim absorbed the worst -- and ran with it to an extreme. Each of them had to choose what to be. Jim made the choice to 'absorb' the worst and follow it to its logical conclusion, not through his own 'logic', but the logic of the nature of his premises.
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            • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 4 days ago
              I agree. As fiction, the work presented essentials. We do see the same thing in real life, though, kids who come from good or bad families and make bad or good choices. The ideal situation, of course, is good family=>good choices. But there's no promises...

              (And BTW it is Taggart, with two As. I didn't say anything at first because the typo was irrelevant, but you seem to be making the error consistently; and I know that you are a stickler for detail. (;-) )
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    • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 4 days, 15 hours ago
      You summarized that well, as always. Allow me to add that she did endorse How to Raise a Brighter Child by Joan Beck. She also endorsed the Montessori method Banesh Hoffman's The Tyranny of Testing. Those and more significantly informed my choices for raising our daughter. Ayn Rand gave a lot of thought to the problem. A passage in Atlas Shrugged about the horrors of irrational philosophy sets the scene with a mother carefully measuring formula. It seems unimportant -- except that Ayn Rand never left anything unimportant in her work.
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  • Posted by $ mshupe 1 week, 5 days ago
    I think children are mentioned little because their nature prevents them from having fully developed principles for living. Also, their survival is dependent on adults whose cognitive skills have matured. The course of humanity is not shaped by children, but is shaped by producers who behave rationally based on a coherent philosophy for living, and their tormentors whose philosophy is based on whim, an incoherent, malevolent universe.
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    • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 4 days, 15 hours ago
      I think that if you consider the biography of Gail Wynand, you will find quite a bit in there about a child who makes rational choices based on principles. Contrast Dagny and Eddie as children, and then both of them against James.
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    • Posted by $ Commander 1 week, 5 days ago
      I've begun teaching the kids. Beginning with self evident inquiry. What are you? I do this with adults too.
      The conditioned response is overwhelmingly; I'm a person, slightly less, a human. What are you simpler than that? I'm an animal / mammal. simpler........Life. A leading process. What does all life experience? Comfort / discomfort.

      This begins fundamental awareness and participation in Self and the connection to Live or Die as a value base. The kids get this far faster than adults who have to weigh through subjective learning history.

      I qualify with: Do not trust me or trust I am telling you the Truth. Think about this and experience it. I will never tell you something in which I cannot take you to the source and have the source repeat (in context). First, I put the burden of objective behavior on myself.....this is why my forehead slopes. Dealing with my developed bias' and acknowledging the behavior, and changing that behavior has been the foremost challenge of my life.

      There is no reason that the very young, 6 or 7, cannot begin to experience objective philosophy, excepting the awareness or the bias of parents.......hmmm.
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      • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 4 days, 12 hours ago
        Like you, I am a parent. In that, we are unusual here.
        "I qualify with: Do not trust me or trust I am telling you the Truth."
        Not a tack I would have taken. Trust is extremely important, however much I encouraged indpeendent thought and action. Far short of blind faith or obedience, I was always cognizant of my responsibility to be trustwortthy. But that was, perhaps, personal with me. You took a different view of the matter.

        So, if I may ask, how old are your children now? My daughter is 40. I have had plenty of opportunity to see how this plays out.
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        • Posted by $ Commander 4 days, 10 hours ago
          Hello Mike! Good to know you are well.
          The expression to not trust me, initially, is an invitation to earn it mutually.

          That being said, these "kids" mentioned above are not my biological children. My two are dead, each less than a year old. Along with this I've had many an opportunity in mentorship that verges on the step-dad role. The worst results have been one murdered and another committed suicide.
          I have 5 beautiful young women age 18 to 27 who are going to be phenomonally successful pursuing their happiness. Every few months I get a call or text on a point of altruism / capitalism perspective.
          Most recent was an apprentice in my shop, grandson of a friend. Had him on suicide watch for about 3 months in late 18 (4 of his peer group of 25 have taken their lives in the past 8 years). When I moved out of MN to WI this winter he had to seek other a call 2 weeks after he found such. He was surprised by how much he knew.....and the enthusiasm of that value has blown away a self esteem issue he's been dealing with.

          In 2008 I had a brief episode. An upwelling of sorrow / rage / bewilderment of intensity that shall never repeat. The losses.....and I made a choice: They are all mine.

          This past Sunday I had the fortune of sitting with four youngsters at the marina I joined. 17 to 24 years old. "What do you think of this present global situation?" I asked. The responses were not too varied, yet collectively involved mistrust of source of information. We spent an hour in exploration of how to possibly vet a source and validate it. Sure is not taught in contemporary early education. They were involved in making critical decisions on perception and how it affects their lives. They also ignored the little electronic chirps from their devices.

          These wonderful young people, even in the midst of dire circumstance, engage with me because I care deeply for my happiness extended to's a process. I don't know exactly how I do this. I just seem to be the process.
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          • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 4 days, 1 hour ago
            "I am sorry for your loss" is such a cliche, a mechanical response, but there is not much else that can be said.

            The other side, being "happy for your gains" is not much better.

            I am intrigued, though: personally interested in your story. Thank you for opening up and sharing it.

            So, thanks for clarifying your views on trust. It is a two-way street.
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            • Posted by $ Commander 4 days ago
              Thank you. No cliche interpreted.
              These are powerful, life changing events. Morris Massey would deem Significant Emotional SEE. Janet Hagberg would deem Power Stage Four, power by reflection.

              One of the traits that I cultivate in myself is that of first person expression. Second and third person expression distances one from any subject being insulator from....being uncomfortable or unhappy or inequity. I do not distance myself from my emotional state or the cognitive iteration of my perceptions. And at times, all to often, yet diminishing in occurrence, I find my expression in the second or third person through default of social habit.
              During this past decade I have claimed myself, vitality, enthusiasm, sorrow and joy. I share this freely, open to derision or acceptance. I have had the fortune of a multitude of tools to help make sense of this journey.

              I saw your post above regarding children not asking to be's a gift of expression regarding:

              Carpe Dium! (Fish of the day)......everything is contextual....LOL
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    • Posted by Lucky 1 week, 5 days ago
      Yes, but the question, I think, is how does an Objectivist relate to children?
      (Not, how should children behave?)
      Since as you say their survival depends on adults, what are the responsibilities of adults to their own and other children and families?

      Children and families make rare appearances in Rand's writing, non-fiction and fiction. There are clues for example in Atlas Shrugged. What I get is not very explicit, maybe from my inadequate study.
      If they are not your family, then Galt's Oath applies.
      Otherwise, my opinion is that if it is your own family then there is a contract, legal if a spouse, implied if children. The terms of the contract are binding, some of the terms may be expectations of the society (for want of a better word).
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      • Posted by ewv 5 days, 21 hours ago
        Obligation to care for children once born is 'binding' until they are adults. Remaining in a bad family is not. Spouses may divorce and others may move out at will.
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      • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 4 days, 12 hours ago
        I am not sure what you mean by the "expectations of society." I do agree that the the matter is bilateral: parent-to-child, as well as child-to-parent.

        The metaphysical fact is that children did not ask to be born. They are brought into the "contract" against their will. It is hard to understand what could be binding on them. At least, that was my understanding as a parent. The process of raising a child is in some contexts analogous to the emancipating of an inherited slave.
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        • Posted by ewv 4 days, 12 hours ago
          Children do not have all the rights of adults. A young child cannot simply decide on his own he wants leave a family to go off on his own or join another family. There would have to be good cause based on some serious dereliction of the parents and a court decision allowing it. Other family members like grandparents, cousins, etc. have an easier time of leaving, if warranted, by right.
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          • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 4 days, 1 hour ago
            Perhaps it would serve us both and us all well to think through the civil rights and civil liberties of an individual in society. For example, I believe that the right to vote should include a knowledge test. In aviation, we have a standardized test bank of like 1100 possible and they ask you like 110 drawn at random.
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            • Posted by ewv 4 days ago
              When voters can't even punch the hole in the place they want, leaving "hanging chads", some kind of legitimate basic "literacy test" is required -- for the same reason that children can't vote. Even "Here now hole" isn't enough.

              Voters should understand what they are doing and voting for. But any such test would have to be very basic, non-partisan, and not skewed with artificial academic requirements.

              Voting was supposed to be a solemn intellectual responsibility. The left's mob rule "democracy" is turning that into the opposite.

              Their idea of voting is to pack as many ignoramuses filled with resentment into a van as they can to get them to "the polls" where they are instantaneously registered and "vote" as they are told through emotional manipulation. Those who don't are not taken to the polls.

              Those tactics are why they oppose the individual responsibility to register and show a valid ID, now pushing for mass mail-in vote fraud.

              Attempts to rein in their mob mentality of Alinskyite manipulations packing the polls through emotionally herding mindless voting in accordance with what the manipulators want is now called "vote suppression". The massive emotional campaign for their version of "democracy" does not permit challenging their premises about the nature of voting.

              That theory of voting follows and is part of their more fundamental collectivist altruism that does not include individual thought and understanding, and the responsibility to use it. The anti-individualist, anti-reason mob mentality and statism naturally lead to their current notion of what "voting" should be -- intended to destroy the rights of the individual.

              That is why your idea of a legitimate civic "knowledge test" would be smeared with the connotations of the Old South racist "literacy test". Rational discussion of the false alternative is not permitted.
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          • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 4 days, 2 hours ago
            I disagree. I will say, there was one time when my daughter was about 2-1/2 when she went out sleep walking. I heard her get up and I heard her in the living room. I watched her put on her winter coat and boots and go out the door. So, I followed of course. But I did not interfere right away. We got almost a mile. She walked up to the neighborhood library we went to often. She trotted right along, those little feet... Anyway, I finally caught up with her asked her where she was going. She had no answer for that and I carried her home.

            So, no, a child cannot always just leave home. But in Ayn Rand's day many children did. A child of 8, 10, 12... who makes up their mind could do so successfully. Our society is a bit different. We have very few jobs that children can do. But, you know, a lot of adults have only a grade school education and they do quite well. I work with one or two in an engineering fabrication shop.

            Moreover, in his early days, Herbert Spencer said that chidren who work and pay taxes should vote. A child's rights are not A or non-A. Back in 1966 the song said, "You're old enough to kill, but not for votin'..." Age of consent for sex, age of consent for marriage, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco... And the free market recognizes that: car rentals are generally unavailable if you are under 25. Try being 23 and suiing for your "equal rights" to rent a car... or run for Congress... But a 16-year old can drive. Our public library made the 9th grade or age 14 the cut-off between a children's card and an adult permit. Adults had different check-out privileges (more books; stiffer fines).

            Just sayin'... A child's rights -- or anyone's -- are not a matter of exclusive disjunction. Life is a process.
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            • Posted by ewv 4 days, 1 hour ago
              Children do not have all the rights of adults by their nature as lacking ability to exercise them. They gradually acquire rights until becoming adults.
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        • Posted by Lucky 3 days, 2 hours ago
          expectations of society
          Mike, thanks for asking, my phrase was vague as mid-sentence I found I could not finish the thought. Here is a try.

          In setting a philosophical base for the attitude of a parent regarding a child, start from the word- obligation.
          These are more like Deed than a contract ( this for that). A recognition that defined behavior is expected / required. The behavior required may be specified in law, or custom, the expectations of the surrounding society.
          But what should obligations be from an Objectivist view?

          I do not see an answer in the concept of a freely entered into contract, nor from Galt's Oath. How about the parent seeing the child (even adopted) as part of the parent (for this purpose)? Objectivism tells individuals to look after themselves, use the same thinking to look after your child by considering feeding clothing, housing, and all the other aspects of life material, emotional and intellectual appropriate to the circumstances as the parent does for their own life.
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          • Posted by ewv 2 days, 20 hours ago
            Ethics is not based on obligation, which is a social concept that may or may not be used properly. When used as 'duty' it is not.

            Ethics begins with individual choices in one's own life, required because making choices is necessary to live. Ethical actions towards others is an application and derivative concept: You must also make choices regarding others, and consistency is a requirement.

            Splitting personal choice from 'ethics', regarded as equivalent to or based on obligation or duty to others, is disastrous.

            So is teaching a child, accumulated over time, that what he should do is to be accepted by him because he is told what to think and do -- leading to his still-evolving concept of 'ethics' as ultimately equated with dogmas for duty to others, and leaving him without moral guidance in personal choices as if ethic is irrelevant to his own life.
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            • Posted by Lucky 2 days, 3 hours ago
              Agree, Ethics is not based on obligation
              Obligation exists. so I revise my statement to- obligation comes from ethics.

              Parents understand and accept that they are obligated, but to do what, and with how much effort?
              That is the question I put to myself, not back when I had the responsibilities, but now as an exercise. There are a range of possible answers, since obligation comes from ethics, answers should comes from statements of the ethical principles and how they translate to obligations and actions.
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          • Posted by $ Commander 3 days, 1 hour ago
            I'll offer this perspective. The purpose of life is continuity at the most fundamental. Life continues through the use of energy to sustain the individual existence and the continuity through procreation. Progeny are The continuity of life because all life ends. As a human life form, aware, objectively, children are a choice to continue or not. The next choice in the hierarchy is how to nurture.
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            • Posted by ewv 2 days, 20 hours ago
              The purpose of each life is its own survival and flourishing, not serving the species. Whatever reasons one has for raising children, it is not properly to serve the race. Procreation is a product of evolution, without which there would be no species, not a standard for individual choice in one's own life.
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    • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 3 days, 16 hours ago
      Do you know The Girl Who Owned a City? You can find it in several editions.

      My review on my blog here:
      "This book contrasts well against Lord of the Flies and other presentations. What happens to children without adults is an artificial problem, not much different than a book about robots or aliens. With science fiction and related genres, the author can create a new test environment to explore questions of human nature. The author engages the reader to ask and answer wider questions about good and evil. In this book, human nature is essentially a potential. (These are, after all, children whose natures are not set by habit.) These people are good or bad according to the choices they make."
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  • Posted by Lucky 1 week, 6 days ago
    There are children in Atlas Shrugged in the Gulch.
    So, you could argue that family relations and children are not properly covered, but ignored - no.
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    • Posted by ewv 5 days, 21 hours ago
      Children were not arguably improperly covered in the novel. Many things were omitted or not emphasized in the plot because they were not required for the purpose of the novel.
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    • Posted by edweaver 1 week, 6 days ago
      Family relationships are covered well. Children not directly but I think it's obvious they are taught to live by objectivist principals.
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      • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 4 days, 12 hours ago
        What principles are those? (I admit that my question is rhetorical. I mean, as a parent,: (1What did you define as the principles of Objectivism? and (2) How did you apply them to raising your children? and (3) How did you teach your children to live by them?

        (I will deliver my answers later...)
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        • Posted by ewv 4 days, 12 hours ago
          The parent has to live the principles convey the meaning gradually. Teaching abstract philosophy to young children is not possible. But more can be done with increasing age.
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          • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 4 days, 1 hour ago
            Perhaps I do not understand what you mean by "abstract philosophy." If you mean dissecting the errors in Immanuel Kant, then, no. If you mean an abstraction as the unity of two or more concepts, then yes, you can teach abstract philosophy to a child who is young enough to speak.
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            • Posted by ewv 4 days ago
              Everyone abstracts to form the simplest first level concepts. Abstract principles require a hierarchy that children do not yet have even when able to speak. The depth of the hierarchy grows over time and you can't get ahead of that or the child winds up with meaningless floating abstractions and dogmas.
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              • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 3 days, 15 hours ago
                "Abstract principles require a hierarchy that children do not yet have even when able to speak." I insist that they do. Perhaps my problem is that I do not understand what you mean. Can you give me an example?

                I will give you one. "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." We do not violate the rights of other people because we would not like it if it happened to us. Easy at age 5. But when she was 15, I said, "The difference between us is that I am an egoist and you are an egoTist. As an egoist, I put my self-interest above the interests of other people. (She nodded with approval.) But as an egoTist you don't even recognize that other people have interests!" She eventually grew out of her Nietzschean phase.

                One tiime I was standing in front of the church we attended (story there, but not relevant now) and the minister was wringing his hands over three teens who were in trouble though they had been raised in his church and had been good kids all along. Suddenly, they were making bad choices and getting in trouble. See above.

                You cannot raise children to be what you want. I believe that is one aspect of the fallacy of Objectivism as a religion.
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                • Posted by ewv 2 days, 21 hours ago
                  Principles require abstractions from abstractions in a hierarchy. The depth of the hierarchy grows over time. Principles taught to children begin in simple terms, then become wider and more complex over time, just like the development of abstract concepts.

                  When a child is first learning to speak he is only beginning concepts and cannot yet understand sentences let alone abstract principles. The simplest first level concept or proper noun requires abstraction -- selective focus -- but it is very elementary. Then comes simple abstractions like attributes and actions, but that is only the base of the hierarchy required for more abstract concepts and principles such as personal ethics.
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                  • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 2 days, 20 hours ago
                    I know what it says in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. Apparently, like Ayn Rand, you never actually raised a child. They have an impressive mentality And it starts earlier than she guessed. The passage in ITOE about a child learning which blob of color is Mother ignores the fact that the child has heard the mother's voice for nine months before being born. It immediately associates the voice with the blob of color.

                    The same conceptual insights that are touted in David Harriman's The Logical Leap occur in young children as they explore their universe. It is not necessarily as Ayn Rand described it. Chair+chair+table = furniutre. Mom takes away the crayon: "Don't mark up the furniture." The kid may wonder if the door is furniture but is pretty clear on the fact that if the dining room table is furniture, then dining room chairs, the kitchen table, and the kitchen chairs are as well. It's a no-brainer as far as I could tell from watching my daughter grow up. Maybe your kid was different.

                    In fact, I think that all children are individuals and generalities about how they learn have not been tested. I believe that ranges must exist along several axes. But it's not my field of study. I know one kid. She was not Ayn Rand.
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                    • Posted by ewv 2 days, 18 hours ago
                      Ayn Rand's Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology does not say what you wrote. She did not discuss or guess when children's mental growth begins, did not diminish children's mental ability, did not say that a "child learns which blob of color is Mother" ignoring "mother's voice", did not say "Chair+chair+table = furniutre", and did not say that children can't understand what it means to not draw on the furniture with crayons.

                      The book is about the nature of concept formation, what is required to integrate and define them, and their cognitive purpose. She distinguished between the optional chronological order of forming concepts versus their logical hierarchy in a body of knowledge.

                      That hierarchy is based on logical dependencies and requires years of experience to develop for any individual. Lower level concepts are automatic or near automatic. Higher level abstractions from abstractions are not.

                      Young children do not have the same level of conceptual understanding or ability to think in abstractions as older children, let alone normal adults. Even the level achieved by adults varies enormously, depending on what methods they use or don't use, their ability, and their degree of dedicated intellectual effort.

                      Dave Harriman's book The Logical Leap was about the crucial concepts in the advancement of breakthroughs in classical physics and the logical methods required by the handful of geniuses who uniquely developed them over centuries. Children do not do that. The vast majority of adults do not do that.

                      That does not mean that young children do not quickly make enormous mental progress absorbing large amounts of material in the development of their own level of knowledge starting from nothing. How far they get and how long it takes depends on their own ability, motivation and education.

                      The Van Damme Academy private school is an example of exceptional education in children's conceptual development which emphasizes the logical dependencies of concepts in a hierarchy.

                      Some adults are very successful in developing their conceptual knowledge and others are not. Ayn Rand emphasized in the chapter "Abstractions from Abstractions" in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology:

                      "Above the first-level abstractions of perceptual concretes, most people hold concepts as loose approximations, without firm definitions, clear meanings or specific referents; and the greater a concept's distance from the perceptual level, the vaguer its content. Starting from the mental habit of learning words without grasping their meanings, people find it impossible to grasp higher abstractions, and their conceptual development consists of condensing fog into fog into thicker fog -- until the hierarchical structure of concepts breaks down in their minds, losing all ties to reality; and, as they lose the capacity to understand, their education becomes a process of memorizing and imitating. This process is encouraged and, at times, demanded by many modern teachers who purvey snatches of random, out-of-context information in undefined, unintelligible, contradictory terms.

                      "The result is a mentality that treats the first-level abstractions, the concepts of physical existents, as if they were percepts, and is unable to rise much further, unable to integrate new knowledge or to identify its own experience — a mentality that has not discovered the process of conceptualization in conscious terms, has not learned to adopt it as an active, continuous, self-initiated policy, and is left arrested on a concrete-bound level..."

                      She elaborated in her discussion of the "anti-conceptual mentality" in her essay "The Missing Link” in Philosophy: Who Needs It.

                      The nature of the rational conceptual hierarchy is described primarily in the chapters "Abstractions from Abstractions" and "Concepts of Consciousness" in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology.
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                      • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 2 days, 15 hours ago
                        You are right and I was wrong. I have been through ITOE often and I thought that I knew it better than I actually do.

                        These are the passages that concerned me. I have used ITOE often as a foundation for my work as a techncial writer and technical trainer. My criticism here is only specifically that Ayn Rand relied on introspection when writing about what happens in a child's mind. I believe that her experiences are not universal. Based on my experience, both introspective and as a parent observing a child, I believe that concept formation can begin severally and can proceed severally and differently from them. It cannot be just any old thing. But like eye color and voice timbre, what can happen in the brain and what can happen in the mind, are different for different people, and those diversities of experience and self-experience are what makes us individuals. ITOE explains the fundamentals of knowledge, knowledge acquisition, and knowledge formation.

                        2. Concept Formation

                        “If a child considers a match, a pencil and a stick he observes that length is the attribute they have in common, but their specific lengths differ." [I am not going to follow through right now. However, I will say that that would never occur to me in a million years, not at my age, and surely not when I was age 2 or 3. Length is what you measure with a ruler. Everything has some length. A ruler tells you what that length is. Most of my first concepts were functional.]

                        “The child does not think in such words (he has, as yet, no knowledge of words), but that is the nature of the process which his mind performs wordlessly."

                        “The same principle directs the process of forming concepts of entities—for instance, the concept “table.” The child’s mind isolates two or more tables from other objects, by focusing on their distinctive characteristic: their shape. He observes that their shapes vary, but have one characteristic in common: a flat, level surface and support(s). He forms the concept “table” by retaining their characteristic and omitting al particular measurements., not only the measurement of shape, but of all other characteristics of tables (many of which he is not aware at the time.)”

                        “The first words a child learns are words denoting visual objects, and he retains his first concepts visually. Observe that the visual form he gives to them is reduced to those essentials which distinguish the particular kind of entities from all others…”

                        “Tables, for instance, are first differentiated from chairs, beds, and other objects by means of the characteristic of shape, which is is an attribute possessed by all the objects involved.”

                        3. Abstraction from Abstractions

                        The first stages of integrating concepts into wider concepts are fairly simple, because they still refer to perceptual concretes. For instance, man observes that the objects which he identified by the concepts “table,” “chair,” “bed,” “cabinet,” etc. have certain similarities, but are different from the objects he has identified as “door,” “window,” “picture,” “drapes”—and he integrates the former into the wider concept “furniture.”

                        5. Definitions

                        “On the pre-verbal level of awareness, when a child first learns to differentiate men from the rest of his perceptual field, he observes the distinguishing characteristics, which, if translated into words, would amount to a definition such as: “A thing that moves and makes sounds.” Within the context of his awareness, this is a valid definition: man, in fact, does move and make sounds, and this distinguishes him from the inanimate objects around him.”
                        “When the child observes the existence of cats, dogs, and automobiles, his definition ceases to be valid; it is still true that man moves and makes sounds, but these characteristics do not distinguish him from other entities in the field of the child’s awareness. A child’s (wordless) definition then changes to some equivalent of “A living thing that walks on two legs and has no fur,” with the characteristic of “moving and making sounds” remaining implicit, but no longer defining.”
                        “When the child learns to speak and the field of his awareness expands still further, his definition of man expands accordingly. It becomes something like: ‘A living being that speaks and does things no other living beings can do.’ “
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              • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 3 days, 15 hours ago
                I believe from experience that children can and do integrate what they learn. Contradictions (hypocrisies) will be identified. Virtues will be reinforced.

                I am sure that you do not intend that when the family is sitting in the living room watching the evening news and the President announces tariffs, that Mom and Dad cannot criticize him in front of the children until the kiddos have completed their education in metaphysics.

                Leonard Peikoff warns against the error of monism, the idea that you can derive all of Objectivism logically from A is A. Knowledge of reality is and must be integrated.

                If you are consistent over time, your children will understand the examples you set in terms of the philosophy you espouse. If your explanation is too complicated at the moment, you can explain it better if they ask. Otherwise, at some other point, some similar example will trigger the memory of the earlier lesson.

                I believe that the most important lessons are not about metaphysics, but about personal responsibility. Ethics is the basic lesson. Children need to understand first that actions have consequences. I got tired of cleaning up my daughter's room. Sure, we did it together and all that, but at some level, it was always an adult guiding the actions. We're talking like four years old. So, I told her that she never has to clean her room again. She was pretty happy to be free of the chore. It was not three days later, she was crying because she couldn't walk in her room without hurting her feet on a Lego or something. She could not clean it all up. But she could pick up enough to make a path from the door to her bed. And she could put it wherever she wanted it to go. Step 1. In a few days, it was spotless. She's actually fastidious. Her favorite household appliance is the wastebasket.
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                • Posted by ewv 2 days, 21 hours ago
                  Criticizing a politician on TV in front of children does not require metaphysics for anyone. It does require some level of understanding of what politics is. Criticizing Trump for tariffs to a child who doesn't know what a tariff is or what the role of the president is results in no more than "Trump tariff bad" as a meaningless slogan.

                  If he happens to overhear it, it may or may not matter. If he is puzzled you can try to explain in very simple terms such as it's like taking a toy, at whatever level he can grasp depending on the state of his mental development. But that doesn't give him the concept 'tariff', which is a much more advanced subdivision and cross classification involving 'theft'.

                  The basic principles of metaphysics are very abstract and have to come much later in education.

                  None of this has anything to do with attempting to deduce Objectivism from 'axioms', which can't be done by anyone, let alone taught to children.
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          • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 4 days, 1 hour ago
            I agree that it was easier to melt sulfur on the stove and pour it over a Lincoln cent than to explain the theories of all that -- even if I understood them well enough myself. So, my daughter got a lot of science experiments and not much science theory. That said, though, children have an amazing capacity for learning and understanding that adults often do not appreciate. I delivered a demonstration to my daughter's kindergarten class on electricity and magnetism with balllons and magnets and said repeatedly that gravity is lot like that, too. That we fall down being attracted to the Earth. And with a needle on a string circling a magnet, I said that is like the Earth going around the Sun or the Moon going around the Earth. The adults were puzzled. The kids were not.

            I did write this:
            Hey, diddle, diddle
            The Excluded Middle
            means that A cannot be non-A.
            It's either-or and neither-nor;
            and A is always A.

            ( I don't think it ever sank in on that level. On another level though, she was always an "A or non-A" kid, Never a middle ground with her...)

            Hard to say. I know one kid well. I am not a teacher. And I don't know any teacher who unxderstood Objectivist epistemology. So, I'm in the dark on that.
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  • Posted by Aurum79 1 day, 5 hours ago
    Ms Rand gave us some clues regarding how to build a proper person. IIRC, Hank Rearden started in the mines when he was 15 (!), and has apparently suffered verbal abuse from his mother for all of his life. Difficulty in life does make one strong.
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    • Posted by ewv 11 hours, 47 minutes ago
      Hank Rearden's continued toleration of his family's moral abuse emphasized the terrible error of his accepting a duty to serve them.

      Flashbacks characterized Nat Taggart as having a rough background, including as an adult railroad owner threatening and physically fighting. Dagny and Francisco sneaked off to take on low level jobs on the railroad anonymously (walking both ways uphill?). Gail Wynand in The Fountainhead became a criminal gang leader at the age of twelve after winning a knife fight against four gang members at once. He held unsavory mostly part time jobs on the street, stole food and looted books from libraries until he reformed himself to become successful.

      None of it is a recommendation of "how to build a proper person" with "difficulty" to "make one strong". It was all exaggerated romantic fiction alluding to those In the early twentieth century and before who had become successes starting from nothing, out on their own at a very early age. It emphasized the choice for individual initiative ultimately leading to success.

      Ayn Rand advocated civilized life of a rational individual, with a big emphasis on rational education for children, not child labor in a mine wasting his early developmental years.
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  • Posted by $ Commander 1 week, 5 days ago
    This is a great question. Do you have any insights as to how to enjoin kids to begin an enthusiastic participation in this?

    I'll suggest this: Awareness, participation, insight and commitment as a starting process.
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