The Objectivist:1966-1971 (Volumes 5-10)

This is a compilation of all the articles written for The Objectivist magazine between the years of 1966 and 1971.

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The Objectivist:1966-1971 (Volumes 5-10)

Table of contents :
January 1966
FEBRUARY
March
April
May
June
July
INTRODUCTION TO OBJECTIVIST EPISTEMOLOGY
August
September
October
November
December
January 1967
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
January 1968
February
March
April
May 1968
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
January 1969
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
January 1970
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
January 1971
The anti-industrial revolution
February
The anti-industrial revolution Part 2
March
April
May
June
July
August
September

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ALTRUISM AS APPEASEMENT By Ayn Rand A few years ago, on the occasion of giving a lecture at M.LT., I met a young student who was earnes~ly, intelligently concerned with opposing the ·trend to collectivism. I asked him his views on why so many of today's young intellectuals were becoming "liberals.'" He could not give me a full answer. But a few weeks later, he wrote me a remarkable letter'. He explained that he had given a great deal of thought to my question and had reached certain conclusions . The majority of college students, he wrote, do not choose to think; they accept the status quo, conform to the prescribed code of values and evade the responsibility of independent thought. "In adopting this attitude, they are encouraged by teachers who inspire imitation, rather than creation." But there are a few who are not willing to renounce their rational faculty. "They are the intellectuals-and they are the outsiders. Their willingness to think makes them shine forth as a threat to the stagnant security of the levelers in which they are immersed. They are teased and rejected by their schoolmates . An immense amount of faith in oneself and a rational philosophical basis are required to set oneself against all that society has ever taught. .. . The man who preaches individual integrity, pride and self-esteem is today virtually nonexistent. Far more common is the man who, driven by the young adult's driving need for acceptance, , has compromised. And here is the key-[the result of] the compromise is the liberal. "The man who sets nimself against society by seeking to be rational is almost certain to succumb to the extent of accepting a strong guilt complex. He is declared 'guilty' by his rejection of the omnipresent 'equality in mediocrity' doctrine of today .. .. So the intellectual, . to atone for a false guilt, becomes today'S liberal. He proclaims loudly the brotherhood of all men. He seeks to serve his escapist brothers by guaranteeing them their desire for social security. He sanctions their mediocrity, he works for their welfare, above all he essentially seeks their approval- to atone for the guilt that they have thrust upon him in the guise of an absolute moral system which is not open to question." This young man deserves credit for an extraordinary psychological perceptiveness. But the situation he describes is not new; it is as old as altruism; nor is it confined to "liberals." Shortly after receiving that letter, I met a distinguished historian, a man of great intellect and scholarship, an advocate of capitalism, who was then in his late seventies. I had been puzzled by the fact that in his many works, the rigorous logic of his arguments was inexplicably contradicted and undercut by his acceptance of "the common good" as the criterion of JANUARY 1966

psychology of such a man, but it is hard to tell whether it led to or resulted from his surrender. In either case his basic motivation is different and, in a certain sen e, worse. Basically, a social metaphysician is motivated by the desire to escape the responsibility of independent thought and he surrenders the mind he is afraid to use preferring to follow the judgments of others. But ·an intellectual appeaser surrenders morality, the realm of values in order to be permitted to use his mind. The de'gree of self-abasement is greater the implicit view of values- as irrelevant to the mindis disastrous; the implicit view of the mind-as functioning by permission of the mindless-is unspeakable. (Nor does the appeaser often care to speak about it.) There are as many variants of the consequences as there are men who commit this particular type of moral treason. But certain scars of psychological deformity can be observed in most of them, as their common symptoms. Humanitarian love is what the altruist-appeaser never achieves. Instead his salient characteristic is a mixture of bitter contempt and intense, profound hatred for mankind, a hatred impervious to reason. Re regards men as evil by nature he complains about their congenital stupidity, mediocrity depravity-yet slams his mind ferociously shut to any argument that challenges his estimate. His view of the people at large is a nightmare image-the image of a mindless brute endowed with some inexplicably omnipotent power-and 11e lives in terror of that image, yet resi ts any attempt to revise it. If questioned, be can give no grounds for .his view. Intellectually, he admits that the average man is not a murderous brute ready to attack him at any moment; emotionally he keeps feeling the brute's presence behind every corner. An accomplished young scientist once told me that he was not afraid of gangsters, but waiters and gas-station attendants filled him with terror, even though he could not say what it was he expected them to do to him. An elderly, extremely successful businessman told me that he divided people into three classes according to their intelligence: the above average the average and the below average· he ilid not mind the fir t two classes, but those of below average intelligence th rew him into uncontroUable panic. He had spent his life expecting a bloody uprising of brute who would seize, loot wreck and slaughter everything in sight; no, he was not a "conservative '; he was a "liberal:' There is an element of truth in that image of the brute: not factual truth, but psychological truth, not about people at large, but about the man who fears them. The brute is the frozen embodiment of mankind as projected by the emotions of an adolescent appeaser. The brute's omnipotent power to perpetrate some unimaginable horror is merely an adult's rationalization; physical violence is not what he fears. But his terror is real: a monster that had the power to make him surrender his mind is, indeed, a terrifying evil. And the deepest, the unconfessed source of his

morality-and I asked him his reasons. "Oh, one must say that to the masses," he answered, "otherwise, they won"t accept capitalism." Between these two extremes of age-from college years to the culmination of a lifetime's struggle-lies a silent psychological horror story. It is the story of men who spend their lives apologizing for their own intelligence. The following pattern does not enmesh all men of superior mental endowment; some manage to escape it; but, in our anti-rational culture, it strangles too many of them. By the time he reaches college, a bright, sensiti~e, precociously observant youth has acquired the sense of being trapped in a nightmare universe where he is resented, not for his flaws, but for his greatest attribute: his intelligence. It is merely a sense, not a firm conviction; no teen-ager can draw such a conclusion with certainty nor fully believe. so enormous an evil. He senses only that he is "different," in some way whIch he cannot define-that he does not get along with people, for some reason which he cannot name-that he wants to understand things and issues, big issues, about which no one else seems to care. His first year in college is, usually, his psychological killer. He had expected college to be a citadel of the intellect where he would find answers, knowledge, meaning and, above all, some companions to share his interest in iQeas. He finds none of it. One or two teachers may live up to his hope (though they are growing rarer year by year). ~ut. as to intellectual companionship, he finds the same gang he had met m kmdergarten, in playgrounds and in vacant lots: a leering, screeching, aggressively mindless gang, playing the same games, with a latinized jargon replacing the mud pies and baseball bats. There are many wrong decisions he can make at this crossroads; but the deadliest-psychologically, intellectually and morally-is the attempt to join the gang at the price of selling his soul to uninterested buyers. It is an attempt to apologize for his intellectual concerns and to escape from the loneliness of a thinker by professing that his thinking is dedicated to some social-altruistic goal. It is an attempt that amounts to the wordless equivalent of the plea: "I'm not an outsider! T'm your friend! Please forgive me for using my mind-I'm using it only in order to serve you!" Whatever remnants of personal value he may preserve after a deal of that kind, self-esteem is not one of them. Such decisions are seldom, if ever, made consciously. They are made gradually, by subconscious emotional motivation a?d s~m~-cons~ious rationalization. Altruism offers an arsenal of such rahonahzahons: if an unformed adolescent can tell himself that his cowardice is humanitarian love that his subservience is unselfishness, that his moral treason is spiritual 'nobility, he is hooked. By the time he is old enough to know bett.er, the erosion of his self-esteem is such that he dares not face or re-exarmne the issue. Some degree of social metaphysics is almost always involved in the THE OBJECTIVIST

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terror lies in the fact that the surrender was not demanded or extortedthat the monster was the victim's own creation. This is the reason why the appeaser has a vested interest in maintaining his belief in the brute's existence: even a life of terror, with the excuse that he could not help it, is preferable to facing the full enormity of the fact that he was not robbed of self-esteem, but threw it away-and that his chronic sense of guilt does not come from the spurious sin of possessing intelligence, but from the actual crime of having betrayed it. A corollary symptom, in most intellectual appeasers, is the "elite'" premise-the d9gmatic, unshakeable belief that "the masses don't think," that men are impervious to reason, that thinking is the exclusive prerogative of a small, "chosen" minority. In the field of politics, this leads the more aggressive type of appeasers, the "liberals," to the belief in rule by physical force, to the doctrine that people are unfit for freedom and should be ruled-"for their own good"by a dictatorship of the "elite." Hence such "liberals' " craving for governmental recognition, and their extreme susceptibility to bribes by any strong-arm government, foreign or domestic, in the form of minor jobs, loud titles, official honors or simply dinner invitations. Hence such "liberals'" tolerant sympathy for the regimes of Soviet Russia or Red China, and their appalling indifference to the wholesale atrocities of those countries. The more timorous type of appeasers, the "conservatives;" take a different line: they share the notion of an intellectual "elite" and, therefore, they discard intellectuality as numerically unimportant, and t~ey concentrate on cajoling the brute ("the masses"') with baby-talk-WIth vapid slogans, flattering bromides, folksy speeches in two-syllable words, on the explicit premise that reason does not work, that the brute must be won through appeals to his emotions and must, somehow, be fooled or cheated into taking the right road. Both groups believe that dictatorships are "practical"-the "liberals'" boldly and openly, the "conservatives" fearfully. Behind the "conservatives' " ineffectual, half-hearted, apologetic attempts to defend freedom, lies the often confessed belief that the struggle is futile, that free enterprise is doomed. Why? The unconfessed answer is: Because men are brutes. Moral cowardice is the necessary consequence of discarding morality as inconsequential. It is the common symptom of all intellectual appeasers. The image of the brute is the symbol of an appeaser's belief in the supremacy of evil, which means-not in conscious terms, but in terms of his quaking, cringing, blinding panic-that when his mind judges a thing to be evil, his emotions proclaim its power, and the more evil, the more powerful. To an appeaser, the self-assertive confidence of the good is a reproach, a threat to his precarious pseudo-self-esteem, a disturbing phenomenon from a universe whose existence he cannot permit himself to acknowledge -and his emotional response is a nameless resentment. The self-assertive THE OBJECTIVIST

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confidence of the evil is a metaphysical confirmation, the sign of a universe in which he feels at home-and his emotional response is bitterness, but obedience. Some dictators-who boastfully stress their reign of terror, such as Hitler and Stalin-count on this kind of psychology. There are people on whom it works. Moral cowardice is fear of upholding the good because it is good, and fear of opposing the evil because it is evil. The next step leads to opposing the good in order to appease the evil, and rushing out to seek the evil's favor. But since no mind can fully hide this policy from itself, and no form of pseudo-self-esteem can disguise it for long, the next step is to pounce upon every possible' or impossible chance to blacken the nature of the good and to whitewash the nature of the evil. Such is the relationship of mind to values-and such is the fate of those who sought to preserve their intellect by dispensing with morality. The appeaser's inner state is revealed in the field of esthetics. His sense of life dominates modern art and literature: the cult of depravity-the monotonous projection of cosmic terror, guilt, impotence, misery, doom -the compUlsive preoccupation with the study of homicidal maniacs, a preoccupation resembling the mentality of a superstitious savage who fashions a voodoo doll in the belief that to reproduce is to master. This does not mean that all the practitioners of modern art or modern politics are men who betrayed their own intelligence: most of them had nothing to betray. But it does mean that such practices would not have spread without the sanction of the intellectual traitors-and that they brought their own nightmare universe into reality by creating a cultural bandwagon for pretentious mediocrities and worse. Not all of the intellectual appeasers reach the public arena. A great many of them perish on the way, torn by their inner conflicts, paralyzed by an insufficient capacity to evade, petering out in hopeless lethargy after a brilliantly promising start. A great many others drag themselves on, by an excruciating psychological effort, functioning at a small fraction of their potential. The cost of this type of appeasement-in frustrated, hampered, crippled or stillborn talent-can never be computed. An appeaser's professional success Or failure, as well as the degree of his precarious psychological adjustment, depends on the slowness or speed of a process common to all appeasers: the erosion of his sense of values. The renunciation of values-the acceptance of an irrational moralitywas the specific form of his surrender. The pretense at any belief in altruism vanishes from his mind in a very few years, and there is nothing left to replace it: his independent capacity to value has been repressedand his fear of the brute makes the pursuit of values seem hopelessly impractical. What sets in, thereafter, is the dry rot of cynicism-like a kind of premature senility of the spirit-a thin coating of belligerent amorality over a swamp of lifeless resignation. The result is a muted, impoverished, extinguished personality, the impersonal personality of a man with an ever-shrinking range of concern, with nothing to seek, to achieve, to JANUARY 1966

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admire or oppose, and-since self-assertion is the assertion of one's values -with no self to assert. One of the bitter penalties of the appeasers is that even the most brilliant of them turn out, as persons, to be conventional, empty, dull. If their initial crime was the desire to be "one of the boys,'" this is the way in which they do succeed. Their ultimate penalty i till worse. A wrong premise doe not merely fail it achieves its 0 \ n opposite. After year of intellectual faki ng, diluting corne r-culting-in order to smuggle his ideas pa t an imaginary cen or in order to placate irrationality, stupidity dishonesty, prejuclice, malice or vulga rity- the appea er's own mind assumes the standards of those ne professes to despise. A mind cannot maintain a double standard of judgment indefinitely (if at all) . Any man who is willing to speak or write "down," i.e., to think down-who distorts his own ideas in order to accommodate the mindle s who ubordinates truth to fear- become eventually inclistinguishabJe from the hacks who cater to an alleged "public taste." He joins the hordes ~ ha believe that the mind i impotent, that reason is fu tile. that ideas are on ly means of fooli ng the masses (i.e ., that ideas are important to the unthinking, but the thinkers know better) -the vast, stagnant underworld of anti-inteIlectuality. Such is the dead end of the road he has chosen to take , he who had started out as a self-sacrificial priest of the intellect. Hatred for reason is hatred for intelligence; today's culture is saturated with both. It is the ultimate product of generations of appeasers, past and present-of men who, fearing an imaginary brute, upheld and perpetuated the irrational, inhuman, brutalizing morality of altruism. No, men are not brutes ; neither are they all independent thinkers. The majority of men are not intellectual initiators or originators; they accept what the culture offers them. It is not that they don't think; it is that they don"t sustain their thinking consistently. as a way of life, and that their abstract range is limited. To what extent they are stunted by the antirational influences of our cultural traditions, is hard to say; what is known, however, is that the majority of men use only a small part of their potential intellectual capacity. The truly and deliberately evil men are a very small minority; it is the appeaser who unleashes them on mankind; it is the appeaser's intellectual abdication that invites them to take over. When a culture's dominant trend is geared to irrationality, the thugs win over the appeasers. When intellectual leaders fail to foster the best in the mixed, unformed, vacillating character of people at large, the thugs are sure to bring out the worst. When the ablest men turn into cowards, the average men turn into brutes. No, the average man is not morally innocent. But the best proof of his non-brutality, of his helpless, confused, inarticulate longing for truth, for an intelligible, rational world-and of his response to it, when given a chance he cannot create on his own-is the fact that no dictatorship has ev.er lasted without establishing censorship. THE OBJECTIVIST

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No, it is not the intelligent man's moral obligation to serve as the leader or teacher of his less endowed brothers. His foremost moral obligation is to preserve the integrity of his mind and of his self-esteemwhich means: to be proud of his intelligence-regardless of their approval or disapproval. No matter how hard thi might be in a corrupt age like ours, he has, in fact, no alternative. It is h is on ly chance at a world where intelligence can function, which means: a world where he- and, in cidentally, they-can survive.

THE OBJECTIVIST THEORY OF VOLITION By Nathaniel Branden (Part I of a two-part article)

One of the foremost characteri lics of the majority of modern psychological theorie , aside from tI:ie arbitrariness of so many of their claims, is their frequent ly ponderous irrelevance. The cause, both of the irrelevance and of the arbitrariness, is the evident belief of their exponents that one can have a science of human nature while consistently ignoring or evading man"s most significant and distinctive attributes. Psychology today is in de perate need of epistemological rehab ilitation . It hould be unnecessary for example to point out what is wrong with the attempt to pro e that all learning .is of a ra ndom, trial-and-error kind by pl acing a rat in to a maze where random, trial -and-error Jearning is all tha t is possi ble then adducing the rat s be havior as evidence for the tbeory. it hou ld be till less requi ite to poin t out what i wrong with accepting the underlying p remise of such experimen ts: tbe groundless and flagrantly unempirical notion that the learn ing proccs in mm is to be understood through a study of the behavior of rats. But unfortunately, it is of this sort f methodology that much of the "cience' of mode rn psychology is made. In the writing f modern psychologists-whether or not the writers happen to how a predilection for the study of .rats (or pigeons or earthworms)-man is ale entity most con. picuous l. absent. This is as true of the psychoanalytical school as of tl1e behaviorist. One can read textbook after textbook today and never learn that man has the ability to think ; if the fact is acknowledged at all, it is dismissed as unimportant. One would not learn from these books that man"s distinctive form of consciousness is conceptual-nor that this is a fact of crucial significance. In many cases, one would not learn (it would not be conceded) that man is conscious at all. One would not learn that man's biologically distinguishing attribute and his basic means of survival, is reason . JANUARY 1966

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This is the first of two basic principles of man's nature which are indispensable to an understanding of man's psychology and behavior: reason (the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by the senses) is man 's distinctive tool for apprehending and dealing with the facts of reality. The second basic principle is that the exercise of his rational faculty, unlike an animal's use of his senses, is not automatic-that the decision to think is not biologically "programmed" in man-that to think is an act of choice. "The key to ... human nature ... is the fact that man is a being of volitional consciousness. Reason does not work automatically; thinking is not a mechanical process; the connections of logic are not made by instinct. The function of your stomach, lungs or heart is automatic; the function of your mind is not. Jn any hour and issue of your life, you are free to think or to evade that effort. But you are not free to escape from your nature, from the fact that reason is your means of survival-so that for you, who are a human being, the question 'to be or not to be" is the question 'to think or not to think.' " (A tlas Shrugged) A full exposition of this principle requires that we begin by placing the issue in a wider biological context-that we consider certain basic facts about the nature of living organisms. An organiSm's life is characterized by and dependent upon a constant process of internally generated action. This is evident in the process of growth and maturation, in the process of self-healing-and in the actions of the organism in relation to its environment. The goal-directedness of living action is its most striking feature. This is not meant to imply the presence of purpose on the non-conscious levels of life, but only the significant fact that there exists in living entities a principle of self-regulating action, and that that action moves toward, and normally results in, the continued life of the organism. For example, the complex processes involved in metabolism-or the remarkable self-repairing activities of living structures-or the integrated orchestration of the countless separate ~ctivities involved in the normal process of an organism's physical matura~lon. Organic self-regulation is the indisputable, fascinating and challengmgphenomenon at the base of the science of biology. Life is self-sustaining action. Life exists on different levels of development and complexity, from the single cell to man. As life advances from simpler to higher levels, one may distinguish three forms or categories of self-regulatory activity: the vegetative level of self-regulation-the conscious-behaviorallevel-the selfconscious level. The vegetative level is the most primitive. All the physiological-biochemical processes within a plant, by which the plant maintains its own existence, are of this order. This pattern of self-regulatory activity is ?perative within a single cell and in all higher life-fonns. It is operative m the non-conscious physiological-biochemical processes within the THE OBJECTIVIST

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bodies of animals and men-as in metabolism, for example. The conscious-behavioral level of self-regulation appears with the emergence of consciousness in animals. The vegetative level continues to operate within the animal's body-but a new, higher level is required to protect and sustain the animal's life, as the animal moves through its environment. This level is achieved by the animal's power of awareness. Its senses provide it with the knowledge it needs to hunt, to move around obstacles, to flee from enemies, etc. Its ability to be conscious of the external world enables the animal to regulate and direct its motor activity. Deprived of its senses, an animal could not survive. For all living entities that possess it, consciousness-the regulator of action-is the basic means of survival. The sensory-perceptual level of an animal's consciousness does not pennit it, of course, to be aware of the issue of life and death as such; but given the appropriate physical environmeI).t, the animal's sensoryperceptual apparatus and its pleasure-pain mechanism function automatically to protect its life. If its range of awareness cannot cope with the conditions that confront the animal, it perishes. But, within the limit of its powers, its consciousness serves to regulate its behavior in the direction of life. Thus, with the faculty of locomotion and the emergence of consciousness in animals, a new form of self-regulatory activity appears in nature, a new expression of this biological principle of life. In man, both life and consciousness reach their most highly developed form. Man, who shares with animals the sensory-perceptual mode of consciousness, goes beyond it to the conceptual mode-to the level of abstractions, principles, explicit reasoning and self-consciousness. Unlike animals, man has the ability to be explicitly aware of his own mental activities, to question their validity, to judge them critically, to alter or correct them. Man is not rational automatically; he is aware of the fact that his mental processes may be appropriate or inappropriate to the task of correctly perceiving reality; his mental processes are not, to him, an unalterable given. In addition to the two previous forms of self-regulating activity, man exhibits a third: the power to regulate the action of his own consciousness. In one crucial respect, however, the nature of this regulatory activity differs radically from the two previous ones. On the vegetative and conscious-behavioral levels, the self-regulation is "wired in" to the system. A living organism is a complex integrate of hierarchically organized structures and functions. The various components are controlled in part by their own regulators and in part by regulators on higher levels of the hierarchy. For example, the rhythm of the heart is directly under the control of the heart's own "pacemaker" system; the pacemaker system is regulated by the autonomic nervous system and by hormones; these are regulated by centers in the brain. The ultimate regulative principle, controlling the entire system of sub-regulators, from the nervous system to the heart down to the internal action of a single cell, JANUARY 1966

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is, clearly, the life of the organism, i.e., the requirements of the organism's survival. The organism's life is the implicit standard or goal that provides the integrating principle of the organism's internal actions. This ultimate regulator is "programmed" into the organism by nature, so to speak, as are all the sub-regulators; the organism has no choice in the matter. Just as, on the vegetative level, the specific nature of the self-regulation, the controlling and integrating principle, is "wired in" to the system-so, in a different form, this is equally true of the conscious-behavioral level in animals. The ultimate standard and goal, the animal's life, is biologically "prograrpmed;" through the animal's sensory-perceptual apparatus and its pleasure-pain mechanism, to regulate its behavior. Now consider the self-conscious level of self-regulation. The basic function of consciousness-in animals and in man-is awareness, the maintenance of cognitive contact with reality. On the plane of awareness that man shares with animals, the sensory-perceptual plane, the integrative process is automatic, i.e., "wired in" to the nervous system. In the brain of a normal human being, sensations are automatically integrated into perceptions. On the sensory-perceptual level, awareness is the controlling and regulating goal of the integrative process-by nature's "programming. " This is not true of the conceptual level of consciousness. Here, the regulation is not automatic, not "wired in" to the system. Conceptual awareness, as the controlling goal of man's mental activity, is necessary to man's proper survival, but it is not implanted by nature. Man has to provide it. Man has to select that purpose. Man has to direct his mental effort and integrate his mental activity to the goal of conceptual awareness-by choice. The capacity of conceptual functioning is innate; but the exercise of this capacity is volitional. To engage in an active process of thinking-to abstract, conceptualize, relate, infer, to reason-man must focus his mind: he must set it to the task of active integration. The choice to focus, in any given situation, is made by choosing to make awareness one's goal-awareness of that which is relevant in the given context. One activates and directs the thinking process by setting the goal: awareness-and that goal acts as the regulator and integrator of one's mental activity. The goal of awareness is set by giving oneself, in effect, the order: "Grasp this." That this goal is not "wired in" to man"s brain by nature, as the automatic regulator of mental a-::tivity, scarcely needs to be argued. One does not need to design special laboratory experiments in order to demonstrate that thinking is not an automatic process, that man's mind does not automatically "pump" conceptual knowledge, when and as man's life requires it, as his heart pumps blood. The mere fact of being confronted with physical objects and events will not force man to abstract their common properties, to integrate his abstractions into still wider abstractions, to 10

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apply his knowledge to each new particular he encounters. Man's capacity to default on the responsibility of thinking is too easily observable. Man must choose to focus his mind; he must choose to think. On the conceptuallevel, the responsibility of self-regulation is his. The act of focusing pertains to the operation of a man's consciousness, to its method of functioning-not to its content. A man is in focus when and to the extent that his mind is set to the goal of awareness, clarity, intelligibility, with regard to the object of his concern, i.e., with regard to that which he is considering or dealing with or engaged in doing. To sustain that focus with regard to a specific issue or problem, is to think. To let one's mind drift in will-less passivity, directed only by random impressions, emotions or associations-or to consider an issue without genuinely seeking to understand it-or to engage in an action without a concern to know what one is doing-is to be out of focus. What is involved here is not an issue of the degree of a man's intelligence or knowledge. Nor is it an issue of the productiveness or success of any particular thinlcing process. Nor is it an issue of the specific subjectmatter with which the mind may be occupied. It is an issue of the basic regulating principle that directs the mind's activity: Is the mind controlled by the goal of awareness-or by something else, by wishes, fears or the inert pull of lethargic anti-effort? To be in focus is to set one's mind to the purpose of active cognitive integration. The alternative is not simply absolute unconsciousness or optimal consciousness. There are different levels of awareness possible to man's consciousness, determined by the degree of his focus. This will be reflected in (a) the clarity or vagueness of his mind's contents, (b) the degree to which the mind's activity involves abstractions and principles or is concrete-bound, (c) the degree to which the relevant wider context is present or absent in the process of thinking. Thus, the choice to focus (or to think) does not consist of moving from a state of literal unconsciousness to a state of consciousness. (This, clearly, would be impossible. When one is asleep, one cannot suddenly choose to start thinking.) To focus is to move from a lower level of awareness to a higher level-to move from (relative) mental passivity to purposeful mental activity-to initiate a process of directed cognitive integration. In a state of passive (or relatively passive) awareness, a man can apprehend the need to be in full mental focus. His choice is to evade that knowledge or to exert the effort of raising the level of his awareness. The decision to focus and to think, once made, does not continue to direct a man's mind unceasingly thereafter, with no further effort required. Just as the state of full consciousness must be initiated volition ally, so it must be maintained volitionally. The choice to think must be reaffirmed in the face of every new issue and problem. The decision to be in focus yesterday will not compel a man to be in focus today. The decision JANUARY 19&6

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to be in focus about one question will not compel a man to be in focus about anot~er. The decision to pursue a certain value does not guarantee th~t ~an wIll exert the mental effort required to achieve it. In any specific thmkmg process, man must continue to monitor and regulate his own ~ental ac.tivity, to "keep it on the rails," so to speak. In any hour of his hfe, man IS free to suspend the function of his consciousness, to abandon effort, to default on the responsibility of self-regulation and let his mind dri~t passively. ~e is fr:e to maintain only a partial focus, grasping that wh~ch comes easIly to hIS understanding and declinirig to struggle for that WhICh does p.ot. Man is free not only to evade the effort of purposeful awareness in gener~l, but to ev.a~e speci~~ lin~s o~ th~ught that he finds disconcerting or pamful. PerCeIVIng qualItIes m hIS fnends, his wife-or himself-that clash with his moral standards, he can surrender his mind to blankness or s.witc? it ~astily to some other concern, refusing to identify the meaning or. ImplIcatIOns of what he has perceived. Dimly apprehending, in the ml~st ~f. an argur.n~nt, that he is being ridden by his emotions and is mamtrumng a posItIon for reasons other than those he is stating, reasons that he knows to be untenable, he can refuse to integrate his knowledge, he can refuse to pause on it-he can push it aside and continue to shout with .ri~hteous indignation. Grasping that he is pursuing a course of action that IS In blatant defiance of reason, he can cry to himself, in effect: "Who c~ be sure of anything?" -plunge his mind into fog and continue on hIS way. In s~ch cases, a man .is doing mo~e th~ defaulting on the responsibility of makmg awareness hiS goal: he IS actIvely seeking unawareness as his goal. This is the meaning of evasion. In the choice to focus or not to focus, to think or not to think, to activate the .conceptua~ level of his consciousness or to suspend it-and in this chOice alone-Is man psychologically free. (To be concluded in our next issue.)

BOOKS Emotion and Personality by Magda B. Arnold - - - - - - - - - - - - - Reviewed by ROBERT EFRON, M.D.

What are emotions? What causes them to occur? What is their role in the life. of ani~als and n,ten? What is known about the physiological mechamsms whIch underlIe the experience of an emotion? Dr. Magda Arnold presents and critically analyzes the "answers" to these questions given by philosophers and psychologists from Aristotle to Sartre, dissecting in detail the frequently erroneous initial assumptions THE OBJECTIVIST

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of each major theorist. If Dr. Arnold had done no more than provide this chronologically organized summary and critique of the history of thought about emotions, her book would be of immense interest and value. Her goal, however, is not merely to point out the defects in the works of others, but to use the conclusions of her analysis as the basis of her own theory of emotions-a theory in which she attempts to integrate the data of introspective and experimental psychology the knowledge recently gained in the neurological sciences and in endocrinology, and, alas, the premises of Thomistic theology. The integration, while not a complete success, represents a remarkable attempt to deal, in a non-contradictory manner, with all the phenomena associated with emotions. Unlike most prevailing psychological theories which deal, almost exclusively, with the painful emotions of rage, anger, fear and anxiety, Dr. Arnold's theory attempts to encompass the emotions of joy, courage, affection and love. Unlike most prevailing psychological theories which fail to make any distinctions between the emotions of animals and those of men, Dr. Arnold's theory is based on the fact that man's form of consciousness is conceptual, that man can evaluate the long-range consequences of his actions-and that man need oot act upon an emotion merely because he experiences it. Unlike most prevailing psychological theories which are based on the implicit or explicit assumption that man is essentially a pa sive being pushed by inner instinctual drives and pulled by his environment Dr. Arnold hold that man is a being of free will and that his mind is the ource of his motivation- that men choose their own values and act, volition ally , to achieve them. The first volume of this two-volume work is primarily devoted to proving that an emotion is the experience which au tomatically follows from a cognitive appraisal of an object or an event. An emotion is a response to a judgment, "Is this object event, or situation out there good for me or bad for me?" To make such an appraisal man must be able to identify the object, i.e., to know its nature and to gauge bow it wiU affect him. If he knows nothing about tbe object or event he cannot appraise it and will be indifferent (unemotional) to it. An emotion will always occur with extreme rapidity, following an appraisal whether or not the appraisal is factuaUy correct and appropriate. Dr. AmoJd adduces a good deal of evidence to support her theory. It is a theory with which-in a general way, at least-Objectivists can agree. But there is one glaring and puzzling omission in Dr. Arnold's treatment of emotions: the term "value." The concept of value as the root of emotions is implici.t in her entire discussion' bur- incomprehensibly-it is never made explicit. When one speaks of appraisal of what is "good for me or bad for me one is obviously speaking of value-judgments. Dr. Arnold's avoidance of this term is too consistent to b accidental' but the reader is given no inkling as to why. Its absence is an unfortunate defect in Dr. Arnold's presentation. ,H

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Dr. Arnold makes an intere ling, and to my knowledge, an original distinction between "feelings ' and emotion." Feelings, she states, are the positiv ( plea urable) or negative ( unpJea ant ) internal states which are the direct and immediate effects of sensory stimulation either from external or internal sources. The follow from appraisals of how sensations affect u· . In contradistinction emotions are reactions to the appraisal of perceptions. Wberea' feeling follow from the effect of sensations on our body, emotions follow from appraisals of the phenomena of external reality. Whether or not one can ultimately accept the validity of this distinction between feelings and emotions, it does appear to have a good deal to commend it...:.and Dr. Arnold develops her distinction very effectively when she traces the development of emotions from the simple feeling states of the newborn baby to the complex emotions of adult life. The first volume of Emotion and Personality can be read profitably by any educated layman and can be treated as a self-contained unit. The second volume deals with the neurophysiological basis of emotions; and, despite Dr. Arnold's efforts to make this volume as universal in appeal as the first, the technical nature of the subject matter unavoidably places greater demands on the reader. One will find here, however, an excellent and comprehensive review, and a discriminating analysis, of the field of knowledge generally referred to as "neuropsychology." One will find firstrate accounts .of the major experimental work describing the defects in psychological functions such as learning, memory, perception and volitional action, which occur following brain damage in animals and man. I must mention that I cannot always agree with Dr. Arnold's neurophysiological theories. For example, she commits a major but very common error-that of confusing the functional disturbance due to damage of parts of the brain with the function of those parts. A patient may be unable to identify an object by the use of his vision if his brain is damaged in region X. This does not necessarily mean that the "function" of region X is to identify objects visually. It could mean only that region X, in association with other regions of the brain, is required for this function. It is an error to assume that each specific psychological function or activity "is performed by," "takes place in" or is "mediated by" some quite small region of the brain-a view which could be considered the modern equivalent of phrenology. However, such neurophysiological theories are not essential to her main thesis and are easily separable from her clearly presented facts. The great merits of Emotion and Personality are its comprehensiveness; the importance of its central thesis: that emotions are the product of cornitive appraisals; the many fascinating and provocative psychological ob~ervations with which the book is filled' and the truly admirable lucidity of the writing. Dr. Arnold' infrequent excursions into Thomistic theology are startlingly incongruous in a cientific work; however, they do not seriously mar the:: overall value and importance of her book. This work is of inestimable value to students and professionals in the THE OBJECTIVIST

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field of psychology, neurology and philosophy. It can be read with enjoyment by any educated layman seriously interested in the psychology of emotions. It offers to all readers the immensely gratifying experience of watching a brilliantly analytical mind at worlc- a value rare enough in any field today but Tare above all, in the literature of psychology. Emotion and Personality is published by Columbia University Press in 2 volumes, $10 per volume. Available from NBI BOOK SERVICE, Inc., 120 East 34th St., New York, N.Y. 10016. (N.Y. State residents add sales tax; outside the U.S. add 254 per volume.) Dr. Efron is a neurologist and neurophysiologist working in the field of perception; he is Chief. Neurophysiology-Biophysics Research Unit. V.A. Hospital, Boston; he has published articles in scientific publication.s such a.s "Brain," "British Journal of Ophthalmology," "Journal of PhySiology."

OBJECTIVIST CALENDAR • On Tuesday February 8, Nathaniel Branden's course OD "Basic Principles of Objectivism" will begin in New York City. Time: 8 P .M. Place: Sheraton-Atlantic Hotel, 34th St. & Broadway. Visitor's admission: $3.50. (College & High School Students: $2 .75.) Ayn Rand will participate in the question period which follows the lecture. For further details, contact NATHANIEL BRANDEN INSTITUTE. 120 East 34th St., New York, N.Y. 10016. • On Wednesday, February 9, Nathaniel Branden wiII speak at ArIington State College in Arlington, Texas. His subject: "Alienation and the Critics of Capitalism. Time: 2 P.M. Open to the public; admission free for college students, 504 for otbers. • On Monday, February L4, Ayn Rand will deliver Lecture # 17-"The Estbetics of Literature"-in the current NBl course on "Basic Principles of Objectivism" in New York City. Time: 7: 30 P.M. Place: SheratonAtlantic Hotel 34th St. & Broadway. Visitor's admission: $3.50. • On Saturday. February 19, Dr. AJlan Blumenthal win conduct a workshop on Objectivist psychotherapy in Detroit. Michigan. This workshop is open only to professionals in the mental bealthfield-psychology, psychiatry, psychiatric social work, etc. For further details, contact Dr. Roger Canahan, 17000 W. Eight Mile, Southfield, Michigan (phone : 356-099J). • NBr's Tape Transcription Division has scheduled the following starting dates: "Basic Principles of Objectivism" in Tampa, Feb. 2; Riverside, JANUARY 1966

15

Calif., Feb. 2; Charlottesville, Va., Feb. 6; Rochester, N.Y., Feb. 6; Lansing, Mich., Feb. 8; Madison, Wisc., Feb. 8; Lake Forest, Ill., Fe? 14; Winnipeg, Feb. 16; Cincinnati, Feb. 18- "Contemporary Th.e~nes of Neurosis'" in Youngstown, Feb. 4-"Basic Principles of ObjectlVlst Psychology" in Houston, Feb. 6; Boston, Feb. 9; Chicago, Feb. 27-"~e Principles of Efficient Thinking" in Montreal, Feb. 16-"The Economl~s of a Free Society" in Detroit, Feb. 25-"Three Plays by Ayn Rand" 10 Washington, D.C., Feb. 25-"The History of Ancient Philosophy" in Chicago, Feb. 27. For further information, contact NI. • A condensed version of Ayn Rand's article "What is Capitalism?" which appeared in the November and December 1965 issues of THE OBJECTIVIST NEWSLETTER, was published in Barron's on January 3. • On January 24, Nathaniel Branden addressed the Psychiatric Division of the San Mateo (Calif.) County Medical Society and the San Mateo County Health Department. His subject: "Psychotherapy and the Objectivist Ethics." • On January 26, Nathaniel Branden spoke at the California Institut~ .of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. His subject: "Alienation and the Cntlcs of Capitalism."

THE OBJECTIVIST

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PHILOSOPHY AND SENSE OF LIFE By Ayn Rand Since religion is a primitive form of philosophy- an attempt to offer a comprehensive view of reality- many of its myths are distorted dramatized allegories based on some element of truth, some actuat, if profoundly elusive aspect of man's existence. One of such allegories which men find particularly terrifying, is the myth of a supernatural recorder from whom nothing can be hidden who lists all of a man's deeds-the good and the evil, the noble and the vile-and who confronts a man with that record on judgment day. That myth is true, not existentially, but psychologically. The merciless recorder is the integrating mechanism of a man's subconscious; the record is his sense of life. A sense of life is a pre-conceptual equivalent of metaphysics, an emotional subconsciously integrated appraisal of man relationship to existence. It sets the nature of a man's emotional responses and the essence of his character. Long before he is old enough to grasp such a concept as metaphysics, man makes choices, forms value-judgments experiences emotions and acquires a certain implicit view of life. Every choice and value-judgment implies some estimate of himself and of the world around him-most particularly, of his capacity to deal with the world. He may draw conscious conclusions, which may be true or false; or he may remain mentally pa sive and merely react to events (i.e., merely feel). Whatever the case may be his subconscious mechanism sums up his psychological activjties, integrating his conclu ions, reactions or evasions into an emotional sum that establishes a habitual pattern and becomes his automatic response to the world around him. What began as a series of single, discrete conclusions (or evasions) about his own particular problems, becomes a generalized feeling about existence, an implicit meraphysicswith the compelling motivational power of a constant, basic emotion-an emotion which is part of all his other emotions and underlies all his experiences. This is a sense of life. To the extent to which a man is mentally active, i.e., motivated by the desire to know to understand. his mind works as the progr~mmer of his emotional computer-anti his sense of life develops into a bright counterpart of a rational philosophy. To the extent to which a man evades, the programming of his emotional computer is done by chance influences: by random impressions, association , imitations, by undigested snatches of environmental bromides by cultural osmo i . If evasion or lethargy is a man's predominant method of mental functioning, the result is a sense of life dominated by fear-a soul like a shapeless piece of clay stamped upon FEBRUARY 19&&

17

by footprints going in all directions. (In later years. such a m~n c~ies that he has lost his sense of identity; the fact is that he never aCQUIred It. ) Man, by his nature. cannot refrain from generalizing; he cannot live moment by moment. without context. without past or futur.e; he cannot eliminate his integrating capacity, i.e., his conceptual capacity. an~ co~­ fine his consciousness to an animal's perceptual range. Just as an ammal s consciousness cannot be stretched to deal with abstractions. so man's consciousness cannot be shrunk to deal with nothing but immediate concretes. The enonnously powerful integrating mechanism of m.an's co~sci~usness is there at birth; his only choice is to drive it or to be dnven by It. Smce. an act of volition-a process of thought-is required to use that mech~msm for a cognitive purpose, man can evade t~at effo~t. But I~ he evades chance takes over: the mechanism functions on Its own, lIke a machi~e without a driver; it goes on integrating. but integrating blindly, incongruously. at random-not as an instrument of cognition, but as .an instrument of distortion, delusion and nightmare terror, bent on wreckmg ... its defaulting possessor's consciousness. A sense of life is formed by a process of emotional generalIzation which may be described as a subconscious counterpart o~ a proce~s. of abstraction since it is a method of classifying and integratmg. But It IS a process of e;notional abstraction: it consists of classifying things according to the emotions they invoke-i.e., of tying together, by assoc.iati?~ or connot~tion, all those things which have the power to make an mdlvld~al expenence the same (or a similar) emotion. For instance: a new neighborhood, a discovery, adventure, struggle, triumph-or: the folks next door, a memorized recitation, a family picnic, a known routine, comfort. On a more adult level: a heroic man, the skyline of Ncw York, a sunlit landscape. pure colors, ecstatic music-or: a humble man, an old village, a foggy landscape, muddy colors, folk music. . . Which particular emotions will be invokt!d by the thmgs m th~se examples. as their respective common denominators, depends on which sct of things fits an individual's ,'jew of him.l"clf. For a man of se.lf-eQe:ll1. the emotion unitin!! the things in the first part of thesc examples IS admmltion, exaltation. a-sense of challenge; the cmotion uniting the things in the second part is di~gust or boredom. For a man who lacks self-~steem. the emotion uniting thl: things in the fiN part of these examples IS fea~. guilt. resentment: thc emotion uniting the.: . things in the se~~nd part IS relicf from fear. reassurance, the und\~malldlng safety of passIvity. Even though such emotional abstractions grow into a metaphysical view of man, their origin lies in an individual's view of h~mself ~nd .of his own relationship to existence. The subverbal, subconscIOus. cn.te~lon of selection that forms his emotional abstractions is: "That which IS Important to me" or: "The kind of universe which is right for me, in which I would feel at home." It is obvious what immense psychological consequences will follow, depending on whether a man's s~bconscious metaphysics is consonant with the facts of reality or contradicts them. 18

The key concept, in the formation of a sense of life, is the term "important." It is a concept that belongs to the realm of values, since it implies an answer to the question: Impprtant-to whom? Yet its meani~g is different from that of moral values. "Important" does not necessanly mean 'good." It means: "A quality character or standing such as to entitle to attention or consideratiolJ." (The American College Dictionary.) What, in the most fundamental sense, is entitled to one"s attention' or consideration? Reality. "Important"-in its essential meaning, as distinguished from its more limited and superficial uses-is a metaphysical tenn. It pertains to that aspect of metaphysics which serves as a bridge between metaphysics and ethics: to a fundamental view of man's nature. That view involves the answers to such questions as whether the universe is knowable or not, whether man has the power of choice or not, whether he can achieve his goals in life or not. Even though metaphysics is not a n~nnative science, the answers to such questions may be designated as "metaphysical valuejudgments," since they form the base of ethics. It is only those values which he regards or grows to regard as "important," those which represent his implicit view of reality, that remain in a man's subconscious and form his sense of life. "It is important to understand things"- "It is important to obey my parents '-"It is important to act on my own"-' It is important to please other people"-"lt is important to fight for what I want"- 1t is important not to make enemies' -"My Ilfe is important '- "Who am I to stick my neck out?' Man is a being of self-made soul-and it is of such conclusions that the stuff of his soul is made. Nathaniel Branden defines "soul" as "a mind and its basic values." The integrated sum of a man's basic values is his sense of life .. A sense of life represents man's early value-integrations, which remain in an extremely fluid, plastic, easily ammendable state, while a man gathers knowledge to reach full conceptual control and thus to drive his inner mechanism. A full conceptual control means a consciously directed process of cognitive integration, which means: a conscious philosophy of life. By the lime he reaches adolescence man's knowledge is ufficient to deal with broad fundamentals ; thjs is the period when he becomes aware of the need to translate his incoherent sense of life into consciou terms. This i the period when he gropes for such things as the meaning of life for principles, ideals values and. desperately. for self-as crtion. Andsince nothing is done, in our anti-rational culture, to assist a young mind in this crucial tran ition, and everything possible i done to'hamper, cripple, stultify it-the result is the frantic , hy terical irrationality of rno t adolescents particularly today. Theirs is the agon, of the unborn- of mmds go.ing through a process of atrophy al the lime set by nature fQf their growth. The transition from guidance by a sense of life to guidance by a conscious philosophy takes many forms . For the rare exception, the fully

THE OBJECTIVIST FEBRUARY 1966

19

rational child, it is a natural, absorbing, if difficult, process-the process of validating and, if necessary, correcting in conceptual terms what he had merely sensed about the nature of man's existence, thus transforming a wordless feeling into clearly verbalized knowledge, and laying a firm foundation, an intellectual roadbed, for the course of his life. The result is a fully integrated personality, a man whose mind and emotions are in harmony, whose sense of life matches his conscious convictions. Philosophy does not replace a man's sense of life which continues to function as the automatically integrated sum of his values. Bot philosophy sets the criteria of his emotional integrations according to a fully defined and consistent view of reality (if and to the extent that a philosophy is rational). Instead of deriving, subconsciously, an impJicit metaphysics from his value-judgments, he now derives conceptually, hjs value-judgments from an e.xplicit metaphysics. His emotions proceed from his fullyconvinced judgments. The mind leads, the emotions follow. For many men, the process of transition never takes place: they make no attempt to integrate their knowledge, to acquire any conscious convictions, and are left at the mercy of their inarticulate sense of life as their only guide. For most men, the transition is a tortured and not fully successful ptOcess, leading to a fundamental inner conflict-a clash between a man's conscious convictions and his repressed, unidentified (or only partially identified) sense of life. Very often the transition is incomplete, as in the case of a man whose convictions are not part of a fuUy integrated philosophy, but are merely a collection of random, disconnect~d, often contradictory ideas, and, therefore are unconvincing to his own mind against the power of his subconscious metaphysJcs. In some cases a man' sen e of life is better (closer: to the t,ruth) than the kind of ideas he accepts. In other cases, hi sense of life is much wor e than the ideas he professes to accept but is unable fully to practice. Ironically enougb,it is man 's emotions, in such cases, that act as the avengers of hi neglected or betrayed intellect. In order to live, man must act; in order to act, he must make choices; in order to make choices, he must define a code of values; in order to define a code of values he must b..1l0W what he is and where he is-i.e., he mu ' t know his own nature (including his means of knowledge) and the nature of the unjverse in which he acts-i.e .. he needs metaphysics. epistemology, ethics, which means: philosophy. He cannot escape from thi need, his only alternative is whether the philosophy guiding him is to be chosen by his mind or by chance. If his mind does not provide him with a comprehensive view of existence, his sense of life will. If he succumbs to centuries of concerted assaults on the mind-to traditions offering vicious irrationality or unconscionable nonsense in the guise of philosophy-if he gives up, in letbargy or in bewilderment, evades fundamental issues and concerns himself only with the concretes of his day-by-day existence, his sense of life takes over:

20

THE OBJECTIVIST

for good or evil (and, usually, for evil), he is left at the mercy ,)f a subconscious philosophy which he does not know, has never checked, has never been aware of accepting. Then, as his fear, anxiety and uncertainty mount year by year, he finds himself living with a sense of unknown, undefinable doom, as if in expectation of some approaching judgment day. What he does not know is that every day of his life is judgment day-the day of paying for the defaults, the lies, the contradictions, the blank-outs recorded by his subconscious on the scrolls of his sense of life. And on that kind of psychological record, the blank entries are the blackest sins. A sense of life once acquired , is not a closed issue. Tt can b changed and corrected-easily, in youth , whjle it is still fluid , or by a longer, harder effort in later years. Since it is an emotional sum, it cannot be cbanged by a direct act of wili. It change automatically but only after a long process of psychological retraining, when and jf a man changes his conscious philosophical premi es. Whether he corrects it or not, whether it is objectively consonant with reality or not, at any stage or state of its specific content, a sense of life always retains a profoundly personal quality ; it reflects a man s deepest values ' it is experienced by him as a sen e of his Own identity. A given person's sense of life is bard to identify conceptually, because it i hard to isolate: it is involved in everything about that person in his every thought, emotion action in his every response, in his every choice and value , in his every spontaneous gesture. in his way of coming at things, ' in his manner of moving talking, smiling, in the total of his personality. It is that which makes him a "personality." Introspectively one' own sen e of life i experienced as an absolute and an irreducible primary- as that which one never questions, because the thought of questioning it never arises. Extrospectively. the' sense of life of another person strike one as an immediate, yet undefinable, impression~n very short acquaintance-an impression which often feels like certainty yet is exasperatingly elusive if one attempts to verify it. This leads many people to regard a sense of life as the province of some sort of special intuition, as a matter perceivable on!y by some special, non-rational insigbt. The exact opposite is true: a sense of life is not an irreducible primary, but a very complex sum' it can be felt, but it cannot be understood, by an automatic reaction; to be understood, it has to be analyzed, identified and verified conceptually. That automatic impression-of oneself or of otbers- is only a lead; left untranslated, it can be a very deceptive lead. But if and when that intangible impression is supported by and unites with the conscious judgment of one's mjnd, the result is the most exultant form of certainty one can ever experience: it is the integration of mind and values. There are two aspects of man's existence which are the special province and expression of his sense of life: love and art. I am referring here to romantic love, in the serious meaning of that FEBRUARY 1!16S

21

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term-as distinguished from the superficial infatuations of those whose sense of life is devoid of any consistent values, i.e., of any lasting emotions other than fear. Love is a response to values. It is with a person's sense of life that one falls in love-with that essential sum, that fundamental stand or way of facing existence, which illuminates an entire personality. One falls in love with the embodiment of the values that formed a person's character, which are reflected in his widest goals or smallest gestures, which create the styLe of his soul-the individual style of a unique, unrepeatable, irreplaceable consciousness. It is one's own sense of life that acts as the selector, and responds to what it recognizes as one's own basic values in the person of another. It is not a matter of professed convictions (though these are not irrelevant); it is a matter of much more profound, conscious and subconscious harmony. Many errors and tragic disillusionments are possible in this process of emotional recognition, since a sense of life, by itself, is not a reliable cognitive guide. And if there are degrees of evil, then one of the most evil consequences of mysticism-in terms of human suffering-is the belief that love is a matter of "the heart," not the mind, that love is an emotion independent of reason, that love is blind and impervious to the power of philosophy. Love is the expression ot philosophy-of a subconscious philosophical sum-and, perhaps, no other aspect of human existence needs the conscious power of philosophy quite so desperately. When that power is called upon to verify and support an emotional appraisal, when love is a conscious integration of reason and emotion, of mind and values, thenand only then-it is the greatest reward of man's life. Art is a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's metaphysical value-judgments. It is the integrator and concretizer of man's metaphysical abstractions. It is the voice of his sense of life. As such, art is subject to the same aura of mystery, the same dangers, the same tragedies -and, occasionally, the same glory-as romantic love. Of all human products, art is, perhaps, the one most personally important to man and the least understood-as we shall discuss next month.

THE OBJECTIVIST THEORY OF VOLITION By Nathaniel Branden

values, interests, knowledge and context. It must be distinguished from the decision to think about a particular physical action, which again depends on a man's values, interests, knowledge and context. These decisions involve causal antecedents of a kind which the choice to focus does not. The primary choice to focus, to set one' mind to the purpose of cognitive integration, is a first cause in a man's consciousness. On the psychological level, this choice is causally irreducible ' it is the highest regulator in the mental system; it is subject to man's direct, vofi lional contra!. ]0 relation to it, all other choices and decisions are sub-regulators. The capacity of volitional choice presupposes, of course, a normal brain state. A condition of disease can render any human faculty inoperative. But this analysis assumes an intact, normally functioning brain and nervous system. It must be stressed that volition pertains, specifically. to the conceptual level of awareness. A child encounters the need of cognitive self-regulation when and as he begins to think, when and as he learns to abstract. to classify, to grasp principles, to reason explicitly. So long as he functions on the sensory-perceptual level, he experiences cognition as an effortless process. But when he begins to conceptualize, he is confronted by the fact that this new form of awareness entails mental work, that it requires an effort, that he must choose to generate this effort. He discovers that. on this new level of awareness, he is not infallible; error is possible: cognitive success is not automatically guaranteed to him . (Whereas to look is to see. to ask a question is not automatically to know the answer; and to know what question to ask is not automatic, either.) He discovers the need continually to monitor and regulate his mind's activity. A child does not. of course, identify this knowledge verbally or explicitly. But it is implicit in his consciousness, by direct introspective awareness. Just as a man cannot escape the implicit knowledge that the function of his mind is volitional, so he cannot escape the implicit knowledge that he should think, that to be conscious is desirable. that his efficacy as a living entity depends on it. But he is free to act on that knowledge or to evade it. To repeat: Nature has not "programmed" him to think automatically. In some cases, the motive of non-thinking is anti-effort. i.e., a disinclination to exert the enerl!}' and accept the responsibility that thinking requires. In other cases, the motive is some wish, desire or feeling which one wants to indulge and which one's reason cannot sanction-and so one "solves" the problem by going out of focus. In other cases, the motive is escape from fear, fear to which one knows one should not surrender, but to which one does surrender, suspending one's consciou~ness and negating one's judgment. These motives are not causal imperatives; they are feelings which a man may choose to treat as decisive. As focusing involves expanding the range of one's awareness, so evasion consists of the reverse process: of shrinking the range of one's awareness. Evasion consists of refusing to raise the level of one's awareness, when one knows (clearly or dimly) that one should-or of lowering the level of one's

a

(Part II ot a two-part article)

Man's freedom to focus or not to focus, to think or not to think, is a unique kind of choice tbat must be distinguished from any other category of choice. It must be distinguished from the decision to think about a particular subject: what a man thinks about, in any given case; depends on his THE OBIECTIVIST

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FEBRUARY 1966

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awareness, when one knows (clearly or dimly) that one shouldn't. To evade a fact is to attempt to make it unreal to oneself. on the implicit subjectivist premise that if one does not perceive the fact, it does not exist (or its existence will not matter and will not entail any consequences) . Consciousness is man's tool for perceiving and identifying reality. It is an organ of integration. To focus is to set the integrative process in purposeful motion-by setting the appropriate goal: awareness. Non-focus i non-integration. Evasion is willful disintegration, the act of subverting the proper function of consciousness, of etting the cognitive function in reverse and reducing the contents of one's mind to disconnected, unintegrated fragments that are forbidden to confront one another. . !"fan's life and well-being depend upon his maintaining a proper cogU1tlve contact with reality-and this requires a full mental focus, maintained as·a way of life. The act of focusing, as a primary mental set, must be distinguished from the act of problem-solving. Problem-solving entails the pursuit of the answer to some specific question; as such, it presupposes a state of focus, but is not synonymous with it. For example, a man who goes for a walk on a sunny day, intent only on the enjoyment of his activity, with no munediate concern for any long-range problems, may still be in mental focus - if he knows dearly what he is doing and why, and if he preserves a fundamental alertness, a readiness for purposeful thought, should the need for it arise. To be in focus does not mean that one must be engaged in the task of problem-solving every moment of one's waking existence. It means that one must know what one is doing. It means that one must not engage in activities which one can permit oneself only if one first suspends one's conscious mind and judgment. Th.e 0re consistently and conscientiously a man maintains a policy of bemg ID full mental focus, of thinking, of judgjng the facts of reality that confront him, of knowing what he is doing and why, the easier and more' natural" the process becomes. The steadily increaSing knowledge he acquires as a result of his policy, the growing ense of control over his existence, the growing self-confidence-the conviction of living in a universe that is open to him-all serve to put every emotional incentive on the ~ide o~ his continuing to think. Further, they reduce the possibility of an IncentIve that could even tempt him [0 evade. It is too clear to him that reality is not and can never be hjs enemy-that he has nothing to gain from self-inflicted blindness, and everything to lose. No this does not mean that, for such a man, the policy of rationality becomes automatic; it wiU always remain volitional; but he has "programmed" himself, as it were, to have every emotional incentive for rationality and none for irrationality. To borrow a phrase from Aristotle, he has learned to make rationality "second-nature" to him. That is the psychological reward he earns for himself. But-and this must be emphasized-his psychological state must be maintained VolilionaJ1y ' he retains the power to betray it. In each new issue he encounters, he still must

m.

THE OBJECTlYIST

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choose to think. . . Conversely, the more a man maintains a policy of focus.mg as httle as possible, and of evading any facts he finds painful to ~onsider, the more he sabotages himself psychologically-and the more dIfficult .the t~sk of thinking becomes for him. The inevitable con~equences of hIS ~ohcy of non-thinking are feelings of helplessne.ss? ~f me~cacy, of anxlety~the sense of living in an unknowable and IUlmlcal UnIverse. These feel~ngs undercut his confidence in his ability to think, in the usefulness of thmking-and he tends to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the mental ch~os in himself which he has to untangle. Further, the countless fears to whIch his policy of evasion inevitably condemns him put the weight of his e~o­ tions on the side of additional evasions, of more and more self-deceptIOn, of an evermore frantic flight from reality. No this does not mean that his evasion and irrationality become automatic; they remain volitional; but he has "programmed" .himself to ~nd rationality harder and harder, and to find ~he tem~tatIOn to e.vaslO.n stronger and stronger. That is the psychologIcal pUnIshment which hiS nature imposes on him for his default. . . . . But he retains the power to change hiS course. This Side of psychOSIS, and assuming no interfering structural or chemical disorde~s, every ~an retains that power, regardless of his previous mental practices. ,":ol1tIOn pertains exclusively to one issue: Is awarenes~ th: go~l of one s CO?sciousness-or not? What repeated evasion and Irrationality can affec~ IS, not the ability to choose to focus, but the efficiency, speed and productlv:ness of a given thinking proCess. Since the habitual evader has ~pe~t hiS time, not on improving the efficacy of his mind, b~t on sabotagl~g It, he suffers the consequences in terms of mental stram, slowness, mternal chaos, when he does decide to think. If he perseveres, he can rede~m and raise the efficacy of his thinking. But the mental effort he refused to exert .. formerly, must now be exerted tenfold. . In a given moment, a man may be so overcome by a vIO.lent emot~on -partiCUlarly fear-that he may find it difficult or impOSSible to thmk . clearly. But he has the power to know t?at he is in t~is state-and, u~less instant action is required, to defer actmg or drawmg. fi~al conclUSIOns until his mind has cleared. In this manner, he can rem am m control even under acute stress. (It is worth mentioning, in passing, that the more. a man surrenders to his emotions in non-acute situations, when he easily could have done otherwise, the more susceptible he is to becoming psychologically incapacitated and helplessly blinded under pressure; .he has no firmly established "habit" of rational self-discipline to support.hlm.) An incentive is not a necessitating cause. The fact that a man has go~d reason to want to think about some issue, does not guarantee tha~ he w~\1 do so; it does not compel him to think. And the fact that a .man IS afral~ to think about some issue, does not make it impossible for him to do so; It does not compel him to evade. A man's behavior, i.e., his actions, proceed from his values and premFEIRUAIIY '811

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ises, which in turn proceed, in the context of the knowledge available to him, from his thinking or non-thinking. His actions may be said to be free in that they are under the control of a faculty which is free, i.e., which functions volitionally. This is the reason why a man is held responsible for his actions. As to a man's desires and emotions, a man cannot will them in or out of existence directly; but he is not compelled to act on them if and when he considers them inappropriate. A desire or an emotion is a valueresponse, the automatic product of an estimate (conscious or subconscious) -and an estimate is the product of an individual's values and premises (conscious or subconscious), as the individual applies them to a given situation. Man can alter his desires and emotions only by revising the thinking or non-thinking that produced his values and premises. A man's social environment can provide incentives to think or it can make the task harder-according to the degree of human rationality or irrationality that a man encounters. But the social environment cannot determine a man's thinking or non-thinking. It cannot force him to exert the effort and accept the responsibility of cognition and it cannot force him to evade; it cannot force him to subordinate his desires to his reason and it cannot force him to sacrifice his reason to his desires. In this issue, man is inviolably a self-regulator. The social environment can provide man with incentives for good or for evil, but-to repeat-an incentive is not a necessitating cause. The environment consists only of facts; the meaning of those facts-the conclusions and convictions to be drawn from them-can be identified only by a man's mind. A man's character, the degree of his rationality, independence. honesty. is determined. not by the things he perceives, but by the thinking he does or fails to do about them. At any step of the way. of course, a man can make honest mistakes of knowledge or judgment: he is not infallible; he may identify incorrectly the meaning or the significance of the events he observes. His power of volition does not guarantee him protection against errors; but it does guarantee that he need not be left helplessly at the mercy of those errors for the rest of his life: he is free constantly to look for the evidence that will confirm and support his conclusions or inform him that his conclusions are wrong and must be revised. If. for instance. a child is brought up by irrational parents who give him a bewildering. frightening: and contradictory impression of reality, he may decide that all human beings by their nature are incomprehensible and dangerous to him; and, if he arrests his thinking at this point, if, in later years, he never attempts to question or overcome his chronic feeling of terror and helplessness. he can spend the rest of his life in a state of embittered paralysis. But such does not have to be his fate: if he continues to struggle with the problem, or, as he grows older, if he decides to think about it, to re-examine it, to consider the new, wider evidence available to him, he can discover that he has made an unwarranted generalization and THE OBJECTIVIST

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he can reject it in favor of a fully reasoned and conscious conviction. Another child, in the same circumstances, may draw a different conclusion: he may decide that all human beings are unreliable' and evil. and that he will beat them at their own game: he will act as ruthlessly and dishonestly as possible, to hurt them before they hurt him. Again. he can revise this conclusion later in the light of wider evidence, if he chooses to think about it. The facts of reality available to him will give him many opportunities to perceive that he is wrong. If he doesn't choose to think. he will become a scoundrel- not because his parents were irrational. but because he defaulted on the responsibility of forming his convictions consciously and of constantly checking them against the facts of reality. A third child, in the same circumstances, may decide that his parents are wrong, that they are unjust and unfair, or at least that they do not act intelligibly, and that he must not act as they do; he may suffer at home. but keep looking for evidence of better human behavior, among neighbors or in books and movies, refusing to resign himself to the irrational and the incomprehensible as inevitable. Such a child will draw an enormous advantage out of his misfortune, which he will not realize until many years later: he will have laid the foundation of a profound self-confidence. If an adolescent grows up in a neighborhood where crime flourishes and is cynically accepted as the normal. he can, abdicating the independence of his judgment, allow his character to be shaped in the image of the prevailing values, and become a criminal himself; or. choosing to think, he can perceive the irrationality and humiliating self-degradation of those who accept a criminal's mode of existence, and fight to achieve a better way of life for himself. If a man is pounded since childhood with the doctrine of Original Sin, if he is taught that he is corrupt by nature and must spend hi~ life in penance, if he is taught that this earth is a place of misery, frustration and calamity, if he is taught that the pursuit of enjoyment is evil-he does not have to believe it: he is free to think, to Question and to judge the nature of a moral code that damns man and damns existence and places its standard of the good outside of both. Of any value offered to him as the right. and any assertion offered to him as the true, a man is free to ask: Why? That "Why?" is the threshold that the beliefs of others cannot cross without his consent. It is conceivable, of course, that a young child could be subjected, from the first months and years of his life, to such extraordinarily vicious irrationality - such bewildering, contradictory and terrifying behavior on the part of his parents - that it would be impossible for him to develop normally, impossible to establish any firm base of knowledge on which to build. It is conceivable that a child could be paralyzed psychologicallyor severely retarded mentally - in this manner. But this would represent the destruction, not the "conditioning," of a child's mind; it is scarcely the pattern of the overwhelming majority of mankind; and this is not what is meant by those who claim that man is the product of his background. FEBRUARY 1966

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Let us consider the case of the individual who does appear to be the product of his background of his social environment. Let us analyze, as an example the case of the boy who , brought up in a bad neighborhood becomes a criminal. In the actions of a boy who fuus allow himself to be shaped by bis environment, the most obviously apparent motive is the desire " to swim with the current. ' The root of that desire is the wish to escape the effort and responsibility of initiating one own course of action . In order to choose one's own actions one has to choose ooe's own goal , and to do that, one has to choose one's own value and to do that, one has to ~k . But thinking is the first and basic responsibility that such a ?oy r~Jects. Having no values or standards of his own, he is led - . by hIS deSire f.or "security"- to accept whatever values are offered to him by the SOCIal group in which he finds him elf. To swi~ with the current, one bas to accept the ocean ot the swamp or the rapids or the cesspool or.the abyss, toward which that particular current i rushing. Such a boy WIll w~nt to swim he will want to follow any course of action ready-made f or hIm by others he will want to " belong." And so, if the boys in the neighborhood form a gan~ at the co~er pool-room he will join; if they start r~bbing people he will star~ ro??I~g people; if they begin to murder, he Will murder. What m ove hl~ IS. h feelings . His feelings are all he has left, once h~ has ab~doned hI ml~d. He does not join tbe gang by a conscious, reasoned decI Ion: he feels like joining. He does not foll.ow the gang because .he honestI~ thinks tbey ~re right: he feels like following. If bis mother objects and tnes ~o argue With him, to persuade him to quit the hoodlums, be does not weigh her ar?uments , he does not conclude that he is wrong - he does not feel like thinking about it. . If, at some point, he begins to fear that the gang may be gomg. too far, if he recoils from the prospect of becoming a murderer, ?e reallzes that the alternative is to break with his friend and be left on his own ' he does not weigh the advantages or disadvantages of being left on his own; he chooses blindly to stick with the gang - becaus~ he fe~ls terror at the prospect of independence. He may see, acr~ss the ~Iver or Just a few ?locks away people who lead a totaUy diffeTent.h~d of life, and boy of hiS own age who, somehow, did not bec~~~ .cflmtn~ls; he h~s many me~s ?{ access [0 a wider view of the POSsibIlities of life; but thiS does ?ot ra\S~ 10 his mind the question whether a better kind of life may be pas Ible to hIm , it does not prompt him to inquire or investi~at.e - becaus~ he fe: ls terror of the unknown. If he asks himself what It IS that terrifies him about breaking with his background, he will answer,' in effect : ' A.w: r don't know nobody out there and nob~dy.knows ~e ..' In. reason , thiS IS n~t an explanation: there is nothing objectIvely terrifytn~ 10 that statemen~ but i[ satisfies him - because he feels an overwhelmmg dread of l?neliness, and jeelinJ.(s arc his only absolute , the absolute .O?t to be .question.ed. And if, at the age of twenty. he i. dragged to Jail to awaIt executton fOT THE OBJECTIVIST

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some monstrously bloody and senselessly wanton crime - he will scream tbat be could not help it and that he never had a chance. He will not scream it because it is true. He will scream it because he feeLs it. In a sense opposite to that which he intends, there is one element of truth in his scream: given his basic policy of anti-thought, he could not help it and he never had a chance. Neither has any other human being who moves through life on that sort of policy. But it is not true that·he or any other human being could not help running from the necessity to think, could not help riding blindly on his feelings. On every day of this boy's life and at every crucial turnIiJg-point, the possibility of thinking about his actions was open to him. The evidence on which to base a change in his policy was available to him. He evaded it. He cho!\e not to think. If. at every turning-point. he had thought carefully and conscientiously, and had simply reached the wrong conclusions. he would be more justilied in crying that he could nnthelp it. But it is not helplesslv hewildered, conscil!ntious thinkers whc, tin reform schools aod who murder one another on street corner~ - through an error in logic. If one wi~hes to understand what destroyed this boy, the key lies, ~o[ in his environment. but in the fact that he let himself be moved , .,"uided and motivated by his feelings. that he tried to substitute his feelings for his mind. There was nothing to prevent him from thinking, except that he did not fl!el like it. To the extent that a man defaults on the responsibility of thinking, he is, in significant measure, "the product of his environment." But such is not the nature of man. It is an instance of pathology. The attempt of most psychologists to explain a man's behavior without reference to the degree of his thinking or non-thinking. by attempting to reduce all of a man's behavior to "causes'" either in his "conditioning" or in his heredity - is profoundly indicative of the extent to which man is absent from and ignored by most current psychological theories. According to the view prevalent today, man i only a walking recorder into which his parents. tencners and neighbors dictate what they please-such parents. teach~rs ~d neighbors themselves being only walking recorders carrying the dictations of other, earlier recorders , and so on. As to the question of where new ideas concepts and values come from-it is left unanswered' t~e helpless chunk of putty, which allegedly is man, produces them b; VIrtue of some chance concatenation of unknown forces. It is interesting to consider the persona] confession contained in the social determinist's dismay, incr~d~Iity and indignation at the suggestion that original, selfgenerated thmkmg plays any significant role in a man's life .. In the May 1963 issue of THE OBJECTIVIST NEWSLETTER, in "The Contradiction of Determinism," I analyzed the insuperable contradictions involved in any attempt to deny that the choice to think is volitional. As to the relation of volition to the law of causality, I shall discuss it in a subsequent article. A man's freedom to focus or not to focus, to think or not to think, FEBIUAIY 1_

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entails three fundamental cognitive alternatives - alternatives in his basic pattern of cognitive functioning. (I ) A man characteristically can activate and sustain a sharp intellectual focus, seeking to bring his understanding to an optimal level of precision and clarity, with regard to any issue with which he is dealing - or he characteristically can keep his focus to the lever of blurred approximation in a tate of passive, undiscriminating, goal-less mental drifting. (2) A man characteristically can differentiate between knowledge and feelings . letting bis judgment be directed by his intellect, not his emotions - or he characteristically can suspend his intellect in the face of strong feelings (wishes or fears) and deliver himself to the direction of impulses whose validity he does not care to consider. (3) A man characteristically can perform an independent act of analysis, in weighing th~ truth or fa lsehood of any claim , or the right or wrong of any issue - or he characteristically can accept, in uncritical passivity the opinions llnd assenions of others, substituting their judgment for his own. A man's choices in these issues are crucial for the development of his character and for his mental health. But a man's choices in these issues are not determined by his social environment. They are man's inescapable responsibility. They are the source of all the greatness-and all the evilof which man is capable. .

CULTURAL BAROMETER By Barbara Branden This column will appear at irregular intervals and will give brief review of current books movies and play which are not necessarily valuable or recommended but which are indicative of today s cultural state. The purpose of this column is to observe the present direction of oUI culture by means of it best oarometer: art. MOVIES: Our Man Flint

Naturalism may be beginning to retreat from the screen before the advance of the secret-agent thrillers. OUT Man Flint is one of the best examples to date of the timid, hesitant, slightly apologetic revival of Romanticism which is taking place. Starring the highly talented James Coburn, this story of the super-super-super agent of them all is witty, ingenious. fast-moving and immensely entertaining. (Flint's mission is to thwart three master scientists who are attempting to take over the world by controlling its weather, his household staff consists of four beautiful girls. his suspenders are lined with razor blades, he engages in mortal combat with a bald anti-American eagle and he effortlessly demolishes Secret Agent OOR . ) Unlike too many Romantic thrillers-which laugh at THE OBJECTIVIST

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their hero one moment, then treat him seriously the next-Our Man Flint is openly intended as humor. Because he is not meant to be believed literally, Secret Agent Derek Flint is not required to sneer at himself; the result is a good-natured, cheerful and light-hearted movie. But, at its best, Our Man Flint represents only the dim foreshadowing of a possible return to Romanticism which deserves better than to be hidden behind a grinning comic mask. BOOKS: In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote

This book has been hailed as a masterpiece by an almost unanimous consensus of today's literati, and as the emergence of a new form of literature, the "non-fiction novel." It is the dramatized report of the actual events surrounding a "real-life" crime-and, as such, may be termed a highclass true-confession story. It is the true account of two killers who, in the course of an attempted robbery, slaughtered an innocent and helpless family, then escaped, were pursued, captured, tried, convicted and eventually hanged. The book is not without merit: it is, for the most part, well-written and structured; the author accomplishes the difficult task of creating an atmosphere of chilling suspense, despite the fact that the reader knows the outcome of the story; his treatment of the killers is often psychologically perceptive and sensitive. In its projection of moral depravity, In Cold Blood is a step beneath The Police Gazette. The reader is offered the detailed study of two men who kill without motive, without passion and without regret. One of them states, discussing the murder: "I wonder why I did it .... it wasn't because of anything the Clutters [the murdered family] did. They never hurt me. Like other people. Like people have all my life. Maybe it's just that the Clutters were the ones who had to pay for it .. .. nothing about it bothers me a bit. Half an hour after it happened, Dick was making jokes and I was laughing at them. Maybe we're not human. I'm human enough to feel sorry for myself." The author passes no moral judgment upon them, neither explicitly nor implicitly. What is clearly implied is that they-as much as the murdered family, and probably more-are victims, victims of a society that did not give them sufficient love. (Not a line of the book, which follows the killers from childhood to execution, gives even a hint of any qualities in either man that could have inspired love in anyone.) We are not expected to damn these men; we are expected to "understand"-and, of course, to forgive. This, presumably, is the way life is; this is what it makes of its "victims:" . In this book, the "slice of life" school has reached its apex. We are no longer reading about living men, in any but the strict biological. sense. What we are now presented with, for our edification and pleasure, is a slice of death. If 20th-century man stands at the brink of a new Dark Ages, and if he wishes to leave, in a time capsule, for the benefit of the men of some future FEBRUARY 1966

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civilization. onlv one book as evidence of why our civilization perished, I would nominat~ In Cold Blood-and its admiring reviews-as that legacy.

ART AND SENSE OF LIFE By Ayn Rand

OBJECTIVIST CALENDAR • On Saturday. March 12, Leonard.Peikoff ~ill ~d~re s, fh~ Denver Mensa Group. His subject: "The Metaethlcs of ObJectIVIsm. TIme : 7:30 P.M. Place: Denver Athletic Club, 1325 Glenarm Place, Denver. Open to the public; admission free. . ' . • On Monday, March 14, NATHANIEL BRAN DEN TN S:lT~JT~ W Ill be~ n a ten-lecture course on "The P ri nciples of Efficie nt Th mkmg. to be gIven by Barbar'a Branden in New York