Ayn Rand

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Reply Mon 12 Jan, 2009 09:45 pm
you all have presumably heard of the creater of objectivism. Her book, Atlas Shrugged, is second only to the bible when it comes to total copies sold. Her proposed system where greed and ambition are seen as virtue, not vice. She planned a purely capitalistic, laisez faire society where the government existed simply to maintain social order and enforce contracts. So, are there any thoughts about one of the most controversial thinkers of the 20th century?
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2009 02:32 am
@nicodemus,
Atlas Shrugged is not the second most purchased book:
HowStuffWorks "21 Best-Selling Books of All Time"
List of best-selling books - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I have read the following books by Ayn Rand:
The Fountain Head
Atlas Shrugged
Anthem
Philosophy: Who Needs It?
Virtue of Selfishness

My advice: do not ever waste your time reading Ayn Rand. Read good books instead. If you want a novel, reach for the classic: Cervantes, Hemingway, Dostoevsky. If you want philosophy, reach for the classic: Plato, Locke, Russell. Listen, folks, you can disagree with my arguments, but I've read the material I discuss: and I can assure you that Rand is a waste of your time. If you happen to be interested in egoism, Rand is the last source to investigate. Spend time with Nietzsche instead.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2009 08:48 am
@nicodemus,
I second what D. Thomas has said. I have read Atlas Shrugged, The Virtue of Selfishness, and most of the Fountainhead, and I wish I had those moments of my life back. I could live with the second rate philosophy in the novels if the writing was actually good--which it is not. The characters are very shallow and have absolutely no humility. Robotic may be a nice way of putting how the characters come across. Her non-fiction collection are just atrocious--especially the essays contributed by Rand's boy-toy Nathaniel Braden.

Read anything before Rand. Then reread anything before Rand.
 
nicodemus
 
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2009 09:19 am
@nicodemus,
i disagree, it rang with me to hear someone start villifying the sanction of the victim as opposed to sanctifying, and i tend to agree with her "greed is good" mentality. Sure, the writing is a little shallow, but shes not trying to win a pulitzer, shes just trying to get her philosophy across and is assuming shes dealing with rational people who dont suffer the obsessive need to be entertained. She does tend to exagerate, and its true atlas shrugged would probably have gotten through to more people if she had put in shades of grey rather than black and white, but objectivism makes a lot of sense when applied to a world where the western ideas of morality are considered null and void.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2009 09:35 am
@nicodemus,
Objectivist philosophy made so much sense it pretty much destroyed the American economy.
 
goethe10
 
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2009 10:33 am
@nicodemus,
Not counting, it is just plain false!
 
nicodemus
 
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2009 11:45 am
@nicodemus,
1: how did it destroy the american economy- dont just say "look around" i want specific evidence linking practicing ceos to the downfall
2: what about it doesnt make sense
 
MJA
 
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2009 12:21 pm
@nicodemus,
Well, I'm halfway through The Fountainhead and have to say Ms. Rands characters are just like me. I can't wait to finish reading the book to find out what happens with me next.

A quote of hers: "Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but there own vision."

And from The Fountainhead a character named Ellsworth describing the universe: "Allthough there's no mystery about it all. It's very simple. All things are simple when you reduce them to fundamentals. You'd be suprised if you knew how few fundamentals there are. Only two perhaps to explain all of us. It's the untangaling, the reducing that's difficult--thats why people don't like to bother. I don't think they'd like the results either."

Do you have your own vision?
Can you reduce the universe to fundamental truth?
I would have liked to had lunch with Ms Rand,
Our converstion would have reduced everything that Way.
Reduced the universe to simply One.
I see truth that Way.
Imagine that.

=
MJA
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2009 06:25 pm
@nicodemus,
nicodemus wrote:
1: how did it destroy the american economy- dont just say "look around" i want specific evidence linking practicing ceos to the downfall
2: what about it doesnt make sense


1. Alan Greenspan wrote essays printed in the book by Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, and Greenspan admitted that many of his failed policies started as as Federal Reserve Chairman lead to the current economic crisis.

2. Just because someone wrote something that some people believe is true does not make it true. This is a mistake that many Objectivists fall to. The ball should be in your court attempting to argue for Objectivist philosophy rather than having the non-Objectivist argue against it. The second statement should be changed to "what about Objectivism makes sense."
 
MJA
 
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2009 08:03 pm
@nicodemus,
nicodemus wrote:
1: how did it destroy the american economy- dont just say "look around" i want specific evidence linking practicing ceos to the downfall
2: what about it doesnt make sense



Once the free market devoured the consumer's spend able income and future incomes called debt, they devoured themselves. Such is the veracious appetite of capitalistic greed.

=
MJA
 
nicodemus
 
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2009 09:17 pm
@nicodemus,
of course consumers will dispose of their income if they are idiots, they are quick to victimize themselves and villify the banks and creditors, but it was still the people who borrowed outside of their means and were punished for it, and in a system where rational self interest is combined with regulations of behavior (ie no murder, theft, assault) the strong and able rise to the top, while those lacking skill or drive drift to the bottom
 
MJA
 
Reply Wed 14 Jan, 2009 11:12 am
@nicodemus,
The American Dream

Get married, have children, and rather than teach and nurture them, dump them in day cares with the excuse of the importance of education, while racing off to make more money, to buy more things.
If the child can't sit still in this confinement, drug him and call it ADHD.
Send them off to school to teach them that the importance of education is about making money.
Teach them unnecessary complexities to confound or confuse them.
Put them into the burden of debt early with student loans of higher education, and the future slaves are born.
To keep up moral, tell them it's good to work so hard.
Teach them to buy a house and bury themselves financially alive.
And if there's any extra, get them to gamble it in money market rackets or schemes.
Have more children to keep the cycle going to carry the future loads.
And Oh, if your health fails from the intense burden of it all, the medical industry will help you for a small fee and take the rest.
The American Dream is slavery, and slavery is how this country was built and how it still remains.
Emancipation, Ya right!
To Freedom.

=
MJA

That's how I see it but is that how Ayn Rand saw it, I haven't read her enough to know?
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Wed 14 Jan, 2009 05:36 pm
@nicodemus,
Here is an excerpt on what is wrong with the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

Quote:
Rand spent 50 years and tens of thousands of pages of writing, developing and explaining her philosophy of Objectivism. The principles of Objectivism are as follows:

  • Everyone should act like greedy, selfish a$$holes.

That's it, I just saved you a lot of time.



Full Article found here
 
Zetetic11235
 
Reply Wed 14 Jan, 2009 06:59 pm
@MJA,
1) I would say that grossly simplistic is an understatement if one is asserting that Ayn Rand is somehow directly related to the financial crisis. Economics is a technical discipline, how much have you studied said discipline? How much research have you read by leading economists? I can say that I have only superficial understanding of this matter and this is true of everyone who has read nothing but popular econ books and advice from columnists.


2) That Ayn Rand has something to do with America's financial crisis would be a very good reason to read her books! So these statements a) "Ayn Rand is a waste of time and should not be read" and b) " Ayn Rand is in some sense directly impacting the American economy" are in conflict, unless the point is to keep people ignorant. So either it must be admitted for the sake of some form of logical consistency that c) Ayn Rand is in no direct way linked to the American economy and thus is pointless to read as she writes poorly or d)Ayn Rand had a direct impact on American economics, so reading her work is valuable.

3) Believing that literature, music ect. makes people do things they normally wouldn't is pretty shaky. It is the same argument that was used by the PMRC to try to kill off rock music....

4) Ayn Rand clearly has SOME influence on how SOME people materialize their emotions into thought i.e. she puts some ideers in ther heds, so her work has SOME significance, so it should be read (please do not say so does Curious George, cute rhetoric, sure, but come on..)
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Wed 14 Jan, 2009 07:34 pm
@Zetetic11235,
Zetetic11235 wrote:
1) I would say that grossly simplistic is an understatement if one is asserting that Ayn Rand is somehow directly related to the financial crisis. Economics is a technical discipline, how much have you studied said discipline? How much research have you read by leading economists? I can say that I have only superficial understanding of this matter and this is true of everyone who has read nothing but popular econ books and advice from columnists.


She is somehow directly related to the financial crisis. Alan Greenspan, a friend, editor, and fellow Objectivist (contributed a couple essays to Rand's nonfiction on economics) during Rand's lifetime went on to become the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. On his watch, much of the deregulation and policies that led to the economic crisis happened. Thus, rand is directly related to the crisis.

Zetetic11235 wrote:

2) That Ayn Rand has something to do with America's financial crisis would be a very good reason to read her books! So these statements a) "Ayn Rand is a waste of time and should not be read" and b) " Ayn Rand is in some sense directly impacting the American economy" are in conflict, unless the point is to keep people ignorant. So either it must be admitted for the sake of some form of logical consistency that c) Ayn Rand is in no direct way linked to the American economy and thus is pointless to read as she writes poorly or d)Ayn Rand had a direct impact on American economics, so reading her work is valuable.


It does not take reading Rand's philosophy to understand it. See my above post as that sums up the reason why. Not to mention, her impact involves promoting people to be selfish a$$holes. Reading the books is not going to enlighted anyone to how Rand had an influence on the economic crisis; instead studying the selfish a$$holes that created the crisis that have read Rand would prove far more valuable.

Zetetic11235 wrote:

3) Believing that literature, music ect. makes people do things they normally wouldn't is pretty shaky. It is the same argument that was used by the PMRC to try to kill off rock music....

Philosophy and religion tends to have more influence on people than other forms of communication. A philosophy that teaches selfishness as a virtue leads to many slippery slopes. This is a totally different argument than attempts to kill rock music or video games due to the influence that philosophy has on people's lives.

Zetetic11235 wrote:

4) Ayn Rand clearly has SOME influence on how SOME people materialize their emotions into thought i.e. she puts some ideers in ther heds, so her work has SOME significance, so it should be read (please do not say so does Curious George, cute rhetoric, sure, but come on..)


Her work may have some significance and influence, but that does not mean that it has to be read. As I have said, she poorly plagarized many thinkers (Nietzsche, Locke, Aristotle) and took others (cough cough Kant) out of context in order to make her ideas look better. Honestly, Ayn Rand is guilty for lacking academic integrity. That reason alone should give plenty of people reason to discount her ideas.

One final thought, why books filled with bad ideas? Why not spend time reading good books with good ideas? Much like people read books that others recommend, it makes sense to not read books that people would not recommend to anyone. I am just trying to steer people away from wishing they had the full week of their life back they spent reading Atlas Shrugged.
 
MJA
 
Reply Thu 15 Jan, 2009 10:10 am
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus wrote:
She is somehow directly related to the financial crisis. Alan Greenspan, a friend, editor, and fellow Objectivist (contributed a couple essays to Rand's nonfiction on economics) during Rand's lifetime went on to become the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. On his watch, much of the deregulation and policies that led to the economic crisis happened. Thus, rand is directly related to the crisis.



It does not take reading Rand's philosophy to understand it. See my above post as that sums up the reason why. Not to mention, her impact involves promoting people to be selfish a$$holes. Reading the books is not going to enlighted anyone to how Rand had an influence on the economic crisis; instead studying the selfish a$$holes that created the crisis that have read Rand would prove far more valuable.


Philosophy and religion tends to have more influence on people than other forms of communication. A philosophy that teaches selfishness as a virtue leads to many slippery slopes. This is a totally different argument than attempts to kill rock music or video games due to the influence that philosophy has on people's lives.



Her work may have some significance and influence, but that does not mean that it has to be read. As I have said, she poorly plagarized many thinkers (Nietzsche, Locke, Aristotle) and took others (cough cough Kant) out of context in order to make her ideas look better. Honestly, Ayn Rand is guilty for lacking academic integrity. That reason alone should give plenty of people reason to discount her ideas.

One final thought, why books filled with bad ideas? Why not spend time reading good books with good ideas? Much like people read books that others recommend, it makes sense to not read books that people would not recommend to anyone. I am just trying to steer people away from wishing they had the full week of their life back they spent reading Atlas Shrugged.


You could be right on all your judgements. She builds characters in her novels on absolute foundations of truth, which tells me she understood those truths. But terribly twist her characters in a most unnatural and dark way. I'm a slow reader and still am searching for any reason why.
I'll let you know what I think when I finish The Fountainhead.
Back to the book.

=
MJA
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 15 Jan, 2009 04:21 pm
@MJA,
Rand is related to a variety of America's financial problems as she has been so influential. Her "philosophy" crept into the right, infiltrated young minds who grew into significant policy makers. Economics is a technical discipline, but economists are not the only people establishing economic policy and policy that influences the economy.

Before you can say that Rand is even a mediocre writer you should be aware of the classics. That's Rand's trick: catch them before they have read Don Quixote or Crime and Punishment. Especially the later work.

I'm not sure how Rand builds her characters on "absolute foundations of truth". Rand's literature is highly romantic, egoistic drivel. It's the equivilant of James Fenimore Cooper, except, somehow, Rand manages to better Cooper at his game of absurd and unbelievable storytelling.

I think it was in Philosophy: Who Needs It?. Rand is reflecting on the last time she fell ill, her last opportunity to get down to some serious reading. She recalls reading an ad for some book. From that ad alone she determines that the book is hogwash - her arguments spun carelessly around her own dogmatic presumptions. Before you publish nasty criticism of someone else's work, it's probably best to actually read the work, or at the very least sample the material. But for Rand even that sort of academic curiosity and integrity is impossible.
 
nicodemus
 
Reply Fri 16 Jan, 2009 09:10 am
@nicodemus,
please understand that that was the only way to get through to people in the seventies, you couldn't just make pure and absolute allegories out of characters, you had to make them more in the fashion of greek gods. You had to give them flaws, interactions, but keep most of the divinity. her philosophy is not just be selfish, but be independant. Make yourself better than those around you not by lowering everybody else, but by raising yourself. If that is selfish, than so is nature. In nature, you will never see an animal such as a bear share food withanything but its young. Wolves do, but thats another survival mechanism and it allows a relatively small hunter to overcome larger prey. So if you count selfishness and greed as amoral off the bat, of course you are going to dislike her. And arent you dismissing her offhand after admitting that you dont need to read her works to know her philosophy is trash. Sure, her books aren't geared towards the academic. they stand on a middle ground, to academic for the common, too common for the academics. this was her one fault, but the philosophy remains the same, advance, thrive, dont be a parasite, dont tolerate parasites, live
 
MJA
 
Reply Fri 16 Jan, 2009 10:34 am
@nicodemus,
Ayn Rand on a bus.

I found myself sitting on a bus last night reading 'The Fountainhead' with only three other passengers. I asked the three total strangers out of the blue if they had any thoughts on Ayn Rand. Well the funniest thing happened next on that bus, something I'd never heard before ever on a bus, an intellectual debate of the highest intensity and degree broke out. And in the end everyone before leaving shook hands in total respect. Wow, I learned a lot about Ayn last night. Ms Rand was far more powerful than I thought, and respect should always be equally given to her that way.
I think she grasped the ultimate truth, but also think she as well as most had a very difficult struggle dealing with it.
Truth is powerfully hard to control.
And oops, there inlies a terrible weakness or a flaw of us all.
Back to the book.

=
MJA
 
RDanneskjld
 
Reply Fri 16 Jan, 2009 11:19 am
@nicodemus,
I think both the critics and the detractors of Ayn Rand are far too ardent in there criticism or praise of her work. I would concur that her Philosophy runs extremely thin in many area's. The proposed axiom's that her system of Objective knowledge is based on are quite frankly ludcrious in many respects. Though there a few points that can be of interest.

Just quite how Rand is being blamed for the current economic crisis I dont know,
I would never reccomend that someone shouldnt read a book that has been hugely influential as some of Rand's work. It has been especially influential to the Libertarian movement in the US, even with Rand's condemnation of Libertarianism movement. Her work certainly has value even if the value lay's in the History of Idea's
 
 

 
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