Tag: objectivism

On Reading ‘Atlas Shrugged’

 

This post is a refutation of objectivism as presented in Atlas Shrugged. Paradoxically, the problem with doing so is not that the question is too hard but too easy. It’s simple to say that Rand writes bad characters and ponderous speeches and dismiss the lot of it out of hand. There are two problems with that approach. The first is that it convinces nobody. If you do find her ideas compelling then easy mockery does nothing to expose their flaws. The second is that Rand actually had a number of excellent observations, ideas that shouldn’t be discarded even if she’s a lousy writer (and the writing isn’t all lousy either). What follows is an honest attempt to understand and refute the philosophy of objectivism. We’ll start by looking at Rand’s best ideas.

What Rand Does Well

Rand herself lived through the Bolshevik revolution, and escaped to America only by “going Galt” in that she wrote off everything she had in the Soviet Union and made it here with only what she could carry. That’s entirely to her credit, as is her subsequent prosperity in The Land of the Free. Having lived through that part of history she has an amazing grasp on the arguments of the communists, their appeals to a sort of morality, and the fatal flaws that doom the prospect of a socialist utopia. Indeed, she often seems to have a prescient vision of how society has progressed. This is not because she’s accurately predicted the advancement of mankind’s morality, but because mankind’s morality doesn’t advance. All these things she describes were problems in her day, are problems in our day, and will be with us until the Lord returns in glory.

Weaponized Compassion

The woke reformer is attempting to immanentize the eschaton much like the communist idealist of Rand’s day. The communist urges us to have compassion for the working man; the woke evangelist urges us to remember the suffering of those who are discriminated against. In both cases, they demand that we break our eggs to make their omelet, and as with the communists I’m not holding my breath waiting for that woke omelet to appear.

Member Post

 

“The history of π is a quaint little mirror of the history of man.  It is the story of Archimedes of Syracuse, whose method of calculating π defied substantial improvement for some 1900 years, and it is also the story of a Cleveland businessman, who published a book in 1931 announcing the grand discovery that π was exactly […]

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Reason & Objectivism

 

Our discussion on Ayn Rand and Objectivism has — unsurprisingly — turned to questions of reason, rationality, and empiricism. As a number of members have pointed out, Rand’s claim that her philosophy is distinguished by its reliance on rationality is both self-flattery and self-deception: all philosophies rely on unproven and unprovable assumptions, particularly those regarding morality, the good life, etc. In this sense, Objectivism is no exception.

However, Objectivism is distinguished in its affinity for rationality. You can see this not only in its declarations on the matter and in its atheism, but in the way it makes its arguments. It’s premised on the idea that Truth is totally knowable and understandable to anyone who applies their mind, and it argues that its conclusions are objectively and demonstrably correct. Bear in mind further that Objectivism purports to be a whole philosophy of life — something classical liberalism, for instance, never claims for itself — and that one of Rand’s favorite aphorisms is that contradictions do not exist.