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Do you agree that we build mental images of things in the world through our perception, logic, and free will?

Do you agree that if we fall in love with someone, it is our mental image of them that we fall in love with and not that person?

Do you agree that the mental image that we fall in love with may not accurately represent the character of that person?

Do you agree that the closer the image of that person matches the image of ourselves, the stronger our love is toward that person?

Do you agree that the fear of being alone causes people to ignore evidences of reality that would change our image of that person to be someone that we would no longer love?

Do you agree that as we grow and change, our mental images of ourselves will also grow and change?

Do you agree that this means our love for the mental image of another person may also diminishes unless we SEE that the other person also grow and change AND we update our mental image of them accordingly?

UPDATE

No. This implies a breach between reality and "mental image." Objectivism would say that being rational means striving for as perfect an integration as possible between our concepts and reality, and that it is the reailty (as we understand it) that we fall in love with.

I agree with you that ideally we strive to ensure that our concepts matches reality as close as possible. However, since that is not a guaranteed due to possible errors, shouldn't the answer to my question still be yes? If not, why?

As the above Lexicon excerpt mentions, errors are certainly possible, as well as irrational fears and irrational responses.

My question more specifically is: Can irrational fears increase the likelihood that errors would occur? e.g., ignore contradictions in the other person's character.

asked May 27 '12 at 10:30

Humbug's gravatar image

Humbug
5181285

edited May 28 '12 at 11:26


First, I would recommend reformulating this question into a single question that doesn't refer to an entire complex of assumptions. Please ask one question, about one assumption, at a time.

That said, I'll address the many questions.

Do you agree that we build mental images of things in the world through our perception, logic, and free will?

Absolutely not. This idea of mental images is a false model of human cognition. Human cognition is in the form of concepts, not mental images. A mental image is, literally, and by definition, a product of imagination, not cognition.

A concept, in contrast, is a named classification of existents which serves to store general knowledge about the existents in that classification. A formed concept allows us to recognize things in its classification, thus allowing us to know things about a particular instance (unit), which are not otherwise obvious.

Modelling human cognition on imagination doesn't get us anywhere. In fact, it's counter productive, because the next logical step would be to say that we don't know the real world -- we only know about our private mental images. That is Immanuel Kant in spades: he said we can only know the "phenomenal" (apparent) world, and not the "noumenal" (real) world.

Do you agree that if we fall in love with someone, it is our mental image of them that we fall in love with and not that person?

Absolutely not. But our opinion of them, meaning the conceptual classifications we place them under, can be mistaken. We might think them honest when they are not. We might think them rationally troubled when they are just aggressive.

Do you agree that the closer the image of that person matches the image of ourselves, the stronger our love is toward that person?

We love what we consider to be virtuous. Whether we, ourselves, are what we'd consider virtuous, is a separate issue altogether.

Do you agree that the fear of being alone causes people to ignore evidences of reality that would change our image of that person to be someone that we would no longer love?

There is value in familiarity. This is what causes some people to settle for the devil they know.

Change (facing the unknown) is hard. Breaking up is hard to do. It's not obvious that one should break off a difficult relationship rather than "working" on it. Some people settle for a bad relationship because they've lost the confidence that they could find something better. Evidence for relationship failure must mount pretty high (especially for longer relationships) for a person to choose to abandon what he's invested so much time into.

Do you agree that as we grow and change, our mental images of ourselves will also grow and change? Do you agree that this means our love for the mental image of another person may also diminishes unless we SEE that the other person also grow and change AND we update our mental image of them accordingly?

We don't love mental images. We love people, based on our characterization of them. Characterizations of ourselves and others should change as we and others change. But keeping characterizations up-to-date with fact is an effort.

What we value in other people can change, over time, as we learn more about (or evade) the nature of virtue.

Also remember that to love is to prefer. If a better person comes along, that can affect one's love for the person one is with.

answered May 28 '12 at 11:31

John%20Paquette's gravatar image

John Paquette ♦
1002956310

Here are my thoughts on the list of questions in this Question.

Do you agree that we build mental images of things in the world through our perception, logic, and free will?

Approximately, yes, depending on exactly what is meant by "mental images." To be more precise, Objectivism would say we form concepts of reality (if we choose to be rational in our cognitive functioning). We also form a "sense of life," mostly subconsciously.

Do you agree that if we fall in love with someone, it is our mental image of them that we fall in love with and not that person?

No. This implies a breach between reality and "mental image." Objectivism would say that being rational means striving for as perfect an integration as possible between our concepts and reality, and that it is the reailty (as we understand it) that we fall in love with.

Do you agree that the mental image that we fall in love with may not accurately represent the character of that person?

Objectivism grants that man can err. The proper course in response to an error of knowledge is to correct one's error.

[UPDATE] An update to the question asks:

I agree with you that ideally we strive to ensure that our concepts matches reality as close as possible. However, since that is not a guaranteed due to possible errors....

This formulation seems to imply that man has no means to discover his errors and correct them. Objectivism disputes that view, which amounts to a denial that objectivity is possible to man. See OPAR, Chapter 4, "Objectivity." Refer also to the topic of "Objectivity" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon. Man is not compelled automatically to be objective, of course; he has a choice about it. Choosing the anti-objectivity path does, indeed, increase the "likelihood" that one will compound one's errors still further.

Do you agree that the closer the image of that person matches the image of ourselves, the stronger our love is toward that person?

What Objectivism says about love is encapsulated briefly in the following passage from VOS Chap. 1 (p. 35 in the Signet paperback edition):

Love, friendship, respect, admiration are the emotional response of one man to the virtues of another, the spiritual payment given in exchange for the personal, selfish pleasure which one man derives from the virtues of another man's character.... To love is to value. Only a rationally selfish man, a man of self-esteem, is capable of love -- because he is the only man capable of holding firm, consistent, uncompromising, unbetrayed values. The man who does not value himself, cannot value anything or anyone.

The reference to "payment given in exchange" will not subsume as much in the case of parental love for a newborn, since the newborn has virtually no developed "character" or "virtues," other than being alive and actively life-seeking (potentially adorably so when fully awake, alert, well fed, not crying, not hungry, not sick, etc.), and being the parent's chosen responsibility to care for. Also, valuing the virtues and character of another doesn't necessarily mean that those virtues and character closely match one's own virtues and character on a detailed level. Another person may be significantly different from oneself in the details (not to mention being of opposite gender, in the case of heterosexual love), yet close enough on a fundamental level for one to recognize one's own deepest values in the other person. Regarding romantic love, in particular, one of the excerpts in the topic of "Love" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon explains, in part:

"... romantic love...is a response to values. It is with a person's sense of life that one falls in love -- with that essential sum, that fundamental stand or way of facing existence, which is the essence of a personality. One falls in love with the embodiment of the values that formed a person's character, which are reflected in his widest goals or smallest gestures, which create the style of his soul -- the individual style of a unique, unrepeatable, irreplaceable consciousness. It is one's own sense of life that acts as the selector, and responds to what it recognizes as one's own basic values in the person of another.... it is a matter of...conscious and subconscious harmony.

Many errors and tragic disillusionments are possible in this process of emotional recognition, since a sense of life, by itself, is not a reliable cognitive guide.

The Question's list of questions continues:

Do you agree that the fear of being alone causes people to ignore evidences of reality that would change our image of that person to be someone that we would no longer love?

As the above Lexicon excerpt mentions, errors are certainly possible, as well as irrational fears and irrational responses.

Do you agree that as we grow and change, our mental images of ourselves will also grow and change?

If "mental images of ourselves" refers to "sense of life," then yes, change is possible under the right conditions.

Do you agree that this means our love for the mental image of another person may also diminishes unless we SEE that the other person also grow and change AND we update our mental image of them accordingly?

Lovers can certainly "outgrow" each other or otherwise "drift apart."

answered May 28 '12 at 00:57

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦
467718

edited May 28 '12 at 23:32

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Asked: May 27 '12 at 10:30

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Last updated: May 28 '12 at 23:32