Gilgamesh's picture
Submitted by Gilgamesh on Sat, 2008-10-11 19:02

Hi everyone.

 I don't consider myself an Objectivist, as of yet, but I am very interested in the philosophy.

 I just have one question.

 What is the Objectivist view of emotion? If you love someone, do you love them because they make you happy, like an object, an enrich your own life, or is it ethically acceptable within Objectivist thought to love someone in a self-less manner, and to hold their life in as high a regard as your own?


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Gilgamesh's picture

I understand exactly what you mean.

 Before my recent inquiry into Objectivism, I was a Zen Buddhist. What got me thinking about the error in that line of thinking was the Buddhist attempt to rid oneself of ego, or rather, of self.

 How could I say, "I love you," and not know who the 'I' was, or not have one? It seemed unfair to the woman I said it to.

 So I'm sort of in limbo at the moment--and about 500 pages into Atlas Shrugged, haha.

I just love your question,

Leonid's picture

I just love your question, and especially the way you formulated it. However this is not one ,but two questions.
1."is it ethically acceptable within Objectivist thought to love someone in a self-less manner?"

Suppose,it is, but how one can carry out such a love? If one in order to love has to diminish or abnegate his/her self, than who is the lover? And how, for Galt sake , the other part can love a selfless person? If person has no or very litlle of self he cannot love and cannot be loved. Person without self is not a person,it is virtually not a thing.It cannot live, let alone love.Rand observed once,that to say:" I love you" one has to learn first how to say "I"

2."and to hold their life in as high a regard as your own?"
The answer to the second question-by all means YES. Emotions are automatical value-judgments (http://www.solopassion.com/nod...)and the key word here is "value". To love mean to value.If one values life of other person, he professes to love, less than his own,he has no business to talk about love.If, however ,one values his/her life less than life of the person one loves,why he/she should be loved? Such a person has no self-esteem,personality, self (look above).

Once again

Landon Erp's picture

Eli isn't an Objectivist and no Objectivist would actually say that. Lee has it right, money is a mean to greater values and a measure of what values you already have. Nothing wrong with it but it's not the be-all end all.

Eli's comment isn't something a Randroid would say, it's something that a Conservative who misquotes Rand and takes her out of context would say.

There are a lot of references to money in Objectivist lit both the fiction and non-fiction. The biggest point that comes to mind is the line from Roark's courtoom speech about how the reward cannot be your prime motive in anything you do, you have to first enjoy the doing.

Long story short I just want to be another person to reiterate that Eli doesn't speak for anyone else here nor is his statement in line with Objectivist principles.


Never mistake contempt for compassion, or power lust for ambition.


Super Hero Babylon

Oh, no, I under no

Gilgamesh's picture

Oh, no, I under no circumstances assumed a society of people with that line of thinking. After all, why be on a forum when you could just be making more money?

 That kind of talk could go on and on. I always thought of money as a means to one's values rather than a value itself.


Luke H's picture

"Why fall in love with someone when you could spend the time making even more money?"

Ah, Elijah.  Giving the term Randroid new life.

Agreed. Suffice it to say

Aaron's picture

Agreed. Suffice it to say that Elijah doesn't speak for anyone else here.


I want to reply in more

Gilgamesh's picture

I want to reply in more detail to the other responses to my query when my time permits, but I just had to reply to this one, briefly.

 I mean you no offense, but to me, that is one of the most horrible things I have ever heard.

I think love is just

Elijah's picture

I think love is just silly....like Socialism and Anglo-Catholics.

Why fall in love with someone when you could spend the time making even more money?

When you are well cashed up you can therefore meet someone younger and better looking every couple of days and simply enjoy yourself.

To put it another way...and perhaps rather cynically..."Mr Right" comes along every couple of days Laughing out loud... (if you are rich enough) Eye

So with regards to the Man/Woman you have gotten bewitched by in such an irrational way....my advice is to make yourself a couple of million dollars...show them the door...and then you can get on with having a good time and enjoying life.

If there is some disagreement with my view of the World, by all means list the 72 year old married people with a great sex life....

Oh...and welcome to solopassion.com Smiling


Welcome Lee

Kasper's picture

Ayn rand in her Lexicon explained love very well and I think succinctly.

Also see entry emotions for her thoughts on those too.


Lindsay Perigo's picture

I would say "selfless love" is a contradiction in terms, since love is the highest form of valuing. My personal thoughts on romantic love, which are heretical from an orthodox Objectivist standpoint, are here.

Welcome to SOLO! In general,

Aaron's picture

Welcome to SOLO!

In general, emotion is an automatized reaction to something based on values you've subconsciously ingrained. Ideally, emotions should therefore be inline with conscious, rational thought. However, often times they are not - due to a harmful value judgments we learned or were taught as kids that train our subconscious and can be in conflict with things we later straighten out at the conscious level. This can be - slowly, deliberately - changed by automatizing the new, rational value judgments. I'd highly recommend Objectivist psychologist Edith Packer's writings on emotion, happiness and the subconscious.

Concerning love, I would *almost* simply say yes to your "do you love them because they make you happy ... an enrich your own life". However, the extra clause "like an object" sounds to me like it may have an implicit assumption that such a reason for someone is somehow bad or shallow. I apologize if I'm overanalyzing that, but that gives me pause from just saying 'yes' and having you potentially think 'you love people like you love a car or a favorite food'. There's a huge difference in degree and types of enrichment here.

If by 'self-less' love you mean loving someone despite them being evil or not a value personally in your life, then I don't see such 'love' as rational or legitimate. E.g. 'Love your enemy' is simply bad advice, 'love your neighbor' appropriately means just a general benevolence, giving people the benefit of the doubt of being good, not really love like you may love your wife or kids or friends. Finally, I don't think it's possible for someone to really value their own life properly if they place someone else's above theirs. However, it is still possible to love someone so much and them be so important to your life that you'd be a relative wreck without them.

Your thoughts on these matters?


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