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Atlas Shrugged - Week 3: Ch 5&6

csalvato

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THIS. Is gold here. But you don’t know it. The entire educational system in America is built on this.. and it sucks.

Teachers tell ppl what to think, how to think, what to feel, how to feel.
No one in this thread, or any other threads, are telling you what to think, how to think, what to feel, how to feel, etc.

In fact, it's pretty clear that many people are trying very hard NOT to do that.

There's a difference between having someone carry you up the mountain, and having another person guide you to the best parts of the mountain.

If you feel like anyone is carrying you up the mountain, then just hit the ignore button next to their name.

From what I can tell, you have at least 4 people in this thread looking to help everyone get the most out of the experience, and you're spitting on their feet because you want to do it all by yourself.

I wonder how that would translate over into business?
 

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lludwig

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I think we’re defining sacrifice differently.
Not in terms of Ayn Rand :)

Let me turn the question then.

How are you defining it then?

Yes, I'm using an extreme case, but there is a limit of how much sacrifice you'll do for your child.

Everyone has a limit. Love isn't sacrificial in terms of Ayn Rand.
 
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No one in this thread, or any other threads, are telling you what to think, how to think, what to feel, how to feel, etc.

In fact, it's pretty clear that many people are trying very hard NOT to do that.

There's a difference between having someone carry you up the mountain, and having another person guide you to the best parts of the mountain.

If you feel like anyone is carrying you up the mountain, then just hit the ignore button next to their name.

From what I can tell, you have at least 4 people in this thread looking to help everyone get the most out of the experience, and you're spitting on their feet because you want to do it all by yourself.

I wonder how that would translate over into business?
Now I’m spitting? Oh dude. Please forgive me if I have upset you. I never intended to do so.

I am defending my original request to not be “guided” up any mountain.

I want you to trust that the ppl participating will find the way, on their own. I would appreciate you guys from keeping us falling off the mountain though.
 

csalvato

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I initially thought yes, but I donno though.

If you listen to religion it talks about how you will be paid back... eventually. Perhaps in the afterlife even. You are sacrificing now but will be paid later. Maybe.
That doesn't redefine altruism though; that just raises the question on whether or not religions/the religious are altruistic or selfish.

By your observation, any person who is caring for the needy in this life just to get a good afterlife is not altruistic, by definition.

Then that re-raises another question from earlier: can anything truly be altruistic?

(Because I'm being bludgeoned into stating my own beliefs, I don't believe true altruism is real, and if it is, it's incredibly rare).
 
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Not in terms of Ayn Rand :)

Let me turn the question then.

How are you defining it then?

Yes, I'm using an extreme case, but there is a limit of how much sacrifice you'll do for your child.

Everyone has a limit. Love isn't sacrificial in terms of Ayn Rand.
So to read and understand this book I need to understand her definitions of love and sacrifice? Do none of her major words mean what they mean according to a dictionary?
 
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If you’re being bludgeoned it’s with love.. as defined by Webster’s. ROFL
 
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I'm not upset, it's an observation. You haven't missed an opportunity to lash out at someone who has tried to help you. Literally every single person.
Lash out? Really?

Oh goodness. You seem really upset dude. That’s a very interesting opinion. Why would ppl be thanking me and telling me I’m doing a great job in this discussion if that were true?

I think you’re hearing me try to structure and give a framework for the discussion as lashing out.. when really I’m trying to make clear boundaries for everyone participating.

Boundaries you don’t seem to appreciate even though you’ve heard many ppl argue vehemently about this book.

No ones hating the book in here. We’re all enjoying it. We’re enjoying sharing how we feel and what we glean.

You seem to be trying to tell us that we’re all in for a catastrophic glimpse into our darkest psyche or that we’ll “hate” the book or be polarized by it.

I don’t understand why you can’t just be patient and let us experience it.
 

lludwig

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That doesn't redefine altruism though; that just raises the question on whether or not religions/the religious are altruistic or selfish.

By your observation, any person who is caring for the needy in this life just to get a good afterlife is not altruistic, by definition.
As long as the afterlife is real no. If not, whoops.

Then that re-raises another question from earlier: can anything truly be altruistic?

(Because I'm being bludgeoned into stating my own beliefs, I don't believe true altruism is real, and if it is, it's incredibly rare).
Did you read that article I posted? If so, if you take how Comte defines it then there are many who are altruistic. And it is the noblest goal to achieve.

It's at the polar opposite of individualism.

One thing is for sure, after reading Rand I see the direct connection to religion and collectivism.
 

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csalvato

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It’s just, I haven’t gotten ANY pm’s from ppl who are upset about my way of doing the book discussion but I HAVE gotten pm’s from ppl who decided to stop reading because they didn’t feel comfortable sharing their insights or opinions for FEAR OF BEING TOLD WHAT TO THINK.
  1. I don't recall any instance where someone has told someone else what to think.
  2. People who are scared of being told what to think have a bigger mindset problem than you can solve by squelching a meaningful discussion.
  3. I have seen several people get told how to act, what to say, and what not to say quite a bit.
Did you read that article I posted? If so, if you take how Comte defines it then there are many who are altruistic. And it is the noblest goal to achieve.
I haven't... seems worth a read!
 

csalvato

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@lludwig Gotcha; just finished the article. Now it makes sense at why you keep talking about Rand's definition of altruism. Glad I gave it a read!
 

lludwig

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So to read and understand this book I need to understand her definitions of love and sacrifice? Do none of her major words mean what they mean according to a dictionary?
I found this comment online to help clarify:

"As someone who is married to and associates with self-proclaimed Objectivists, I have always had a problem with Rand's word choice. It's true, she uses certain words such as altruism, selfishness, and sacrifice in a manner consonant with early 19th century philosophers such as Comte. Seldom if ever, however, did she widely and openly clarify the origins of her word usage. She simply berated people who did not follow the definitions that she laid out.

The problems today arise when non-Objectivists use these words among objectivists: they are immediately barraged with hostility. I have seen frequent vitriolic arguments arise and downright violent rebuking of hapless individuals who innocently slipped the word selfishness, altruism, or sacrifice into a sentence.

Objectivists that I know locally and have observed at ARI national conventions aim to be word police, determined to restrict certain words to the ways they believe they should be used. For a group that prides itself on erudition and enlightenment, this behavior reveals their extreme narrow mindedness, lack of charity, and intellectual stultification.

Language is a fluid medium; it alters over time and its versatility should be embraced. For adherents of Ayn Rand to control how we express ourselves in language violates the very principles of freedom and free speech that they claim to advocate."
 

lludwig

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@lludwig Gotcha; just finished the article. Now it makes sense at why you keep talking about Rand's definition of altruism. Glad I gave it a read!
Which is why I'm mentioning it. :) It's a key concept of the book. I'm trying to get clear on it myself.
 
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  1. I don't recall any instance where someone has told someone else what to think.
  2. People who are scared of being told what to think have a bigger mindset problem than you can solve by squelching a meaningful discussion.
  3. I have seen several people get told how to act, what to say, and what not to say quite a bit.


I haven't... seems worth a read!
Ok. So let me reiterate.

You guys are discussing a THEME in the book.

Theme.. means it’s in the whole book not just these chapters.

All I asked was not to discuss spoilers but you insist in sharing your thoughts about the WHOLE book.

Do you understand what I mean?

I found this comment online to help clarify:

"As someone who is married to and associates with self-proclaimed Objectivists, I have always had a problem with Rand's word choice. It's true, she uses certain words such as altruism, selfishness, and sacrifice in a manner consonant with early 19th century philosophers such as Comte. Seldom if ever, however, did she widely and openly clarify the origins of her word usage. She simply berated people who did not follow the definitions that she laid out.

The problems today arise when non-Objectivists use these words among objectivists: they are immediately barraged with hostility. I have seen frequent vitriolic arguments arise and downright violent rebuking of hapless individuals who innocently slipped the word selfishness, altruism, or sacrifice into a sentence.

Objectivists that I know locally and have observed at ARI national conventions aim to be word police, determined to restrict certain words to the ways they believe they should be used. For a group that prides itself on erudition and enlightenment, this behavior reveals their extreme narrow mindedness, lack of charity, and intellectual stultification.

Language is a fluid medium; it alters over time and its versatility should be embraced. For adherents of Ayn Rand to control how we express ourselves in language violates the very principles of freedom and free speech that they claim to advocate."
This is EXTREMELY helpful but ummm.. isn’t this what you kinda did by pointing out how we need to use her words?

Cuz if you hadn’t said anything.. wouldn’t we just be using the Webster’s definition?
 

csalvato

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Ok. So let me reiterate.

You guys are discussing a THEME in the book.

Theme.. means it’s in the whole book not just these chapters.

All I asked was not to discuss spoilers but you insist in sharing your thoughts about the WHOLE book.

Do you understand what I mean?
That's not what's going on here.

This started by examining the actions of the characters, which led to a discussion on altruism as a whole including people like @BellaPippin and @Kruiser who are on their first read-through.

Is altruism a theme? Yes, it is. One that is already expressed very strongly in Chapter 1-6 through the actions of James Taggart. Seems fair game to discuss it. No one is discussing any other parts of the book.

Some people's opinions on altruism will be shaped by the rest of this book. Those who previously read are doing a great job limiting their discussion to only these 6 chapters.

It's not perfect, but I think everyone is being pretty good about it. Frankly, we're all pretty much bending over backwards to make you happy.

It's all in black and white, so you can go check for yourself.
 

csalvato

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Cuz if you hadn’t said anything.. wouldn’t we just be using the Webster’s definition?
Yes, but he's making a great point as to why you shouldn't be using Webster's definition.

This book was written in the 1940s within the context of that time. To appreciate the book, you need to understand the language as it was used in that time, and in that context; just like we need to understand how NYC looked in the 1940s, not today.

In another example, take Shakespeare. You need to understand the nuances of english in the 1500s to appreciate his plays.

For example, `Much Ado About Nothing` would have been pronounced as `Much Ado About Noting`, and back in that time, `Noting` meant gossip....so the book Much Ado About Nothing is all about gossip and the title is a crafty little pun; something that would be missed if you didn't understand how the language was used in that time.
 

lludwig

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This is EXTREMELY helpful but ummm.. isn’t this what you kinda did by pointing out how we need to use her words?

Cuz if you hadn’t said anything.. wouldn’t we just be using the Webster’s definition?
Yes on this what I did. I don’t disagree but at least make sure we all in the same page on these concepts. As to talk about the book we need to discuss these concepts.
 
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GigMistress

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Really love this book, especially a lot of the grandstanding speeches, but I feel like there's only two sorts of characters:
  • Antagonists and peripheral characters who are utterly contemptible and totally realistic
  • Protagonists that are archetypes of ideas and therefore totally unrealistic.
That's largely true, but neither Eddie nor Cheryl fits into either of those categories--there are a few others, as well--just enough to acknowledge that there is a whole mid-level class of decent people who aren't really addressed in the good/bad divide that Rand sets up.

I'm rooting for Hank and Dagny, but they're not real people. Even Lillian doesn't come off as real in the bracelet incident, which tells me she's going to be some sort of Deus Ex mechanism later in the plot.

Only positive person that comes off as kinda real is Francisco, but even he's an archetype. I think Ayn Rand was just visualizing her perfect crush, and the result is the character of Francisco. Don't get me wrong, she clearly has good taste in men, but damn.
Another aspect of this lack of realism is that each and every one of her talented, successful characters is also heavily weighted with honesty and integrity. She attempts to set them up to show how much better things would be if government and people like Jim Taggart got out of the way and let them have free reign, but they're all "my word is my bond" sort of people, which certainly doesn't universally characterize today's success stories (and very probably didn't then)
 

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lludwig

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Another aspect of this lack of realism is that each and every one of her talented, successful characters is also heavily weighted with honesty and integrity. She attempts to set them up to show how much better things would be if government and people like Jim Taggart got out of the way and let them have free reign, but they're all "my word is my bond" sort of people, which certainly doesn't universally characterize today's success stories (and very probably didn't then)
In re-reading it, I have to disagree with that as Hank is a very flawed person. He certainly isn't perfect by any means.
 
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That's not what's going on here.

This started by examining the actions of the characters, which led to a discussion on altruism as a whole including people like @BellaPippin and @Kruiser who are on their first read-through.

Is altruism a theme? Yes, it is. One that is already expressed very strongly in Chapter 1-6 through the actions of James Taggart. Seems fair game to discuss it. No one is discussing any other parts of the book.

Some people's opinions on altruism will be shaped by the rest of this book. Those who previously read are doing a great job limiting their discussion to only these 6 chapters.

It's not perfect, but I think everyone is being pretty good about it. Frankly, we're all pretty much bending over backwards to make you happy.

It's all in black and white, so you can go check for yourself.
Why in the world would anyone “bend over backwards” to make me happy? I can’t kick you out. ROFL.

Yes, but he's making a great point as to why you shouldn't be using Webster's definition.

This book was written in the 1940s within the context of that time. To appreciate the book, you need to understand the language as it was used in that time, and in that context; just like we need to understand how NYC looked in the 1940s, not today.

In another example, take Shakespeare. You need to understand the nuances of english in the 1500s to appreciate his plays.

For example, `Much Ado About Nothing` would have been pronounced as `Much Ado About Noting`, and back in that time, `Noting` meant gossip....so the book Much Ado About Nothing is all about gossip and the title is a crafty little pun; something that would be missed if you didn't understand how the language was used in that time.
Ok so lemme get this straight. I decided to read a book. I invited ppl to discuss it.

At no point did you or anyone else who had read the book say that I wouldn’t be able to understand it without a glossary of terms.

The book isn’t sold with Ayn Rand’s definitions.. do you think it should be?

I’ve already asked this question and had it answered btw.
Do you have a glossary of terms for her that doesn’t spoil the whole book for us,
Perhaps read the book first :)

You can understand the book without understanding Objectivism or her terms.
Would you like to be in charge of the glossary for us then @csalvato ?

Do we need to be educated about her terms and her ideas BEFORE reading so we might gain the wisdom to understand this modern book written in modern day English?

Surely if Rand is just like Shakespeare.. then we will find NO enjoyment whatsoever from her book without understanding her definitions. It’s not like anyone has ever enjoyed Shakespeare without understanding his every word.. oh wait. Lol. They have.

Sigh. I don’t know why this is hard for you.

Dude you’re trying to help. I get it.

It’s week 3 and you’re trying to explain her whole philosophy and all her terms and her “real” meaning. You want us to think seriously and dig deep. So do I.

Maybe you wish to be the leader? You wanna run this thing your way? It’s a book you love.. you can you know. I don’t mind.

I don’t want you to feel like I’m picking on you or anyone. This conversation hasn’t been upsetting or stressful or anything negative at all to me but you seem very upset.

I just want to have fun and enjoy the book and have deep conversations with people who are sharing their feelings... not textbook material or stuff they learned about Ayn Rand.. I want to hear how we can all connect to the book.

Maybe it would be better if I was a participant instead of the leader. Maybe you wouldn’t feel like you’re having to conform to some impossible method. Then you could explain your way to approach this book or have this discussion.
 

lludwig

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That's not what's going on here.

This started by examining the actions of the characters, which led to a discussion on altruism as a whole including people like @BellaPippin and @Kruiser who are on their first read-through.

Is altruism a theme? Yes, it is. One that is already expressed very strongly in Chapter 1-6 through the actions of James Taggart. Seems fair game to discuss it. No one is discussing any other parts of the book.

Some people's opinions on altruism will be shaped by the rest of this book.
Exactly my point. It's a central tenant of this book and it's been already touched by the characters a number of times already.

There are all sorts of discussions around this topic and within the book itself. Like:
  1. Is it evil to be altruistic? (James Taggart)
  2. Should you be always selfish? (Dagny)
  3. Is it wrong to seek the profit motive? (Dagny and Hank)
  4. Are you sacrificing yourself for the sake of others and in the process of giving them power against you? (Dangy Taggart & Fransico Danconia)
  5. Is someone who has a "good heart" but philosophically wrong evil? (James Taggart)
  6. Is love a sacrifice? (Hank and Lillian)
Rand continues to bash you over the head (IMHO) about this topic of altruism and then hits you over the head some more.

The book is a philosophy book wrapped around fiction. The characters are a means to describe this philosophy. This why others have said "this book has changed their life" (rightly or wrongly) because of this reason. Comparing to most fiction isn't the right way of thinking about this book.
 
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lludwig

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FYI, this is why I'm reading it the now third time.

There are things I'm noticing I didn't notice the first read. Not because I'm stupid or need a dictionary but I have a better grasp on the topics discussed when I didn't the first time around.

The point isn't to be a teacher but to tell what I've learned and got out of it.

Though since I have read it twice already to point out items that should be pointed out. Because they will be mentioned again and again and again.

This is, after all, a discussion about the book right???

If you don't want us to discuss the philosophy of the book then this discussion is silly and moot.
 

csalvato

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Why in the world would anyone “bend over backwards” to make me happy? I can’t kick you out. ROFL.



Ok so lemme get this straight. I decided to read a book. I invited ppl to discuss it.

At no point did you or anyone else who had read the book say that I wouldn’t be able to understand it without a glossary of terms.

The book isn’t sold with Ayn Rand’s definitions.. do you think it should be?

I’ve already asked this question and had it answered btw.




Would you like to be in charge of the glossary for us then @csalvato ?

Do we need to be educated about her terms and her ideas BEFORE reading so we might gain the wisdom to understand this modern book written in modern day English?

Surely if Rand is just like Shakespeare.. then we will find NO enjoyment whatsoever from her book without understanding her definitions. It’s not like anyone has ever enjoyed Shakespeare without understanding his every word.. oh wait. Lol. They have.

Sigh. I don’t know why this is hard for you.

Dude you’re trying to help. I get it.

It’s week 3 and you’re trying to explain her whole philosophy and all her terms and her “real” meaning. You want us to think seriously and dig deep. So do I.

Maybe you wish to be the leader? You wanna run this thing your way? It’s a book you love.. you can you know. I don’t mind.

I don’t want you to feel like I’m picking on you or anyone. This conversation hasn’t been upsetting or stressful or anything negative at all to me but you seem very upset.

I just want to have fun and enjoy the book and have deep conversations with people who are sharing their feelings... not textbook material or stuff they learned about Ayn Rand.. I want to hear how we can all connect to the book.

Maybe it would be better if I was a participant instead of the leader. Maybe you wouldn’t feel like you’re having to conform to some impossible method. Then you could explain your way to approach this book or have this discussion.
You do you. I think we can conclude this line of conversation as “agree to disagree” or something.
 
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  1. Is it evil to be altruistic? (James Taggart)
  2. Should you be always selfish? (Dagny)
  3. Is it wrong to seek the profit motive? (Dagny and Hank)
  4. Are you sacrificing yourself for the sake of others and in the process of giving them power against you? (Dangy Taggart & Fransico Danconia)
  5. Is someone who has a "good heart" but philosophically wrong evil? (James Taggart)
  6. Is love a sacrifice? (Hank and Lillian)
Are these questions you want answered? Because I think they assume stuff that is contradictory.

1. This assumes that James is altruistic but you guys just spent half a day saying that Rand’s definition isn’t the normal one.

2. This assumes Dagny is being selfish.

3. This assumes that their motive is profit.

4. You’ve already said her definition isn’t the same as ours so again we’d have to either conform ourselves to Rand’s definition or answer the question based on the actual definition.

5. This assumes James has a good heart.

6. This assumes that Hank and Lillian love each other.

The book is a philosophy book wrapped around fiction. The characters are a means to describe this philosophy. This why others have said "this book has changed their life" (rightly or wrongly) because of this reason. Comparing to most fiction isn't the right way of thinking about this book.
So the way I want to proceed would be by discussing it as a work of fiction. But there’s nothing wrong with you guys starting a book discussion about the philosophy.

FYI, this is why I'm reading it the now third time.

There are things I'm noticing I didn't notice the first read. Not because I'm stupid or need a dictionary but I have a better grasp on the topics discussed when I didn't the first time around.

The point isn't to be a teacher but to tell what I've learned and got out of it.

Though since I have read it twice already to point out items that should be pointed out. Because they will be mentioned again and again and again.

This is, after all, a discussion about the book right???

If you don't want us to discuss the philosophy of the book then this discussion is silly and moot.
It’s a completely different type of discussion than one would expect from a bunch of ppl gathering together to discuss a book AFTER they’ve read it.

You do you.
I have been. People seemed to want to hang out with me while I do so.

I’m really glad we got to talk this out today. It helped me to figure out a bunch of stuff.

If Atlas Shrugged is Rand’s story version of Mein Kampf no wonder it bugs so many ppl! Still, Mein Kampf is an important book to read. Lol.

*goes out to have some tea on the back porch for a while
 

lludwig

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Are these questions you want answered? Because I think they assume stuff that is contradictory.
These are items I'm posing as some of the topics already brought up by Rand in the book.

I'll let you decide the answers since I'm not telling you how to think..remember.

So the way I want to proceed would be by discussing it as a work of fiction. But there’s nothing wrong with you guys starting a book discussion about the philosophy.
That's the thing... it's on every. single. page.

To discuss just the story... is boring. It doesn't get into the meat of this book. Even for the first read.
 

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5. This assumes James has a good heart.
Though let me use this as an example to discuss what I mean and how it circles back to altruism (that damn topic again).

James has stated so far that he built the Mexican line to help the poor people. They needed that line, even though no-one used it. That he believed the Mexicans would never nationalize the line and how dare his sister to only put the worst equipment on that line.

By all of these intentions so far you can conclude he's trying to help others. That he's sacrificing his company for the good of others. It's not all about profit as he said to his sister.

But is he evil for it because he hurt himself, his shareholders, and his sister in the process?

Do his altruistic actions make him an evil person?

If you don't want to discuss these topics in this fashion, then I'm out. You'll completely miss the point of this book IMHO and I have better things to do.
 
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Primeperiwinkle

Primeperiwinkle

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These are items I'm posing as some of the topics already brought up by Rand in the book.

I'll let you decide the answers since I'm not telling you how to think..remember.



That's the thing... it's on every. single. page.

To discuss just the story... is boring. It doesn't get into the meat of this book. Even for the first read.
But you’re not asking YOUR questions. You’re creating topics for us to discuss that YOU see.

Several ppl have commented that we’re reading the book much deeper than they did on their first read through. I think we will get into these as time goes on.

We’re going to be discussing every week for months.

If you think we’re missing these topics or that we’re being boring.. I get that. I do.

Sometimes book discussions like these ARE boring because.. not everyone wants to share or commit to talking about what they’re struggling with in a book. Even you haven’t said what you found disturbing or perplexing, yet. You’ve just proposed questions for us to talk about..
Let us fall in love a bit first? Please?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ AT THIS POINT you posted

Though let me use this as an example to discuss what I mean and how it circles back to altruism (that damn topic again).

James has stated so far that he built the Mexican line to help the poor people. They needed that line, even though no-one used it. That he believed the Mexicans would never nationalize the line and how dare his sister to only put the worst equipment on that line.

By all of these intentions so far you can conclude he's trying to help others. That he's sacrificing his company for the good of others. It's not all about profit as he said to his sister.

But is he evil for it because he hurt himself, his shareholders, and his sister in the process?

Do his altruistic actions make him an evil person?

If you don't want to discuss these topics in this fashion, then I'm out. You'll completely miss the point of this book IMHO and I have better things to do.
NOW I wanna discuss this because YOU shared your thoughts.

“By all of these intentions so far you can conclude he's trying to help others.”

I didn’t conclude that, at all. So every question after it doesn’t make sense to me.

I concluded that he’s a liar. His actions don’t lead me to believe he cares about his company in any way whatsoever.. I don’t need to debate whether or not he’s evil based on his supposed altruism, I’ve already judged him as untrustworthy and corrupt for the slack a$$ job he did taking care of his company in a million other ways.
 

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