The Howard Roarke archetype is that of an independent loner who seems to never need others (other perhaps than a well-chosen few). He is socially isolated but quite happy to be so.
I have a question for you: can one be a good Objectivist if you are extroverted (and gain major energy and value from being around others)? Is this strong desire for others' company considered to be a weakness in Objectivism? Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden famously jeered at "social metaphysicians" (I believe it wwas his term) and it's a bit unclear to me whether the ire was aimed at the "social" bit or the "metaphsysician" bit. I can see the folly of being Keating but perhaps the character I can most relate to in AR's novels is D'Anconia who seemed to be lighthearted and could easily be around people.
What about the "need" to "share" one's problems and questions with loving friends and supporters? Is this "sharing" considered weak and second-handed or is it OK ?
In the end, I have observed that some people are "thing people", some are "concept people" and yet others are "people people". I can see Objectivism clearly dealing with "thing people" and "concept people" but remain puzzled on how the philosophy really views "people people". These are the kinds of people that go into "caring professions" and become teachers and nurses and (sometimes) doctors etc.
Here's the key: cultivating and exercising the moral virtue of independence does not mean seeking isoloation.
Independence isn't isolation -- it is merely the policy of not putting another person's judgment between yourself and reality. Or put another way: of not allowing another person's thoughts or feelings about reality to be a substitute for reality.
So being introverted vs. extroverted is a matter of style or personality -- a psychological concern -- which is an entirely separate concern from being secondhanded vs. being independent, which is a moral concern.
To underscore this, notice that there are Rand heroes who are most definitely "people people" like Francisco, and those who are more introverted, like Roark, but that both are exemplars of the virtue of independence.
answered Jan 16 '12 at 22:29
Greg Perkins ♦♦
Objectivism has no problem with extensive social interactions. What it focuses on is finding value in those interactions according to the hierarchy of that person. An introverted person may not find as much value in voluminous social contacts; an extrovert may be the opposite. What Objectivism would find a dis-value would be subordinating your values and evaluations to social interactions for the purpose of garnering a wider social audience.
answered Jan 16 '12 at 22:09
Yes they can, but some have to work a lot harder at it than others. Everyone falls somewhere on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. And where they fall can change over time.
For those people who are natural introverts (including me), the "people person" skills can be learned and practiced. If you decide that having those skills is a value to you, and what you gain from the personal relationships that result from it (greater productivity and happiness, for instance), then it can be a very rational decision to work towards that.
One notable example is Penelope Trunk, a well-known and successful consultant and writer on human resources and recruiting. And she has Asperger's Syndrome:
She put so much study and effort into working around her syndrome, or overcoming it, that she is now a sought-after expert on dealing with people!
I don't claim or know of any Objectivist connection to her, but my point is that I've met many Objectivists who would probably need a similar amount of effort to become a "people person." I think I started out as one of them.
answered Jan 22 '12 at 12:43