Archive for June, 2012

Objectivist Blog Carnival

by Jason Stotts

Welcome to the June 21, 2012 edition of Objectivist Round Up!

This is the last time Erosophia will host as the Carnival as we know it is ending.  I want to thank Jenn for her efforts with it over the years and to all of my fellow contributors and hosters who have made it so successful.  For this week’s quote, I want to return to the essence of Objectivism. When asked one time to explain Objectivism “while standing on one foot”, Ayn Rand said that Objectivism is:

1. Metaphysics: Objective Reality
2. Epistemology: Reason
3. Ethics: Self-Interest
4. Politics: Capitalism

Without further ado, enjoy this week’s Carnival!

Darius Cooper presents The French Physiocrats on Natural Order posted at Practice Good Theory, saying, “I present a brief summary of the French Physiocrats”

Rational Jenn presents On Spanking and Limit-Setting and Keeping Kids Out of Traffic Already posted at Rational Jenn, saying, “This is my response to some recent internet discussions about spanking children.”

Diana Hsieh presents NoodleCast #141: Q&A Radio Podcast: Objectivity, Friendships, Child Labor, and More posted at Philosophy in Action, saying, “In Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg and I discussed objectively assessing yourself, friendships with subordinates at work, keeping up with the news, child labor laws, and more.”

Paul Hsieh presents The Nanny State And Universal Health Care posted at We Stand FIRM, saying, “My latest Forbes OpEd was on “The Dangerous Synergy Between The Nanny State And Universal Health Care”.”

Mike Zemack presents The Social Security Injustice posted at Principled Perspectives.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of objectivist round up using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.


by Jason Stotts

1. Republican Party Parodies Itself.

In what seems like it could only be a cruel parody of the Republican party, a representative in Michigan is being censured for daring to use the word “vagina” in a debate about…abortion.  You know, a medical procedure that involves a woman’s pudenda, unmentionables, and shameful parts.  Or, for those of us who don’t hate the body, a woman’s vulva, vagina, and uterus.  Frankly, if you can’t say the word vagina in legislative bodies, then you certainly shouldn’t be legislating about abortion.

2. Woman wins $900,000 for getting herpes.

Personally, I think that if you know you have an infectious disease, you do not disclose this fact to a sexual partner, and you do not even take the necessary steps to protect their welfare, then you should be liable for criminal charges of assault.

3. Ayn Rand’s Growing Popularity in India.  Apparently Ayn Rand is still very popular in India, which ranks second only to the US in interest in her.

Until 2007, Indians conducted more Google searches for the Russian-American novelist than residents of any other country, and in recent years have ceded the top spot only to Americans…

4. The Evolution of the Penis.

There are so many different kinds of penises in the world and a great variety of features and differences.  There’s not much else to say about this article, but I found it absolutely fascinating.

Not surprisingly, when physicians study penises, we tend to focus on the human variety. But our world is abristle with phalluses and has been for at least half a billion years. Today and every day since at least the early Paleozoic era, in meadows, oceans, streams and the air, many trillions of erections preceded trillions of copulations, which preceded trillions of ejaculations. Some erections sprouted readily and penetrated easily. Others flickered to life and abruptly terminated. Some were measurable in yards. Others were microscopic. Some were stiffened by blood; others by a similar fluid called hemolymph; others by skeletal supports made of cartilage or bone. Some erections culminated in mere seconds; others lasted hours.

It wasn’t always this way…

5. German Court Rules Non-Medical Circumcision of Minors Illegal.

I heartily support this decision.  There are very few circumstances where circumcision is medically warranted and these should remain permissible.  But the religious hatred of the body and their desire to destroy the body’s capacity for pleasure should not be inflicted on minors.  If adults want to mutilate their bodies, then that is their right, but they do not have the right to do it to minors.

BERLIN, Germany — The circumcision of minors for religious reasons should be considered a physical assault, according a district court ruling in the German city of Cologne.

Judges said that the procedure should be performed only when it’s medically necessary,the Financial Times Deutschland reported.

Otherwise, neither the parents’ rights nor the right to religious freedom can justify what constitutes bodily harm, the verdict states.



by Jason Stotts

This is Erosophia’s 725th post.  Can you believe it?  I know I can’t.  When I first started blogging, I had no idea it would become a big part of my life.  It’s funny how what seems like a small decision can turn out to be momentous looking back.

Anyway, this post isn’t about reminiscing, it’s a plea for money plain and simple.  Erosophia isn’t free for me, it takes time and money.  In fact, if it weren’t for one generous reader Erosophia would operate in the red.  Not that you haven’t, dear readers, come through sometimes like helping me get to ATLOSCon last year, but now I need your help again.

My laptop, the machine through which I birth Erosophia, is old.  And not just a little old, I got it early summer of 2007, so it’s a little over 5 years old now!  It’s not going to be around much longer and I need to get a new computer to be able to continue to write.  I want to get a new MacBook Pro (I would also accept used MacBooks that are still in good shape).  Not even a fancy one, just the basic model is fine with me.  But I need to raise money to do it.  That’s where you come in.

I’m asking you, if you’ve enjoyed Erosophia over the past 7 years, if my writings have helped your thinking about sexual issues, if they have saved your relationship, or just entertained you, please donate to help keep Erosophia going.  You can send me money via PayPal or Amazon Payments to Jason(at), you can buy me an Amazon Gift Card, you can send me a check, hell you can even buy it for me from my Amazon Wishlist.  You can also just buy the stuff you would usually buy elsewhere through Amazon using this LINK and Amazon will send me referral fees to help keep Erosophia going (that wouldn’t even cost you a dime!). If my computer dies before I can raise some money to get a new one, Erosophia will go silent until I do eventually get one. However, I believe in you dear readers and together we can keep Erosophia going.

Update: Total Donations

Day 0 (6/15) – $0

Day 1 – $0

Day 2 – $0

Day 3 – $0

Day 4 – $0

Day 5 (6/20)  – $0

Day 6 – $0

Day 7 – $100 (Thanks JB!)

Day 8 – $100

Day 9 – $100

Day 10 (6/25) – $100

Day 11 – $100

Day 12 – $100

On Purpose

by Jason Stotts

It’s interesting to me that one’s purpose in life is such an integral part of it, but for many people is completely opaque to them. It forms the core of who we are and how we live. It structures our life and gives us focus. Yet, there is really little to no guidance about how to pick a purpose in your life, which is problematic considering how important it is for ethics.

The standard way of thinking about your purpose in life is to think about what you are passionate about abstractly and then to try to find some way to match that up with a job in the real world. This works fine for many people, but for some of us it is less than instructive. What if the things I would want to do aren’t translatable into jobs?

Moreover, and more problematically, what if I’m not sure what I want to do with my life? What if there is no one thing that pulls me irresistibly to it? What if there are many things I enjoy and they don’t add up into a career? How do I go about creating a valuable and rewarding purpose that I can translate into a job? Let’s see if we can’t make some headway on this issue.

This issue is actually made all the more poignant for me because I am suffering under it. I don’t have a purpose in life right now. I mean I have some vague purposes like living well and seeking knowledge and having good meaningful relationships with good people. It’s not like my life is a mess. But my career hasn’t begun yet. I’m still working at a job and it’s frustrating for me to know that I am very intelligent, hard-working, and motivated, but yet I don’t know how to focus my attention and get a real career off the ground. A large part of this is due to me not understanding the issue of passion.

In order to help me with this issue, my wife found a couple of articles from this blog Study Hacks that make an interesting case that I may have been going about this entire process incorrectly. I’ve taken quotes from two different articles “Beyond Passion: The Science of Loving What You Do” and “Are Passions Serendipitously Discovered or Painstakingly Constructed?” and I’m going to link it up in a way that’s slightly different than the author does (go read the originals first though). Also, I hope the original author doesn’t mind my light editing to abstract the general principles from the context of the article.

From “Beyond Passion: The Science of Loving What You Do.”

1. Mastering a rare and valuable skill is the key to generating a remarkable life — much more important than following your “passions” or matching your career (or academic major) to your personality.

2. The introspection principle [matching your work to personality traits and interests is the key to finding a job you love] elevates [erroneously] the act of self-reflection to be the most important for making big life decisions.

3. To be happy, your work must fulfill three universal psychological needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness.
• Autonomy refers to control over how you fill your time…if you have a high degree of autonomy, then “you endorse [your] actions at the highest level of reflection.”
• Competence refers to mastering unambiguously useful things.
• Relatedness refers to a feeling of connection to others.

4. [Pick a subject or career and] strive to become excellent at it…your love of the subject will grow with your sense of autonomy and competence.

5. Autonomy, competence, and relatedness are the key to loving what you do. So how do you get them?
1. Master a skill that is rare and valuable.
2. Cash in the career capital this generates for the right rewards.

From “Are Passions Serendipitously Discovered or Painstakingly Constructed?”

1. Passion: The feeling that arises from have mastered a skill that earns you recognition and rewards. [Also thinking this skill is important?]

2. [The belief that in the course of your regular life you will develop passions for various pursuits] posits that passions exist a priori of any serious engagement with a pursuit; [as though] they’re some mysterious Platonic form waiting for you to discover. This is a dangerous fiction.

3. Passion is the feeling generated by mastery. I submit that this concept is liberating. It frees you from obsession over whether you are doing the “right” thing with your life. A mastery-centric view of passion says that aligning your life with passions is a good thing, but almost any superficial interest can be transformed into a passion with hard work, so there’s no reason to sweat choices such as an academic major or you first post-college career. Your real focus should be on the long road of becoming so good they can’t ignore you.

4. The mastery-centric view denies that a priori passions exist. There’s probably no new job that would immediately grant [a person] the feeling of passion he seeks. That can only come from mastery.

Now that we have some of the material I want to work with, let’s start connecting the dots together and see if we can’t find a better way to understand purpose.

If your passion is not some innate thing that you just have, and framing it this way makes it sound less plausible in the first place (tabula rasa anyone?), and is, rather, a cultivated emotion that is a response to mastering a particular skill, then it seems a quite bit easier to achieve passion for your purpose, as passion stops being some mystical emotion that one cannot act to bring about and becomes something that one could work to achieve. That is, if you want to be passionate about something, you need to become great at it. If this is true, it means that we’ve always been taught to do it backwards, that the cause and effect have been reversed.

Although I’m not sure I’ve completely bought into the idea yet, I certainly think that it solves a long-standing question for me in what seems to be a very reasonable way. It also helps me to see that, in some ways, it doesn’t matter what I pick as I’ll develop a passion for it.

On the other hand, in my situation it doesn’t exactly provide concrete advice. I know that my passion is to keep working with ideas and to try to clarify different issues in human life through the application of reason and intelligence: basically, I want to actually do philosophy. But it’s hard to get people to pay you for ideas, when most people in the culture don’t realize the dire importance of ideas, that ideas move their lives and the world itself. While I think I’ve mastered many of the ideas in sexual ethics, and created a passion for it in my life, it’s still not clear how to monetize this and make a living from it.

I know that if I had to pick a single word that I would like to describe me, I would pick the word “philosopher.” I would be proud to earn that title and I think that I have new and good ideas. So, maybe I should go back into academia and get my doctorate and teach and write in philosophy. But, at the same time, I want to do philosophy as applied to life and not engage in the conundrums of philosophy apart from this. So, I’m not sure if I would be happy there. Certainly, however, I would be much happier there than I am in my current position, so even if it’s not ideal, it would be much better. If I could get my book done quickly and its well received, perhaps I could become a “public intellectual,” writer, and speaker, which I would really enjoy. But that’s a pretty open goal with a lot of variables that would have to fall in place that I wouldn’t be able to directly control, so that’s not ideal.

So, after all, perhaps I haven’t solved my practical problem. But at least I’ve made it easier and have a better grasp of how to solve it, instead of looking for some mystical purpose from nowhere.

Question: Marriage without Attraction

by Jason Stotts

Here’s an interesting question submitted by a reader recently:

Can you base a decision on marriage without sexual attraction and only because you like the persons values and character and for the things he has done for you? Would this marriage last ?

I think the answer is obvious: sure, you could, but the marriage would be doomed from the start.  The person you’re describing is a really good friend.  A necessary part of marriage is sexual attraction and your sexual relationship.  Without these things, you’re only really close friends.

Of course, there is such a thing as a “companionate marriage,” where two people cohabitate, share resources, maybe even have children, but who either don’t love each other or who aren’t sexually attracted to each other.  This can be a fine choice in certain circumstances, but it’s not an ideal marriage.

If we’re talking about normal cases here, then I think deciding to marry someone you’re not attracted to is a terrible idea.