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RandAyn Rand and Objectivism (2011)

Ayn Rand began a movement known as objectivism. A 1991 survey of 5,000 Book-of-the-Month club members asked its readers which book had influenced them the most. Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged came in second placed, right after the Bible. Rand is also regarded as one of the founding forces behind American libertarianism. Therefore, I would like to analyze her philosophy in the light of mental symmetry. I have taken my information mainly from Wikipedia’s articles on Ayn Rand and Objectivism as well as from  a collection of several hundred quotes from her books found here. While Wikipedia is not the most academic of sources, it provides a great starting point, plus I will back up my statements with extensive quotes from Ayn Rand herself.

I should also mention that I did not know any details about either Rand or her work before writing this essay. I had heard about her and I knew in general terms about her ideas, but I had not looked at her philosophy in detail or read any of her books. Therefore, if we find that Ayn Rand and the theory of mental symmetry are saying similar things, then I suggest that this provides additional independent confirmation for the mental model of mental symmetry. 

This essay assumes that the reader is familiar with the mental circuit of practical Contributor thought. For those who needs a quick review, please look at the beginning of the essay on Ludwig von Mises.

Rand and Personal Identity

It is rather easy to conclude that Rand was a Contributor person. I have suggested that Contributor strategy exists in one of two forms: practical Contributor thought and intellectual Contributor thought. Practical Contributor thought is associated with goal oriented behavior, and this describes the mode of thought upon which Rand focuses. Science, in contrast, uses intellectual Contributor thought. Generally speaking, Rand has been far better received by practical individuals such as businessmen and athletes than by the academic world. In particular, philosophers have largely dismissed Rand’s ideas and have marginalized her philosophy.

I suggest that the academic rejection of Rand makes sense for three basic reasons. First, Rand used a different mode of thought than the academic world. She emphasized practical Contributor thought; the academic world uses intellectual Contributor thought. Second, it appears that Rand uses practical Contributor thought to override intellectual Contributor thought. Ci (or intellectual Contributor thought) is guided by Teacher emotions. It searches for universal Teacher understanding. Rand basically describes Cp (practical Contributor thought) as the only legitimate form of human thought. In other words, she programs Teacher strategy with the universal theory that practical Contributor thought is the highest form of human thought, thus hijacking Ci and turning it into a mental servant of Cp. When a person uses intellectual thought as a tool for supporting practical thought, then it makes sense that such a person would be viewed as anti-intellectual. As a result, even though Rand makes a number of very perceptive comments, her concepts often lack academic depth. Third, Rand makes the ‘mistake’ of focusing upon personal Mercy feelings. Science, in contrast, attempts to protect Perceiver facts by remaining objective. It is driven by Teacher feelings of universal understanding and not by personal emotions of Mercy identity. Therefore, when a scientist reads the novels of Ayn Rand, they appear at first glance to be like cheap thriller romances—full of subjective emotion.

In a previous essay, I looked at the relationship between Ludwig von Mises the economist and the operation of Cp. Rand knew von Mises and strongly endorsed his writings throughout her career. Von Mises once referred to Rand as ‘the most courageous man in America.’ Rand appreciated being called a man, and we will look at the reason for that later on.

If we compare von Mises with Ayn Rand, we see that both use Cp, a mental circuit that is driven by personal subjective Mercy emotions. However, while von Mises admits that value lies at the core of economics and that value is a personal subjective emotion, he then steps back from dealing with personal feeling and limits his analysis largely to the external forms of value. Ayn Rand, in contrast, faces her personal emotional identity head on and builds her philosophy directly upon this subjective core.

We can see this contrast by comparing the ways in which von Mises and Rand deal with personal identity and value. I have mentioned elsewhere that practical Contributor thought is based upon a mental map of value. Value requires a combination of Perceiver facts and Mercy emotions. Reviewing briefly, the desirability of a certain location or object within this mental map comes from Mercy feelings: I like ice cream; I hate living in a high rise. The connections between these various Mercy experiences is provided by Perceiver facts: Ice cream is cold, hot fudge is hot. Ice cream is creamy; mashed potatoes also have a creamy texture. As with any map, the most critical feature is my present location: You are here. Mentally speaking, my location within the map defines my self-image; it describes my personal identity.

For von Mises, the fundamental concept is private property. In other words, instead of defining me, von Mises defines mine. In Liberalism, he says, “The foundation of any and every civilization, including our own, is private ownership of the means of production. Whoever wishes to criticize modern civilization, therefore, begins with private property.”

Rand, in contrast, says that the primary concept is personal identity, me, I: “I am done with the monster of ‘We’, the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame. This god, this one word ‘I.’”

She describes this more extensively elsewhere: "Every form of happiness is private. Our greatest moments are personal, self-motivated, not to be touched. The things which are sacred or precious to us are the things we withdraw from promiscuous sharing. But now we are taught to throw everything within us into public light and common pawing. To seek joy in meeting halls. We haven't even got a word for the quality I mean--for the self-sufficiency of man's spirit. It's difficult to call it selfishness or egotism, the words have been perverted, they've come to mean Peter Keating. Gail, I think the only cardinal evil on earth is that of placing your prime concern within other men. I've always demanded a certain quality in the people I liked. I've always recognized it at once--and it's the only quality I respect in men. I chose my friends by that. Now I know what it is. A self-sufficient ego. Nothing else matters."

Like von Mises, Rand starts with subjective personal private Mercy emotions. But, while von Mises externalizes this to talk about money, the external symbol of value, Rand defines personal identity itself. For her, what matters is a ‘self-sufficient ego.’ Just as von Mises states that mine is the foundation of economic value, so Rand says that me is ‘the only gauge of human virtue and value’: “Degrees of ability vary, but the basic principle remains the same: the degree of a man's independence, initiative and personal love for his work determines his talent as a worker and his worth as a man. Independence is the only gauge of human virtue and value. What a man is and makes of himself; not what he has or hasn't done for others. There is no substitute for personal dignity. There is no standard of personal dignity except independence." The Fountainhead.

Note that Rand, a Contributor person, goes beyond the normal Perceiver definition of self-image. For a Perceiver person, self-image is defined by the collection of Perceiver facts which describe ‘me’. Contributor strategy, however, connects Perceiver content with Server content. When using Cp, this means adding Server actions to Perceiver facts of value. Therefore, Rand defines self-image not just as what a person is, but also as what he does. But, simply defining self-image as what a person does is a Server concept. And, Contributor combines Server and Perceiver. Therefore, what really matters to the Contributor person is what a person does as an individual person. However, what lies at the core of Contributor self-image is personal choice, for Contributor strategy is the part of the mind that chooses. Therefore, for the practical Contributor, self-image is defined by ‘what a man is and makes of himself’ and the core of this is ‘personal dignity’, and the standard of personal dignity is ‘independence’.

For the Contributor person, conscious thought is very closely related to will and choice: “Free will lies in the choice: to think or not to think. Thinking is not automatic. Man can focus or drift.” And, when it comes to business and practical Contributor thought, the essence of Contributor thought and choice involves the exchange: “The symbol of all relationships among such men, the moral symbol of respect for human beings, is the trade…A trader is a man who earns what he gets and does not give or take the undeserved.” Atlas Shrugged.

Recapitulating, personal identity begins with ‘I’ and personal subjective emotions within Mercy strategy. These Mercy memories provide the raw experiential material for identity. Perceiver thought then distinguishes my personal Mercy experiences from other Mercy experiences, leading to a separation between ‘me’, other people, and experiences in general. This Perceiver processing leads to a static definition of self-image, which is where the Perceiver person often stops. Contributor strategy adds to this two other elements: Server actions and Contributor choice. Not just ‘me’, but what I do. Not merely what I do, but what I choose to do. The result is something which is greater than the sum of the parts: the ‘self-made man’, the individual who has picked himself up by the bootstraps and has become someone. The individual with such a Contributor self-image has ‘the right stuff’; he has an aura of self-sufficiency. The Contributor person likes to project this aura and he is instinctively drawn to other individuals who possess a Contributor self-image.

For Rand, the concept of Contributor self-image actually turns into a form of religion: “Many words have been granted me, and some are wise, and some are false, but only three are holy: "I will it!" Anthem.

This also defines the ultimate Teacher theory for Rand: “My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.” Atlas Shrugged. Thus, Rand takes the concept of Contributor self-image, lifts up this sort of person as the most important individual in Mercy thought and also defines this concept within Teacher strategy as a general philosophy.

Rand’s definition of human behavior is basically a description of the circuit of practical Contributor thought: “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 know what he is and where he is – i.e. he must know his own nature (including his means of knowledge) and the nature of the universe in which he acts – i.e. he needs metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, which means: philosophy. He cannot escape from this need; his only alternative is whether the philosophy guiding him is to be chosen by his mind or by chance.” Translating this into the terminology of mental symmetry, living as a human requires Server actions. Server thought is connected to Contributor strategy which chooses. Contributor thought bases its choices upon a Perceiver map of value. In order to use a Perceiver map of value, one must define self-image and one must understand how Perceiver knowledge can be gained.

Now that we have the big picture, let us look at some of the details.

Rand and Morality

We have just seen that practical Contributor strategy builds a self image that is based upon personal cause and effect. When a self image is based upon what I have done, this creates a strong sense of personal morality: Because I have done this, I am a good person. Because I have done that, I am a bad person. Rand talks a lot about morality, makes a number of moral judgments, and goes to great lengths to define her concept of morality.  

Before we look at Rand’s view of morality, let us review the mental mechanism behind conscience. Conscience is related to practical Contributor thought, which is based upon a mental foundation provided by Perceiver thought. Rand describes Perceiver thought quite accurately: “To form a concept, one mentally isolates a group of concretes (of distinct perceptual units), on the basis of observed similarities which distinguish them from all other known concretes (similarity is ‘the relationship between two or more existents which possess the same characteristic(s), but in different measure or degree’); then, by a process of omitting the particular measurements of these concretes, one integrates them into a single new mental unit: the concept, which subsumes all concretes of this kind (a potentially unlimited number). The integration is completed and retained by the selection of a perceptual symbol (a word) to designate it. ‘A concept is a mental integration of two or more units possessing the same distinguishing characteristic(s), with their particular measurements omitted.’” In other words, Perceiver thought divides Mercy experiences into categories based upon similarities and differences. It distinguishes one Mercy experience from another by noticing how they are different, and it groups Mercy experiences together by looking for elements which they have in common. 

As Rand describes, Perceiver strategy organizes Mercy experiences into different categories and objects. When these Mercy experiences involve ‘me’, then the result is a Perceiver self-image, as described a few paragraphs back. If Contributor thought adds Server actions to Perceiver facts, then the result is a sense of cause and effect. I suggest that conscience and morality emerge when both of these additional factors are present: personal Mercy experiences and Server actions. But, we just saw that this same combination produces Contributor self-image. Thus, it appears that conscience and Contributor self-image are inextricably linked.

For instance, Perceiver thought will distinguish birds from humans: birds have wings; humans have legs. Perceiver self image will add the personal Mercy element: I am a human; I am not a bird. Cause and effect adds a sense of Server sequence: If I throw an object off the cliff, then it will fall to the bottom. Contributor self-image modifies Perceiver self image through the addition of Server action: I am a human; I can walk but I cannot fly. A bird can fly. Conscience combines these two elements: If I jump off the cliff, then I will fall to the bottom and get hurt because I am a human and not a bird. Guilt occurs when I violate a rule of conscience: I am a human; I cannot fly; I jumped off the cliff and hurt myself; I am guilty. Satisfaction uses the same circuit to achieve positive results: I am a human; humans can walk; I successfully walked down the cliff; I accomplished something. Contributor self image is based in this sense of accomplishment: I did something. I made myself into something.

Notice the contrast between science, economics and the objectivism of Rand. All are rooted in practical Contributor thought. Therefore all have a sense of cause and effect. But, they each treat cause and effect in a different way. Science examines natural cause and effect without adding the subjective personal element: It starts by recognizing that an object which is thrown off the cliff will fall to the bottom. But, instead of looking at the specific object or person which tumbles to the bottom, it will focus upon the Server path taken by the object as it falls and compare this Server path with other Server paths. The ultimate goal of science is to use these Server sequences to build a general Teacher understanding of science. In this way, natural cause and effect becomes the raw material for building scientific theories using Ci, or intellectual Contributor thought. This process is discussed further in my look at Thomas Kuhn and science.

Economics, in contrast, does care about the identity of the object that falls over the cliff. It adds the personal Mercy element to the principle of natural cause and effect: Here is an opportunity. If I invest my money here, then my level of personal wealth will rise. There is a potential economic cliff. It is very risky to put my money there, because the value of my investment may fall and I may lose all of my money at the ‘bottom of the cliff’. However, economics externalizes the principles of personal cause and effect, replacing ‘me’ with ‘mine’. Therefore, what ‘falls off the cliff’ is not ‘me’ but rather mine. I may be fine, but my money will disappear.

As a result, both science and economics can avoid the issue of conscience and personal morality. Science avoids morality by suppressing personal Mercy feelings; economics avoids morality by ignoring ‘me’ and focusing solely upon ‘mine’.

Ayn Rand, in contrast, does apply Contributor cause and effect to subjective personal identity. Therefore, she ends up with morality, talks about morality, and defines morality. This means that objectivism has to come up with a way of addressing feelings of guilt and personal responsibility.

Morality, by definition, labels people as better or worse. Unlike today’s typical political correctness, Rand was quite willing to apply labels to individuals: “A genius is a genius, regardless of the number of morons who belong to the same race - and a moron is a moron, regardless of the number of geniuses who share his racial origin.” The Virtue of Selfishness.

However, Rand also makes it very clear what she does and does not accept as a moral code.

According to Rand, “Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity.” So, what does Rand define as ‘morally good’? Pursuing a positive personal Mercy goal by using the mental circuit of practical Contributor thought.

Practical Contributor thought is based in personal identity. Unless me is defined, it is impossible to follow goal-oriented behavior, just as using a physical map is impossible if you do not know your current location. In one of Rand’s most famous quotes, the character in her novel states: “I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”

Cp is guided by a mental Perceiver map of value, in which Perceiver strategy uses knowledge and facts to build connections between emotional Mercy experiences. Rand states that a person is only morally responsible to the extent that he has constructed a mental map of value: “Learn to distinguish the difference between errors of knowledge and breaches of morality. An error of knowledge is not a moral flaw, provided you are willing to correct it; only a mystic would judge human beings by the standard of an impossible, automatic omniscience. But a breach of morality is the conscious choice of an action you know to be evil, or a willful evasion of knowledge, a suspension of sight and of thought. That which you do not know, is not a moral charge against you; but that which you refuse to know, is an account of infamy growing in your soul. Make every allowance for errors of knowledge; do not forgive or accept any break of morality." Atlas Shrugged.

Using the language of mental symmetry, Rand states that if Perceiver strategy has inadequate knowledge, then a person is not morally responsible for his actions, as long as he responds to personal failure by learning Perceiver facts and by accepting what is true. In religious terms, a person is ‘forgiven’ for personal failure if he responds to personal failure with personal honesty. However, if a person reacts to personal failure by suppressing Perceiver truth, or by refusing to use Perceiver thought, then he is morally guilty.

Both mental symmetry and the Christian theologian would concur that this is the correct way of addressing moral failure. Mental symmetry says that an adult personal identity is based upon a mental foundation of Perceiver truth and personal honesty. Similarly, Christianity teaches that in order to become a Christian, a ‘sinner’ must admit his personal failures and be honest about himself. And the Bible also teaches that the individual who knows more is held to a higher standard of personal accountability. What Rand is missing, I suggest, is the other side of the equation. Solving the problem of moral failure requires an interaction between Cp and Ci. Rand describes the Cp part of the equation—personal honesty, but is only partially aware of what Ci provides.

What does Ci (intellectual Contributor thought) provide? This is described in detail in my analysis of Christianity. However, I suggest that at this initial stage of personal honesty, Ci adds two essential factors: First, it balances the Mercy pain of personal honesty with the Teacher pleasure of general understanding. To some extent, Rand comprehends this because she is presenting her system of objectivism as a general Teacher theory. Second, Ci brings Teacher pleasure to the process of personal rebirth by lifting it up as a Teacher paradigm. Again, Rand partially grasps this when she talks about personal honesty being used to develop a new way of personal operation that is guided by knowledge.

How do these two factors relate to Christianity? First, when a general Teacher theory touches personal identity, it generates an image of God. Therefore, using Christian language, God becomes pleased with me when I respond to personal failure with personal honesty. Second, lifting up the process of personal rebirth as a Teacher paradigm is mentally equivalent to stating that the name of Jesus is above all other names, a connection which is made explicitly in the second chapter of Philippians.

Moving from internal to external, Rand declares that the only moral society is one which permits and encourages the use of practical Contributor thought. As I mention in my look at Ludwig von Mises and economics, this type of society describes the economic system of pure capitalism. In the words of Rand, “Laissez-faire capitalism is the only moral social system.”

Rand and Mercy Idolatry

Rand also makes it clear what morality is not. First, she distances herself from what I call Mercy idolatry. The Wikipedia article on objectivism describes this distinction very clearly: “There is a difference between rational self-interest as a pursuit of one's own life and happiness in reality, and whim-worship or ‘hedonism’. A whim-worshiper or ‘hedonist,’ according to Rand, is not motivated by a desire to live his own human life, but by a wish to live on a sub-human level. Instead of using ‘that which promotes my (human) life’ as his standard of value, he mistakes ‘that which I (mindlessly happen to) value’ for a standard of value, in contradiction of the fact that, existentially, he is a human and therefore rational organism. The ‘I value’ in whim-worship or hedonism can be replaced with ‘we value,’ ‘he values,’ ‘they value,’ or ‘God values,’ and still it would remain dissociated from reality. Rand repudiated the equation of rational selfishness with hedonistic or whim-worshiping ‘selfishness-without-a-self.’ She held that the former is good, and the latter evil, and that there is a fundamental difference between them.”

Let us restate this using the terminology of mental symmetry. Rational self-interest is ‘rational’ because it uses Perceiver thought to define ‘me’. In contrast, Mercy idolatry uses emotional defining experiences to mesmerize Perceiver thought into ‘knowing’ what is true, especially when it comes to ‘knowing’ Perceiver facts about ‘me’. For such a person, emotional Mercy experiences actually define self-image: When a desirable Mercy experience comes along, the strong Mercy experiences fool Perceiver thought into ‘believing’ that ‘me’ and this experience belong together. This Mercy idolatry leads to ‘whim-worship’ and hedonism, for once Perceiver thought ‘believes’ that ‘me’ and a desirable Mercy experience belong together, then Mercy thought is free to identity with that good Mercy experience, and once Mercy strategy identifies with this object or experience, then Server strategy will reach out and try to grab it.

As Rand accurately points out, a mind that is programmed by Mercy idolatry does not actually have a self-image, because it lacks the Perceiver confidence that is needed to define ‘me’. For such an individual, the Perceiver ‘facts’ which temporarily define self image are acquired ‘hypnotically’ from people with emotional status such as ‘we’, ‘them’, or ‘God’. (Perceiver thought can also be mesmerized by traumatic or ecstatic Mercy experiences as well as by people with emotional status.) In contrast, rational self-interest uses Perceiver thought to define ‘me’, which requires gaining the Perceiver confidence that is required to figure out which Mercy experiences really belong to ‘me’ and which do not.

Summarizing, Rand recognizes the difference between childish Mercy identity and the adult form of personal identity that emerges when Perceiver facts are used to define ‘me’ and practical Contributor thought is used to improve ‘me’. And, what she says when comparing these two forms of personal identity is consistent with both mental symmetry and Biblical Christianity.

Rand and Christianity

If that is the case, then why is Rand so strongly anti-God and anti-Christian? Because, I suggest that she is rebelling against the Christianity of blind faith, a holy book type of religion which mental symmetry views as an intermediate form of learning which can lead from Mercy idolatry through Teacher idolatry to rational personal identity. As Thomas Kuhn mentions in his analysis of science, and as every primary school teacher will tell you, students initially approach learning from the viewpoint of blind faith in a teacher combined with worship for the ‘holy book’ from which the Teacher instructs.

Mental symmetry suggests that it is possible to present the doctrines of Christianity in terms of a general Teacher theory or paradigm. When any system of thought is presented as a Teacher based paradigm, then it becomes possible to move beyond holy book mentality to textbook thinking. A holy book is held together by defining Mercy emotions and blind faith; a textbook is given coherence by the integrated general Teacher theory that it describes. One of the goals of mental symmetry is to make it possible for Christianity to move beyond blind faith and holy book mentality to rational thought and textbook thinking. Notice that mental symmetry is not trying to change the content of Christianity. In fact, the theory of mental symmetry provides rather stunning independent confirmation for the content of Christianity. But, what mental symmetry does want to overturn is the method of Christianity—all of the Mercy-based religious crud which accompanies holy books and blind faith. In addition, mental symmetry is not trying to disprove the Bible. On the contrary, the Bible appears to be so far ahead of its time that it is reasonable to suggest that it has a supernatural origin. But, what mental symmetry opposes is worshipping the Bible, because the person who worships the Bible is usually the one who is most crippled at either analyzing or understanding what the Bible says.

Why does Rand hate a religion of blind faith? Because blind faith is always accompanied by an attitude of self-denial, and self-denial disables practical Contributor thought. This is described in detail elsewhere so I will summarize here. In order to mesmerize Perceiver thought into ‘knowing’ what is true, the emotional Mercy status of my source of ‘truth’ must be much greater than the Mercy status of ‘me’. If the emotional status of ‘me’ increases too much, then I will start to think for myself and I will begin to doubt the words of the expert. (Alternatively, if I begin thinking for myself, then this will raise my personal status, leading to the same condition of Perceiver doubt.) Saying this in religious terms, I will only ‘believe’ that my holy book is the ‘word of God’ if I feel that the person who wrote the Bible is far more important than I am. That is why worshipping the Bible prevents a person from understanding the Bible.

But, practical Contributor thought (Cp) is based upon the premise that it is possible to improve ‘me’. Therefore, self denial by its very nature suppresses Cp, for if Cp ever begins to function, then this will raise my personal status and cause me to doubt my blind faith in the words of my holy book. In other words, the self-denial that accompanies blind faith is the mortal enemy of practical Contributor thought.

In the words of Rand: “For centuries, the battle of morality was fought between those who claimed that your life belongs to God and those who claimed that it belongs to your neighbors - between those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of ghosts in heaven and those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of incompetents on earth. And no one came to say that your life belongs to you and that the good is to live it.” In other words, historically speaking there have been two emotional sources of blind faith: the Important Person known as God, and human authorities who claim to be the source of Perceiver ‘truth’—who typically have also used their Mercy status as an excuse for avoiding personal growth, because they feel that they are too important for Perceiver truth to apply to them.

Rand rejects traditional religion along with the concept of God because it suppresses practical Contributor thought. Mental symmetry, in contrast, takes the beliefs of Christianity and places them within the Teacher package of a paradigm, making it possible to integrate God, religion, and practical Contributor thought.

Rand and Incarnation

But Ayn Rand does have a general Teacher theory which applies to personal Mercy identity: it is the theory that all humans either are practical Contributor persons or they need to learn how to become practical Contributor persons. For Rand, the concept of becoming an individual describes deity: “And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. This god, this one word: ‘I.’”

Starting from her mental basis in practical Contributor thought, with its ability to come up with plans and turn them into reality, Rand views God as the ultimate planner and realizer. But, using this definition of God, when she looks at the Gods of organized religion, Rand concludes that they describe a plan that is unreachable by practical Contributor thought: “God... a being whose only definition is that he is beyond man's power to conceive.”

Because this image of God is unreachable, Rand rejects it, for it contradicts her image of God which is based in practical Contributor thought. “Because, you see, God—whatever anyone chooses to call God—is one's highest conception of the highest possible. And whoever places his highest conception above his own possibility thinks very little of himself and his life. It's a rare gift, you know, to feel reverence for your own life and to want the best, the greatest, the highest possible, here, now, for your very own. To imagine a heaven and then not to dream of it, but to demand it.”

That brings us to the Christian concept of incarnation, which neither Rand nor the Christian practicing blind faith appear to understand. Incarnation says that Jesus is both God and man. Blind faith Christianity may verbally assent to this doctrine, but as Rand observes, it acts as if Jesus is far above normal human existence. Therefore, Rand reacts by modifying the concept of incarnation to state that there is no God, that the Contributor person is Jesus, and that Jesus is God. Doctrinally speaking, Rand is half right, because the behavior of Jesus the man indicates that he was a Contributor person and the name ‘Jesus’ means salvation. Ayn Rand is presenting practical Contributor thought as the savior of mankind. Similarly, the Bible states that in order to become the savior of mankind, Jesus lived as a Contributor person within practical Contributor thought. It is this concept of Jesus the man which Rand appears to grasp better than the blind faith Christian.

What Rand is missing is the other half of the equation, which is the role played by intellectual Contributor thought. Intellectual Contributor thought works with Teacher emotion. It build universal theories, it goes beyond the individual to the group, it describes concepts within iNtuition which are vastly beyond the reach of normal humans living within Sensing. In the language of mental symmetry, the doctrine of incarnation states that intellectual and practical Contributor thought became united in the person of Jesus. Jesus the God, using intellectual Contributor thought to work with universal Teacher theories, became integrated with Jesus the man, living as a human within practical Contributor thought. Blind faith Christianity, with its attitude of religious self-denial, may say that Jesus the God became Jesus the man, but it really feels that Jesus the God was too holy and too transcendent to actually become Jesus the man. Rand, in response, says that Jesus the man is Jesus the God and that nothing exists beyond Jesus the man.

Christian doctrine says that Jesus the God became Jesus the man and that this happened externally and historically, but in order to transform the human mind these concepts need to be believed internally and applied personally. Mental symmetry says that mental wholeness can only be reached by starting internally with a mental concept of Jesus the God and then using this mental concept to form a mental concept of Jesus the man. Mental symmetry then says that a mind which becomes integrated will also find it reasonable to believe that the external world is formed in a similar fashion. Likewise, when mental symmetry sees the extensive correspondence between its mental principles and the doctrines of Christianity, it then finds it reasonable to accept Christianity as a valid religion.

Rand and Being Born in Sin

Rand condemns the Christian concept of ‘being born in sin’ in rather harsh terms: “A sin without volition is a slap at morality and an insolent contradiction in terms: that which is outside the possibility of choice is outside the province of morality. If man is evil by birth, he has no will, no power to change it; if he has no will, he can be neither good nor evil; a robot is amoral. To hold a man’s sin, a fact not open to his choice is a mockery of morality…To punish him for a crime he committed before he was born is a mockery of justice. To hold him guilty in a matter where no innocence exists is a mockery of reason.” Atlas Shrugged.

However, if cognitive styles exist and people really can be divided into different types of thinking styles, then I suggest that Rand is guilty of the same crime. For, she is condemning everyone who is not born a Contributor person, implying that they are ‘evil by birth’. But, cognitive style is something over which a person has ‘no will’, and has ‘no power to change’.

However, not everyone is a Contributor person, and Contributor strategy is not the only form of thought. Instead, the mental circuit of practical Contributor thought requires the cooperation of several modes of thought, and it only begins to function after other modes of thought have been programmed. But, the Contributor person can use conscious control of Contributor thought to jumpstart this process and begin to use Contributor strategy, even when the rest of his mind is not functioning adequately. However, when the Contributor person uses conscious control to operate the mental circuit of practical Contributor thought, then this mental circuit will only function in a limited fashion within a restricted area of thought.

For Rand, life means either submitting passively to the subhuman Mercy-driven existence of the average people, or else using conscious Contributor thought and conscious control of will to force practical Contributor thought to function: “Every man builds his world in his own image; he has the power to choose, but no power to escape the necessity of choice. If he abdicates his power, he abdicates the status of man, and the grinding chaos of the irrational is what he achieves as his sphere of existence—by his own choice.”

As Rand suggests, it appears that practical Contributor thought is a superior form of human function. It is better than either the hedonism of Mercy idolatry or the blind faith of Teacher idolatry. However, the person who uses this mental circuit is also subject to conscience and the possibility of guilt. How does the typical Contributor person minimize the possibility of personal failure and the feeling of guilt that this produces? In the same way that he got the circuit of practical Contributor thought to operate in the first place—through the use of conscious control. Remember that the circuit of practical Contributor thought requires the cooperation of several modes of thought. However, when Contributor thought is in control of the circuit of practical Contributor thought, then this will lead to specialization—becoming a recognized expert within a limited field of thought or action.

The Contributor person is naturally better than anyone else at specializing: First, Contributor thought is capable of concentrating upon a plan. Therefore, the typical Contributor person will use his ability to concentrate to restrict his thinking to a small area of expertise, ignoring anything outside of this small circle. Second, within this circle of concentration, the Contributor person will emphasize the Contributor part of the mental circuit of practical Contributor thought. In economics, this is the buying and selling of items; in science it is the technical problem-solving of math and logic; with Rand it is the inventive genius of developing a new and better product. Third, the Contributor person will use the aura of  ‘personal dignity’ and ‘personal freedom’ which comes from having a functioning Cp mental circuit to impose upon those around him the feeling that everything they do which lies outside of the Contributor person’s narrow area of expertise is worthless. Thus, within the Contributor person’s area of expertise, he will use his innate abilities to do the best technical job possible; outside of this area of expertise, where the Contributor person has limited skills and knowledge, he will project the feeling that personal success here does not really matter. Fourth, because the Contributor person is functioning in a superior way to the average person, he will be successful, and he will gain wealth and status. Contributor persons will then use their wealth and personal status to redefine practical Contributor thought. No longer will the standard of excellence be the use of practical Contributor thought. A Contributor person such as Ayn Rand may still state that that this defines morality. However, the real standard by which society will judge people is their ability to use practical Contributor thought the way that it is used in the mind of the semi-developed Contributor person. Thus, unless an individual is an officially recognized technical expert in some limited field, he will not qualify for approval.  Does the Contributor person consciously choose to follow this path? Usually, no. Instead, each step of the process follows naturally from the previous one.

Thomas Kuhn defines a similar form of mental duplicity with intellectual Contributor thought in the realm of science. Science is officially defined as using Perceiver logic to develop general Teacher theories. But, Kuhn tells us that most scientists spend most of their time solving technical problems within some narrow area of expertise.

As Ayn Rand and other Contributor persons suggest, it is possible for everyone to program and use the mental circuit of practical Contributor thought. But, when Contributor persons tilt the playing field so strongly in their favor, then it is often easier for other cognitive styles to simply give up and focus upon their own mode of thought instead of attempting to develop a mode of thought in which they will probably fail and be faced with personal guilt and failure—simply because they have been born the ‘wrong’ cognitive style. And, when enough people respond in this fashion, then this simply reinforces the preconceptions of the Contributor person.

Ayn Rand looks at Christianity and condemns its religious code of ethics: “Your moral code begins by damning man as evil, then demands that he practice a good which it defines as impossible for him to practice…It demands that he starts, not with a standard of value, but with a standard of evil, which is himself, by means of which he is then to define the good: the good is that which he is not.”

It appears that Ayn Rand, the Contributor person, does the same. She begins by ‘damning others as evil’ because they are not Contributor persons, and then she demands that others practice the impossible good of being a Contributor person, starting not from the standard of value of being a Contributor person, but rather from the starting point of being another cognitive style, a standard which may be ‘himself’, but which is also defined by Contributor persons as a ‘standard of evil’. From that starting point, the non-Contributor person is then supposed to reach the good of being a Contributor person, a good ‘which he is not’.

Rand and Mental Wholeness

One of the fundamental tenets of Ayn Rand is that I must build personal identity and act only for myself. Repeating two quotes from before: “Many words have been granted me, and some are wise, and some are false, but only three are holy: ‘I will it!’” Anthem. “I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”

However, it appears that the human mind is actually a ‘we’ and not an ‘I’. The mental circuit of practical Contributor thought, which Rand deifies, involves the cooperation of several modes of thought. Because this mental circuit is under the control of Contributor strategy, the typical Contributor person thinks that this mental circuit is Contributor thought. Instead, each mode provides one aspect: Mercy strategy comes up with the bottom line; it contains the emotional experiences which the Contributor person manipulates and from which he constructs his personal identity. Perceiver thought gains the knowledge that is required to build a cognitive map and define personal identity. Exhorter strategy generates the drive and energy and provides the creativity which the Contributor person requires. Server thought strategy performs that actions and learns the skills that are needed to reach a goal. Facilitator strategy transforms the harsh and impersonal plans of the Contributor person into something that is smoother and more palatable. And, Teacher strategy provides the overall understanding within which all of this activity occurs. Contributor thought may be the mental mode which ‘drives’ this cognitive vehicle, but the driver is not the car.

When these other modes of thought become cognitive, then the circuit of practical Contributor thought is transformed and the effectiveness of the circuit becomes multiplied. Therefore, if the Contributor person wants to develop Cp to its full potential, then he must ‘swear by his life and his love of it, that he will also live for the sake of other mental modes, and ask other mental modes to live for the sake of conscious thought.’ And, these words are not too strong, because a subconscious mental mode of thought will only function normally if it is given a mental assurance that it will be permitted to continue existing. Any mental mode that exists with a ‘sword of Damocles above its head’ will go into ‘emergency’ mode. It will not function normally but instead will be driven by the hyper-fear of losing cognitive existence.

For the Contributor person, this type of mental interaction will be viewed as a form of mental investment: If I take the time to develop a subconscious mode of thought, then I will receive the reward of increased mental capability. And, what is the fastest way of developing a subconscious mode of thought? In my experience, it is working with a person who is conscious in that mode of thought, respecting that person, and learning from that person. But, that will only happen if the Contributor person changes his moral standard from using practical Contributor thought to using all seven mental modes. However, if the Contributor person does that, then he can no longer regard himself as a morally superior being. Instead, he must recognize that he too is ‘born in sin’ just like everyone else. Like other cognitive styles, he also naturally exalts certain modes of thought to the exclusion of other mental modes. And, while blind faith based Christianity may not have a solution for personal guilt which permits practical Contributor thought to function, rational paradigm based Christian does have a solution which is compatible.

And why am I talking so much about sin and guilt? Because, when practical Contributor thought begins to function, then questions of sin and guilt occupy center stage. If the person who uses practical Contributor thought has no way of dealing with personal failure, then his only alternative is to turn into the ‘legalistic Pharisee’ who is ruled by his limited technical code of ethics and who condemns everyone else as morally inferior. And, yes, I have spent most of my life being verbally, nonverbally, academically and monetarily rejected by ‘successful’ Contributors persons as ‘morally inferior’ because I do not live up to their limited standards of personal success.

Let me tie this down with a scenario to illustrate how this works. Suppose that the typical Contributor person has an argument with someone else of a different style. Because Contributor thought thinks in terms of specific connections between Perceiver facts and Server actions, the Contributor person will ask, “Tell me exactly what I have done wrong. Give me a specific example. If you cannot give me an example, then how can I have done anything wrong? Besides, you are the one who lost your cool and got mad at me. I continued to talk in a calm, low voice.” When it comes to the technical details, it is quite possible that the Contributor person did nothing wrong. And, if he did not lose his cool, then his mental circuit of practical Contributor thought did not break down; it continued to function. Therefore, as far as the Contributor person is concerned, he is free of guilt. However, what the typical Contributor person cannot see is his overall attitude. Throughout the entire episode, the Contributor person was projecting an attitude of moral superiority. The individual fragments of his personal behavior may have been impeccable, but the way that they were put together was not.

The Facilitator person, living ‘downstream’ from Contributor strategy, can behave in a similar way, applying what I refer to as ‘local morality’. He follows all of the rules of the immediate situation, but the general context lacks integrity. If you look at the local situation, this type of Facilitator person is highly moral, but if you examine the big picture, then you conclude that he is rather amoral. For example, the Facilitator person is very good at political infighting, backstabbing a fellow worker using methods that are officially approved. Similarly, the Facilitator person has a natural ‘talent’ at presenting the facts of a situation in such a way that makes him look good and others look bad. The individual facts which he mentions may all be accurate, but the way in which they are presented, and the emphasis which is placed upon the various aspects of the situation, distorts the description in the favor of the Facilitator person, making him look good and the others look bad.

Saying this in more general terms, both the Contributor and Facilitator persons tend to obey the letter of the law while violating the spirit of it.

Ayn Rand makes it clear that she does not like the concept of ‘being born in sin’. I have already mentioned that the typical Contributor person tends to regard other cognitive styles as ‘being born in sin’, but are the Contributor and Facilitator persons free of inborn, fatal flaws? If one defines morality in the narrow sense of setting up a moral standard of behavior and living according to that standard, then it is possible for these two cognitive styles to be relatively ‘sinless’. However, if one defines morality as using all seven modes of thought and having them work together in harmony, then I suggest that all seven cognitive styles are equally born in the sin of mental fragmentation. And, it appears that the only way that any person can achieve mental wholeness is by ‘dying’ to childish identity, guided by universal Teacher understanding and carrying out the Contributor plan of personal rebirth.    

Is versus Ought

According to David Hume the philosopher, one of the dilemmas of philosophy is explaining the difference between what is and what ought to be. A descriptive statement describes how the world is; a normative statement prescribes how the world should be. Science tries to analyze how the world is; morality tells the person how he should be.

So how can one get from science to morality? I suggest that morality arises because of a gap between internal mental content and external physical structure. The developing human is faced with a dilemma. On the one hand, his physical body has specific needs which must be provided, while his external world is governed by fixed laws which cannot be violated. On the other hand, he lacks the mental content that is required to use the external world to provide for his physical needs. Thus, as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs suggests, he must choose how far he will develop his mind in order to meet his personal needs. Will he remain at the level of the merely physical, or will he progress to a higher, more integrated, and more internal level of mental function? This choice of how far to develop internally in response to external need is a moral choice; a person ought to build mental content, but he can decide not to. It is easier for someone to avoid internal growth, but if he does, then, morally speaking, he will be an inferior person.  

Rand describes this principle quite well: “Man has no automatic code of survival. His particular distinction from all other living species is the necessity to act in the face of alternatives by means of volitional choice. He has no automatic knowledge of what is good for him or evil, what values his life depends on, what course of action it requires. Are you prattling about an instinct of self-preservation? An instinct of self-preservation is precisely what man does not possess. An ‘instinct’ in as unerring and automatic form of knowledge. A desire is not an instinct. A desire to live does not give you the knowledge required for living. And even man's desire to live is not automatic: your secret evil today is that that is the desire you do not hold. Your fear of death is not a love of life and will not give you the knowledge needed to keep it. Man must obtain his knowledge and choose his actions by a process of thinking, which nature will not force him to perform. Man has the power to act as his own destroyer--and that is the way he has acted through most of history.’” Atlas Shrugged.

I suggest that the error in Rand’s thinking lies in not taking this principle far enough. For Rand, the highest form of human behavior is practical Contributor thought with its internalized personal identity. In contrast, mental symmetry suggests that this is only part of the picture, and that the ultimate goal is to achieve mental wholeness, which contains personal identity and the development of practical Contributor thought, but which expands this to include all seven modes of thought, an image of God, and the integration of both practical and intellectual Contributor thought. And, going even further, theory suggests that this only describes the ultimate human being and that it is possible to use mental symmetry to expand human existence to include mirror-image existence as well.

Rand relates morality to the gap between physical necessity and the need to develop an internal sense of self-perservation. Mental symmetry suggests that a further gap exists between the structure of the mind and the interaction between the mind and the body. Cognitive styles and the diagram of mental symmetry appear to describe the structure of the mind. The four categories of MBTI®, in contrast, appear to result from the interaction between the mind and the body. This provides the human with a deeper level of moral choice: will he submit passively to the externally imposed divisions of MBTI®, or will he use internal development to move beyond them to the integrated thinking that mental symmetry makes possible. And, it is quite possible that further levels of internal/external contradiction exist which will uncover deeper levels of morality.

Contributor Specialization

I have mentioned that the Contributor person instinctively specializes in some small area of expertise. What then is the area of specialization for Ayn Rand? It appears that she restricts Contributor thought primarily to the expertise of the industrialist. If a person can build a good railroad, design a massive skyscraper, invent a new motor, or come up with a better type of metal, then he is a successful person. Such individuals define the main heroes of her world.

Excerpting from one of her novels: “The three of them set out every morning on adventures of their own kind. Once, an elderly professor of literature, Mrs. Taggart’s friend, saw them on top of a pile in a junk yard, dismantling the carcass of an automobile. He stopped, shook his head and said to Francisco, ‘A young man of your position ought to spend his time in libraries, absorbing the culture of the world.’ ‘What do you think I'm doing?’ asked Francisco.” Atlas Shrugged. Why is Francisco a ‘successful person’? Because he is studying mechanical machines; he is learning how to be a good industrialist.

Or, for another illustration, also from Atlas Shrugged: “‘Look, Gail.’ Roark got up, reached out, tore a thick branch off a tree, held it in both hands, one fist closed at each end; then, his wrists and knuckles tensed against the resistance, he bent the branch slowly into an arc. ‘Now I can make what I want of it: a bow, a spear, a cane, a railing. That’s the meaning of life.’ ‘Your strength?’ ‘Your work.’ He tossed the branch aside. ‘The material the earth offers you and what you make of it . . .’” Is the ability to create tools out of natural materials a valuable skill? Yes. As an Engineer, I highly respect this skill. Is it the ‘meaning of life’? No.

So, why would Ayn Rand focus so much upon the physical skill of the industrialist? I suggest three possible reasons: First, Rand grew up in Soviet Russia, a regime which had almost a fanatical obsession with industrial output. Second, she lived during the early twentieth century, an era of industrial machines and factories. In contrast, today’s world is ruled by the computer and the geek. Rand’s industrial hero would not do well in today’s Western world. In order to succeed, he would have to move to India, China, or some other industrializing nation.

As Laura Penny pointed out in More Money than Brains, “all of Rand's heroic capitalists triumph in industries that are now dead or bleeding. It’s easy to write potboilers that posit sharp moral distinctions between the makers and takers when you live in a big-shouldered factory world where people still make things.” Saying this another way, industrialism as a whole has experienced ‘moral failure’—the region of activity in which Rand’s Contributor heroes were so successful. And that is typical of the Contributor person. It is quite common for him to climb successfully to the top of some ladder of success only to discover that he has climbed the wrong ladder.

Moving on to the third reason, when a person uses Perceiver thought to define personal identity, as Rand does, it is easiest to gain this Perceiver confidence when working with physical objects from the external world. Let us examine this further. One of the basic tenets of Rand’s objectivism is that humans have direct contact with physical reality through sensory perception, and that it is possible to gain objective knowledge from perception by using Perceiver logic. In other words, Rand is convinced that observing the physical world leads immediately to Perceiver certainty. Is physical observation a valid source of Perceiver thought? Yes, the easiest way to develop Perceiver thought is by learning common sense about physical objects in the external world. And, during the time of Rand, the average person had immediate and continual contact with the real, natural world. In contrast, today’s typical city dweller lives in an artificial concrete jungle, interacts through electronic means, and spends much of his time living in the virtual reality of computer simulation.

But why does Rand need Perceiver certainty? Because, she wants to escape the hedonism of Mercy idolatry—which uses emotional Mercy experiences to ‘define’ the ‘facts’ about personal identity,  and she wants to escape the blind faith of Teacher idolatry—which uses the emotional status of experts to mesmerize Perceiver thought into ‘knowing’ what is true. In order to do that, she must use Perceiver facts to define personal identity. And, where will she find solid Perceiver facts? The most obvious source is physical common sense—hence objectivism.

But, is physical common sense the only valid source of Perceiver truth? Apparently, according to Rand, yes. Objectivism says that the only valid form of knowledge is either sensory impressions or that which can be derived logically from sensory impression. In contrast, mental symmetry suggests that the real struggle is gaining the Perceiver confidence that is needed to hold on to Perceiver truth when faced with emotional pressure.

Rand and Kant

And that brings us to Ayn Rand’s view of Immanuel Kant. Rand had a special disregard for Kant, whom she called ‘the most evil man in history’. As I mentioned before, Rand makes strong moral judgments—based upon her own system of morality. Why would Rand find Kant so abhorrent? Rand tells us why. One reason is because of Kant’s distinction between noumena and phenomena. According to Kant, the human mind has no direct connection with reality. Instead, the human mind can only see ‘phenomena’—things as they appear, and not noumena—things as they really are in themselves. But, if the mind cannot know physical reality for certain, then Ayn Rand cannot use physical objects to acquire the Perceiver knowledge that is required to define self-image, which leaves no mental foundation for Rand’s objectivism.

Why would Rand think that the mind has a direct connection with physical reality? I suggest that the answer lies in the limited mental awareness of the Contributor person. If you look at the diagram of mental symmetry, you will see that Contributor strategy is surrounded by confidence: Contributor thought itself places confidence in plans, but Contributor plans themselves are based upon a mental foundation of Perceiver facts and Server actions, which also require mental confidence. Contributor confidence reflects a person’s ability to be able to handle channel Exhorter energy without ‘blowing up’ or ‘falling apart’. The person who can calmly argue a point or coolly carry out a plan when ‘under fire’, either literally or figuratively, is exhibiting Contributor confidence.

It appears that the Contributor person has been blessed (or cursed, depending on how you look at it) with a lack of awareness of either Perceiver or Server confidence. For the Contributor person, both Perceiver and Server knowing appear to be digital. If the Contributor person knows a Perceiver fact or has learned a Server skill, then he knows it for certain without any doubt. Thus, as far as the Contributor person is concerned, the human mind does have a direct connection with physical reality.

This mental blindness of the Contributor person can often be seen in the plans which he carries out. He can perform death defying actions which others view as excessively risky, while he insists that the risk is quite manageable because he has worked out a complete plan with a tested contingency for every conceivable disaster. Why does the risk taking Contributor person have such confidence? Because he is only aware of Contributor confidence. Why do others think that his plan is risky? Because, they sense the uncertainty in the underlying Perceiver facts and Server actions—which he apparently does not. 

However, as the Perceiver person—who is aware of Perceiver confidence—knows, it is not possible to be 100% certain of any fact. As Kant states, one can only see phenomena and not noumena. This does not mean that it is impossible to gain knowledge about the external world or that the external world does not exist. But, it does mean that all knowledge, including knowledge about the external world, carries with it a certain level of uncertainty. And, it also means that everything that the mind knows about the external world is being pre-filtered by specific modes of thought (Perceiver, Server, etc.) which process specific types of information in specific ways.

However, while 100% certainty is unachievable, it is possible to build Perceiver confidence to the point where one is reasonably certain of the nature of reality. And, when Perceiver knowing reaches a sufficient level of confidence, then it is possible to use these Perceiver facts as a cognitive map upon which to base Contributor plans. For the Perceiver person, this has two main implications: On the one hand, it is much more difficult for him to carry out a Contributor plan than it is for the Contributor person, because, as the old joke goes, the Contributor person assumes that “nothing will go wrong, go wrong, go wrong, go wrong...” In contrast, for the Perceiver person, acting upon his Perceiver facts means letting go of conscious control to subconscious Contributor thought, even when he is not 100% certain of his information. On the other hand, by the time the Perceiver person has struggled through to enough Perceiver confidence to be able to allow subconscious Contributor thought to use these facts as a basis for plans and actions, this plan will probably have more breadth and depth than the typical Contributor plan of ‘march in, make a quick buck, and exit stage left’.

Among other things, this principle of mental uncertainty means that there is nothing magical about knowledge which comes from physical reality. All Perceiver knowledge carries with it some Perceiver uncertainty, and there are many ways of testing Perceiver facts and gaining confidence in Perceiver information. Rand is correct in saying that goal oriented behavior should be guided by rational thought and that personal identity should be defined by rational facts. She is also right in suggesting that—for the typical person of her time—the most obvious source of rational truth is physical reality. But, it takes Perceiver confidence to construct rational Perceiver thought, and Perceiver confidence can be gained, even when dealing with non-physical reality, and Perceiver confidence must be gained, even when dealing with physical reality.

Rand also despised Kant because of Kant’s categorical imperative. According to Kant, the only truly moral action is one that is guided completely by universal Teacher understanding, and not by any form of Mercy selfishness. Notice the inherent contradiction: Ayn Rand regards Mercy selfishness as the only basis for personal morality, whereas Kant thinks that the total absence of Mercy selfishness is the only valid basis for personal morality.

I suggest that both Kant and Rand are making valid points, but that each is focusing upon a different part of the big picture. For the human, mental development begins with the childish identity and hedonism that comes from Mercy idolatry. This is the starting point which Rand rightly despises as subhuman and Kant accurately diagnoses as radical evil. But, the mind cannot exist without some emotional foundation. Therefore, the only way to become free of the Mercy entanglement of childish identity is to build the mind around a general Teacher understanding. And, because the mind will only choose to take a higher path when the lower path is no longer available, then Kant is right in saying that the ultimate goal is to be morally driven by an internal moral code based in the universal Teacher understanding of the categorical imperative.

But, where Kant goes wrong is in assuming that this is the final mental destination. Rather, the ultimate goal is to use this general Teacher understanding to rebuild personal Mercy identity upon a rational and logical foundation—the mode of operation which Rand emphasizes. If one follows this combined path, then it is possible for all cognitive styles to use practical Contributor thought and build a rational identity, and the expression of this type of goal-oriented behavior will extend far beyond the mechanical industrialism of Rand. That, in a nutshell, summarizes the mental path of Christianity.

This does not mean that any general Teacher theory will do the job of transforming childish Mercy identity. Instead, what is needed is a very special kind of general Teacher theory—a theory of personal rebirth guided by personal honesty—and that is where Christianity plays a key role, for it says that a person can only be saved by confessing his sins, repenting, and calling on the name of Jesus. Because of holy book mentality, Christians tend to view this as a magic formula, based in the Mercy status of Jesus as a person. But, what is being described here is not the Mercy person of Jesus, but rather his Teacher name. As Philippians 2 states, the name of Jesus (which means salvation) is above every other name—because Jesus went through the process of personal birth, death, and resurrection. And, the Bible also states that Jesus came from God—the realm of universal Teacher understanding, and that he is not a normal Mercy-based human being.

Saying all of this in the Teacher language of a general paradigm, the path of personal salvation means acknowledging that a general Teacher theory exists (believing in God), allowing the Perceiver facts that are associated with general Teacher understanding to accurately describe me (confessing my sins to God—‘to confess’ means to verbally agree), and then changing direction (‘to repent’ means to change direction) by accepting that the Contributor plan of personal rebirth is above every other plan (believing that God has lifted up the name of Jesus above every other name) and then personally following the Contributor plan of rebirth (submitting to Jesus as Lord). That describes the essence of the Christian message of personal salvation as a Teacher paradigm. Notice, that both the Teacher words and the Perceiver meanings of these words are the same as holy book Christianity. But, what holds everything together is the Teacher emotions of a general theory and not the Mercy feelings of religious fervor. And, because the religious fervor and the blind faith are no longer present, self-denial is not required, and it becomes possible to combine religious faith with the personal salvation of Rand.

However, as far as Rand is concerned, religion means blind faith. She defined faith as “the acceptance of allegations without evidence or proof, either apart from or against the evidence of one’s senses and reason... Mysticism is the claim to some non-sensory, non-rational, non-definable, non-identifiable means of knowledge, such as ‘instinct,’ ‘intuition,’ ‘revelation,’ or any form of ‘just knowing.’”  Thus, because most religious behavior is irrational and based in emotional fervor, Rand concludes that all religion is equivalent to irrational belief. But, mental symmetry suggests that whenever a person acts upon his Perceiver knowledge, he must step out in faith to some extent, that all education begins with holy book mentality and blind faith in a teacher, and that learning to think rationally and logically is a mental struggle that requires the building of Perceiver confidence.  

So, what happens if people do not accept personal rebirth as the ultimate general Teacher theory? Generally speaking, they will tend to accept some form of the default Teacher theory of group-think and collectivism. Why is this the default theory? Teacher strategy feels good when many items fit together smoothly. The easiest way to take individual items and fit them together smoothly is by putting them in a mental blender and pressing the mix button. Rand recognizes the false general Teacher theory of collectivism and rejects it as an inadequate solution:  

“The greatest guilt of today is that of people who accept collectivism by moral default; the people who seek protection from the necessity of taking a stand, by refusing to admit to themselves the nature of that which they are accepting; the people who support plans specifically designed to achieve serfdom, but hide behind the empty assertion that they are lovers of freedom, with no concrete meaning attached to the word; the people who believe that the content of ideas need not be examined, that principles need not be defined, and that facts can be eliminated by keeping one's eyes shut. They expect, when they find themselves in a world of bloody ruins and concentration camps, to escape moral responsibility by wailing: ‘But I didn't mean this!’” As Rand observes, collectivism is the default social paradigm; it is based in personal dishonesty; it is a passive form of existence; it leaves words poorly defined; it avoids factual analysis; it tries to escape moral responsibility; and it leads eventually to a strong-man mentality.

And, Rand recognizes that the primary culprit behind collectivism is ‘mental blending’: “There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice.” Mental symmetry suggests that it is the Facilitator person who uses mental blending. Facilitator thought functions by blending and mixing. The Facilitator person naturally sees everything in terms of greys. As with Contributor planning, this mental strategy plays an essential role in human thought—when combined with other mental strategies, but when it functions in isolation and takes over the mind, then it leads to the disaster of bureaucracy, socialism, communism, Buddhism, and other forms of group-think.

Rand and Money

Now that we have spent some time analyzing Rand’s concept of personal morality, let us turn to Rand’s view of money. The traditional approach of economics is to describe value as a personal, internal, subjective emotion, and then discuss only money—the corporate, external, objective aspect of value. Rand takes a more internal approach. As an objectivist, she also bases her concept of value upon external items. But, her attempt to go beyond ‘mine’ to ‘me’ means that she has a more internalized view of money than the average economist.

Von Mises, the economist, says in Socialism that “Economic calculation can only take place by means of money prices established in the market for production goods in a society resting on private property in the means of production.” In the language of mental symmetry, the basic element is private property—using Perceiver thought to define what is ‘mine’. But, in order to compare the value of one item with another, in order to build a Perceiver map that ties together various objects, what is needed is money. Money provides the Perceiver facts that allow me to compare the value of one item with the value of another. Saying this more succinctly, “Money has thus become an aid that the human mind is no longer able to dispense with in making economic calculations.” The Theory of Money and Credit.

Rand suggests, in agreement with mental symmetry, that using money is superior to using physical force. On the one hand, Mercy importance can be used to define Perceiver ‘facts’. This describes the method of childish identity, and both Rand and mental symmetry reject this method as inadequate. On the other hand, money permits people to interact on the basis of Perceiver thought and Perceiver logic: “Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to become the means by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of other men. Blood, whips and guns--or dollars. Take your choice--there is no other.” Atlas Shrugged.

Rand rejects the concept that ‘money is the root of all evil’: “So you think that money is the root of all evil? [...] Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?”

However, Rand, together with most people, is misquoting the Bible. I Timothy 6:10 actually states “for the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” NASB. ‘Money’ is quite different than ‘the love of money’. Why does the average person misquote this passage? Because of the religious self-denial that accompanies blind faith. The person who is denying himself will not just think that the love of money is a problem, but instead he will be convinced that money itself, together with wealth in general, is inherently evil.

Rand herself partially realizes this distinction: “Now I don’t see anything evil in a desire to make money. But money is only a means to some end. If a man wants it for a personal purpose — to invest in his industry, to create, to study, to travel, to enjoy luxury — he’s completely moral. But the men who place money first go much beyond that. Personal luxury is a limited endeavor. What they want is ostentation: to show, to stun, to entertain, to impress others… At the price of their own self-respect. In the realm of greatest importance — the realm of values, of judgment, of spirit, of thought — they place others above self, in the exact manner which altruism demands. A truly selfish man cannot be affected by the approval of others. He doesn’t need it.”

In other words, money is very useful as a medium of exchange. But, when a person starts to love money itself, rather than what he can do with money, then money will become associated with a number of personal emotions which are mentally destructive. And that is precisely what the Biblical passage states.

Rand also recognizes that money is an external symbol of internal value and that the external symbol must be accompanied by internal content: “If an heir is equal to his money, it serves him; if not, it destroys him.”

But, what is Rand’s ultimate internal standard of value? It is practical Contributor thought: “There’s nothing of any importance in life - except how well you do your work. Nothing. Only that. Whatever else you are, will come from that. It's the only measure of human value. All the codes of ethics they'll try to ram down your throat are just so much paper money put out by swindlers to fleece people of their virtues. The code of competence is the only system of morality that's on a gold standard.” Atlas Shrugged.

That, I suggest, is also an inadequate moral standard, because practical Contributor thought is not the only mental circuit, Contributor strategy is not the only mental mode, and the Contributor person is not the only cognitive style. However, if you extend Rand’s moral standard to include both major mental circuits, all modes of thought, and all cognitive styles, then I suggest that you do come up with an adequate moral standard. 

Rand, Sex and Gender

Ayn Rand made a number of strong—but inconsistent—statements about gender and identity. I suggest that mental symmetry can provide an explanation for these contradictory views. Mentally speaking, it appears that the male mind emphasizes the three confidence styles of Perceiver, Server, and Contributor. In contrast, the female mind seems to put a stronger emphasis upon the three emotional modes of Mercy, Teacher and Exhorter.

On the one hand, Ayn Rand was a woman. According to Rand’s philosophy of objectivism, she should accept this as a fundamental fact defining her personal identity. But, Rand’s philosophy exalts the supremacy of rational Perceiver facts, Server skills, and practical Contributor thought—modes of thought all related to the masculine side of the mind. Thus, her objectivism told her that she was a female, whereas her philosophy informed her that she was a male. Mentally speaking, it appears that she wanted to be regarded as a man and, as I mentioned before, she was pleased when Ludwig von Mises called her the ‘most courageous man in America.’

So how does one reconcile the fact of being a woman with a philosophy of exalting masculinity? Rand ‘solves’ this problem by defining a woman as someone who needs masculinity and who looks up to masculinity. In the words of Rand: “For a woman qua woman, the essence of femininity is hero-worship - the desire to look up to man. ‘To look up’ does not mean dependence, obedience, or anything implying inferiority.  It means an intense kind of admiration; and admiration is an emotion that can be experienced only by a person of strong character and independent value judgments. ...Hero worship is a demanding virtue: a woman has to be worthy of it and of the hero she worships. Intellectually and morally, i.e., as a human being, she has to be his equal; then the object of her worship is specifically his masculinity, not any human virtue she might lack. ...Her worship is an abstract emotion for the metaphysical concept of masculinity as such ... It means that a properly feminine woman does not treat men as if she were their pal, sister, mother - or leader. ...To act as the superior, the leader, virtually the ruler of all the man she deals with, would be an excruciating psychological torture.  It would require a total depersonalization, an utter selflessness, and an incommunicable loneliness; she would have to suppress (or repress) every personal aspect of her own character and attitude; she could not be herself, i.e., a woman; ... she would become the most unfeminine, sexless, metaphysically inappropriate, and rationally revolting figure of all: a   matriarch.  This would apply to the reigning queen of an absolute monarchy, but it would not apply to a woman in any field of endeavor other than politics.”

Consistent with this, readers of Ayn Rand’s novels have noted that the women in her books are always fragile and slender. The man is always superior in both mental and physical strength. The sex that is portrayed is not between equals and the woman is never the aggressor.

It is when writing about love that Ayn Rand sounds most like the writer of a harlequin romance: “She tried to tear herself away from him. The effort broke against his arms that had not felt it. Her fists beat against his shoulders, against his face. He moved one had, took her two wrists, pinned them behind her, under his arm, wrenching her shoulder blades. She twisted her head back. She felt his lips on her breast. She tore herself free…She fought like an animal. But she made no sound. She did not call for help. She heard the echoes of her blows in a gasp of his breath, and she knew that it was a gasp of pleasure…She felt the hatred and his hands; his hands moving over her body, the hands that broke granite. She fought the last convulsion. Then the sudden pain shot up, through her body, to her throat, and she screamed. Then she laid still. It was an act that could be performed in tenderness, as a seal of love, or in contempt, as a symbol of humiliation and conquest. It could be an act of a lover or the act of a soldier violating an enemy woman. He did it as an act of scorn. Not as love, but as defilement. And this made her still and submit…the act of a master taking shameful , contemptuous possession of her was the kind of rapture she had wanted…” The Fountainhead. This is not an interaction between two equal but different partners. Instead, it is a pure case of domination and submission, of one Contributor person imposing his will upon another.

But, this ends up contradicting two major aspects of Rand’s philosophy. First, it contradicts Rand’s assertion of individuality: “I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” And yet, the woman in essence does live for the sake of the man. She finds her personal identity by looking up to the man as her hero.

Second, it contradicts Rand’s belief that people should only interact as equals: “I shall choose friends among men, but neither slaves nor masters. And I shall choose only such as please me, and them I shall love and respect, but neither command nor obey. And we shall join our hands when we wish, or walk alone when we so desire.” But, the romance of Rand is not an interaction between equals.

Rand realizes that her concept of rugged individuality and personal freedom contradicts her portrayal of love: “Why have you been staring at me ever since we met? Because I’m not the Gail Wynand you’d heard about. You see, I love you. And love is exception-making. If you were in love you’d want to be broken, trampled, ordered, dominated, because that’s the impossible, in the inconceivable for you in your relations with people. That would be the one gift, the great exception you’d want to offer the man you loved. But it wouldn’t be easy for you.” Atlas Shrugged.

So, how can one reconcile this contradiction? As Rand herself says, “Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.” I agree. I suggest that Rand’s mistaken premise is that practical Contributor thought is the only valid form of thought.

The solution lies in realizing that goal oriented behavior actually goes through three stages of development, and not just two as Rand says. The first stage is that of the beginner, the person who lacks a personal identity, and is driven by the Mercy emotions of the moment. The second stage is that of the technician, who has learned Perceiver facts, acquired Server skills, and learned how to make Contributor choices. This second stage corresponds to the masculine, technically competent, hero of Rand. But, I suggest that there is a further third stage of the expert, who goes beyond mere masculine competence to a mental ‘marriage’ of feminine emotionally-driven spontaneity and masculine technical competence. When the mind is functioning at this third level, the channels along which thought moves are determined by solid Perceiver facts and Server sequence, however the actual thinking and behaving is being driven by Mercy and Teacher emotions. In essence, masculine expertise has been used to construct a mental ‘highway system’, but feminine grace and feeling is now sitting in the driver’s seat and driving the car.

As a professional violinist, I know from personal experience the difference between playing as a technician and playing as an expert. The technician may hit all of the notes perfectly, but he is not making music. The expert takes the technical perfection of the technician and turns it into the artistry of the expert. The woman who tries to be technically perfect is operating out of her natural element. If, as Rand suggests, technical competence is the ultimate standard, then the woman has no choice but to look up to the man as her hero. But, when performance goes beyond technical perfection to artistry, then it is the woman who has the superior strategy, for she is now living in her natural element, while the man is attempting to go beyond his. But, for the Contributor person, being a feminine artiste means letting go of conscious control and allowing subconscious mental strategies to guide behavior. For Rand, it appears that this sort of emotional release occurred mainly during romance, and it creates not mental wholeness but rather mental contradiction, not partnership, but rather domination and submission.

Rand does partially realize this principle:  “A man’s sexual choice is the result and sum of his fundamental convictions...He will always be attracted to the woman who reflects his deepest vision of himself... only the possession of a heroine will give him the sense of an achievement.” In other words, Rand’s male Contributor hero does see in a woman the female expression of his masculine content. But, for Rand, sexual interaction remains a contradiction to her philosophy, a means by which the male hero temporarily reaches beyond his mode of existence and denies his essence. In contrast, mental symmetry suggests that it is possible for female thought to develop its own personal identity, an identity which is different than the masculine hero of Rand, inferior to it in some ways, while superior to it in others.

And that, I suggest, defines the essence of a healthy relationship. As Rand states, each person needs to build a personal identity. But, while personal identity is associated most closely with practical Contributor thought, it is possible for all seven modes of thought to ‘become alive’ and develop their own sense of ‘personal identity’. Likewise, it is possible for all seven cognitive styles of people to develop their minds to the extent where the circuit of practical Contributor thought functions adequately. But, the end result will still be seven different ways of expressing this mental circuit, and each cognitive style will be naturally talented at developing one aspect of this mental circuit. And, throughout this process, each mental strategy and each cognitive style will only be able to reach its true potential by emphasizing its natural abilities while learning from the natural strengths of others.

This is not a new concept, for many others lift it up as the ideal. But, it is usually presented as a vague Mercy feeling that ‘we all need to love one another’, a socialistic universal Teacher theory that ‘everyone should have the same slice of pie’, or a Facilitator blending which uses consensus to remove all individual differences. Instead, mental symmetry presents internal and external cooperation as a solid theory which preserves the individualism and rational thinking described by Ayn Rand.

When practical Contributor thought is extended to include mental wholeness, then personal value and personal accomplishment acquire deeper meanings related to love and virtue. In the words of Rand: “Love is the expression of one's values, the greatest reward you can earn for the moral qualities you have achieved in your character and person, the emotional price paid by one man for the joy he receives from the virtues of another.”

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