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Ayn Rand(25 posts)

Ayn RandWayne
Sep 20, 2002 7:13 AM
Have you read her works? What do you think of her philosophy (objectivism)? Will it last and will it have any influence on history?
re: Ayn Randjtolleson
Sep 20, 2002 7:24 AM
I guess I have issues with analyzing "will it last" or "will it have influence on history" because it isn't sea change stuff like Darwin.

Ayn Rand's philosophical view of the world manifests itself in many places including garden-variety libertarianism. Her world view (whether or not people always ascribe the label "objectivism" to it) will survive because it permeates a variety of political, social, and religious (or anti-religious) thinking. Whether 100 years from now any of it will be ascribed to Ayn Rand... I'm not sure.

But she'll be remembered, and objectivism will continue to be a source of perspective for many, without regard to what they call it.
She'll certainly be remembered for writingscottfree
Sep 20, 2002 7:30 AM
long, long unreadable 'novels' that will make you want to poke your own eyes out. Other than that, no.
yupDougSloan
Sep 20, 2002 7:39 AM
I was a philosophy major with English and political science minors, and am basically a conservative/libertarian. You would think I'd gobble up Rand like a devoted fan. I've tried, but as you say, her books are far too long and obtuse. I just can't bear to read them. I bet I've started Atlas Shrugged 10 times. I still don't know who John Galt is.

Maybe I should pick up the Cliff Notes versions.

Doug
So, what do you think of her philosophy...Wayne
Sep 20, 2002 7:48 AM
how (or was it) treated in your classes? Getting the essence of her philosophy takes about 3 or 4 sentences, you could maybe get verbose and do it in 10 or so, but she had to right two long, boring books to get it across?
Same word, different meaningsscottfree
Sep 20, 2002 8:29 AM
You're using the term 'philosophy' too loosely.

Rand has A philosophy, meaning a set of guidelines for living. All kinds of people and disciplines have A philosophy. Lance Armstong has a philosphy of training, but that doesn't make him a philospher. Mary Kay has a philosphy for selling cosmetics.

But philosophy, the discipline that is studied in college, is bigger and more complicated than that. Philosophy is the study of Big Questions: What is existence, what is Being, what does it mean to be human, how do we know things, is there a 'real' world out there for our senses to apprehend, or does it exist only subjectively within us? What is the Good? At the highest levels, when you cross into metaphysics, philosophy leads to contemplations of God. It's way up there.

By comparison, Ayn Rand is naught but simple shit. It's possible to talk about her ideas if you want, but the discussion will never rise the the level of 'philosophy.' It will always, basically, be just political.
Right...Wayne
Sep 20, 2002 10:01 AM
I was using philosophy in the sense of a world-view or general principles to guides one's life (like christianity or communism could be viewed as a philosophy). Not in the sense of philosophy as in a way to understand the universe, answer big questions. Does it even exist anymore in the latter form. We have science now that has proven highly effective at aquiring knowledge and answering questions. "Philosophy" only gave people interesting things to talk about, it never answered any questions.
who is john galtColnagoFE
Sep 23, 2002 7:09 AM
stolen from some website or other...this will spare you having to wade through her books:

Who is John Galt? It could be said that he was Ayn Rand's personification of Objectivism. He followed, and taught the basic principles of Objectivism, which are:

Metaphysis: "A is A" It is the duty of a human being to see the world as it is, not how one perceives it to be. There is no room for God, under John Galt's view of the world. "Rationality is the recognition of the fact that existence exists,.." ,and, "The good, say the mystics of spirit, is God, a being whose only definition is that he is beyond man's power to conceive--a definition that invalidates man's consciousness, and nullifies his concepts of existence."
Epistemology: John Galt rejects any acceptance of faith, and he rejects any skepticism that certainty of knowledge is not possible. "Walk into any college classroom and you will hear your professors teaching your children that man can be certain of nothing,..."
Human Nature: John Galt believes that man is a rational being who has complete control over his fate. Otherwise, you are "spending your life in apologies to every professional cannibal".
Ethics: Logic is the only virtue of any person. Irrational ideas are unethical, or dishonest. "Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing but rational goals", and, "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."
Politics: John Galt believes that only pure Capitalism is acceptable. That it is the only form of government where the "initiation of force" is not used against businesses and individuals.
Esthetics: Art is only art if it creates or shows the artist's view of reality.
John Galt believed that America was founded by rational men, and that he was going to lead America back to those truths. "This country--the product of reason--could not survive on the morality of sacrifice. It was not built by men who sought handouts. It could not stand on the mystic split that divorced man's soul from his body."--John Galt.
Really?Jomo Kenyatta
Sep 23, 2002 1:10 PM
I actually enjoyed reading them (I read Atlas Shrugged and the FountainHead when I was 16). They do start out slow though...
I think she makes some good points, but she certainly misses the boat. Missing the boat, even if not by much, is still missing the boat. :)
Good one...Wayne
Sep 20, 2002 7:45 AM
I never even finished Fountain Head but I thought Atlas Shrugged got going after about 500 pages!
Nonetheless, she seemed to articulate a philosophy that pretty much agrees with my own. I think she will be remembered, afterall, can you name another 20th century philosopher? But i don't think she will ever find any kind of wide acceptance.
Sartre? nmDougSloan
Sep 20, 2002 7:48 AM
I thought he was earlier,Wayne
Sep 20, 2002 7:51 AM
goes to show what I know. What was his philosophy?
Existentialism, which was THE hot philosophy ofscottfree
Sep 20, 2002 7:56 AM
the mid- to late 20th Century.

Don't want to get pedantic here, but you should no that few if any academics take Rand seriously as a 'philosopher,' She's really a third-rate political polemicist, and a dreary one at that. Even if, as Doug points out, you agree with her in theory, reading her is like dredging scum off a pond.
so it's safe so conclude that you don't like her?mr_spin
Sep 20, 2002 8:59 AM
:)

I've never read any of her stuff, but I did see the movie made from "The Fountainhead." She is the credited screenwriter. Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal. I think Cooper and Neal had an affair during that film. Roark reminded me of Timothy McVeigh.

There were a bunch of guys who started a super secret company called "Rearden Steel" a few years ago. I guess that name comes from Atlas Shrugged. It's now not so secret and called Rearden Studios.
Yes, I agree...Wayne
Sep 20, 2002 9:12 AM
her writing is boring, but what about her ideas? Do you think your life or society as a whole would be better if it was widely accepted and practiced?
Not me, but thenscottfree
Sep 20, 2002 9:19 AM
I'm a communist.
Bad timing...Wayne
Sep 20, 2002 9:56 AM
you've picked the losing team after the fact! Ah, if only it was the 20's, 30's, even the '80's maybe there would be hope for your cause. Oh well, just join the democratic party that's the best shot communism has at getting it's ideas incorporated into public policy.
Already joined!scottfree
Sep 23, 2002 4:52 AM
Hell, I work for the Democratic Party! They're a conservative bunch, but zany & fun in their own reactionary way.
Fountainhead=yes, the rest=blahterry b
Sep 20, 2002 11:58 AM
I really liked the Fountainhead, and in its limited context (the art world) her philosophy might actually be tenable. You may get a reasonable argument from the women who have read her though since her female characters seem to be quite willing to be abused in order to achieve some higher ideal.

Atlas Shrugged I thought was largely a crock. Essentially the Fountainhead applied to the business world and expanded by a few hundred pages. The notion that the world would collapse if the captains of industry left and locked themselves away in a secluded valley seems pretty ridiculous. I'm guessing we'd get along fine without Gates, Buffet, Lay, Perot and Trump. Rand seems to assume the successful classes got there through drive, intelligence and innovation when in fact it's often due to the privilege of birth and just plain luck. In her era, you might have been able to make a case for Ford, but Gould, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Carnegie were thieves first and philanthropists second.

You have to remember though that Rand was writing in response to what appeared to be the emergence of Socialism (and Communism as in the 1919 Revolution) and she was actually recognizing the major flaws in those systems - namely that if you remove competition and individuality while trying to equalize the masses, your society will ultimately fail.

Long-lasting impact - nah, she's not viewed in the same pantheon as the other 20th thinkers (Sartre, Whitehead, Santayana) rather I think she's viewed more as an author.
Stirred up the pot a bit didn't you?rtyszko
Sep 21, 2002 6:09 AM
I've read most everything that she and her lover Nathaniel B. wrote and I'd have to say that on the surface it appeals to most who could stand to read it (she's widely viewed as only a "fair" writer) I mean, the idea of selfishness without harming others sounds good, but is nearly impossible to practice. On another note, as Michael Shermer (sp?) pointed out in his book "Why people believe wierd things" she'll not be taken seriously because her followers turned her and Objectivism into something akin to a cult in which eventually (because of their extra-marital affairs) turned the two principles against eachother. I think that he might have something on this at skeptics.com. IF not, pick up the book, he talks about other things that most of us believe in and sets about trying to debunk their validity.

Bob
Shermer's book is great...Wayne
Sep 23, 2002 3:10 AM
I've already read it. Funny how Rand has her own "religious" cult following now, and apparently was a fairly intolerant person herself (and hypocrite).
typified by the 80s "greed is good" mentalityColnagoFE
Sep 23, 2002 7:06 AM
Not that big of a fan personally. Ever see the South Park episode where Officer Barbrady learns to read in order to solve a crime and then later comes across Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead and after reading it decides never to read again? Hilarious!
Was that the...Wayne
Sep 23, 2002 9:52 AM
chicken f**ker episode? If so that was a good one.
People who equate Rand with "greed is good", don't get it. The essence of Rand is that the goal of your life is your own personal happiness. In work this means doing something that you love and striving to do it well. That should bring you wealth, but it's not about money for money's sake which is what greed implies.
rand was used a lot in the 80s to justify that mentality thoughColnagoFE
Sep 23, 2002 12:11 PM
sure it was a perversion of what she was saying, but I can see how someone can get that out of what she says if you do a surface scan of it and don't really analyze the whole message.
I think Rand will probably never be excepted...Wayne
Sep 24, 2002 3:04 AM
by more than a small minority of even the "thinking" people in society who analyze what and why they have the political/social beliefs they do. Liberals don't like her because of her "enlightened self-interest". Although liberals I think tend not to be nearly as "Christian" as conservatives in ideology, they take the "I am my brother's keeper" way more seriously. This is clearly a principle rejected by objectivism. On the other hand, conservatives, who ideologically are more aligned with objectivism reject her because of her anti-religion position.