Ayn Rand is one of the most widely read philosophers of the twentieth century. … Academics have often dismissed her ideas as "pop" philosophy. As a best-selling novelist, a controversial, flamboyant polemicist, and a woman in a male dominated profession, Rand remained outside the academy throughout her life. Her works had inspired passionate responses that echo the uncompromising nature of her moral vision. In many cases, her audiences were either cultish in their devotion or savage in their attacks. The left was infuriated by her anticommunist, procapitalist politics, whereas the right was disgusted by her atheism and civil libertarianism. .
Art is man’s metaphysical mirror; what a rational man seeks to see in that mirror is a salute; what an irrational man seeks to see is a justification – even if only a justification of his depravity, as a last convulsion of his betrayed self-esteem.Chapter 3 Art and Sense of Life .
Do you believe in God, Andrei? No. Neither do I. But thats a favorite question of mine. An upside-down question, you know. What do you mean? Well, if I asked people whether they believed in life, theyd never understand what I meant. Its a bad question. It can mean so much that it really means nothing. So I ask them if they believe in God. And if they say they do—then, I know they dont believe in life. Why? Because, you see, God—whatever anyone chooses to call God—is ones highest conception of the highest possible. And whoever places his highest conception above his own possibility thinks very little of himself and his life. Its a rare gift, you know, to feel reverence for your own life and to want the best, the greatest, the highest possible, here, now, for your very own. To imagine a heaven and then not to dream of it, but to demand it.Source: We The Living Part One Chapter 9 .
One of the paradoxes of our age is the fact that the intellectuals, the politicians, and all the sundry voices that choke like asthma the throat of our communications media, have never gasped and stuttered so loudly about their devotion to the public good, and about the peoples will as the supreme criterion of value - and never have they been so grossly indifferent to the people. The reason, obviously, is that collectivist slogans serve as the rationalization for those who intend, not to follow the people, but to rule them. .
For she [Rand] further holds that objective reality is readily accessible by solitary individuals using words and logic alone. This proposition -- rejected by nearly all modern scientists -- is essentially a restatement of theworldview, a fundamental axiom of which is that the universe is made up of ideal essences or 'values' (the term Rand preferred) that can be discovered, dispassionately examined, and _objectively_ analyzed by those few bold minds who are able to finally free themselves from hoary assumptions of the past. Once freed, any truly rational individual must, by simply applying verbal reasoning, independently reach the same set of fundamental conclusions about life, justice and the universe. (Naturally, any mind that fails to do so must, by definition, not yet be free.) .
[F]rom the initial outline Ayn Rand provided, a very rich and powerful philosophy emerges – e.g., it solves such problems as science versus free will and moral responsibility, knowledge versus the fact of fallibility. Merely because Rand’s ideas were not born in academe or developed in full detail by her, it cannot be concluded that they are unsound. .
I have to say I found Ayn Rand’s philosophy laughable. It was "a white supremacist dreams of the master race," burnt in an early-20th century form. Her ideas didn’t really appeal to me, but they seemed to be the kind of ideas that people would espouse, people who might secretly believe themselves to be part of the elite, and not part of the excluded majority. .
Rand tended to believe that questions of fact could be determined by the manipulation of vague terms. This tendency is most clearly illustrated in her so-called "metaphysical" theory of reality, in which she tries to demonstrate the objectivity of reality and validate causality on the basis of cognitively empty tautologies such as "existence exists" and "A is A." .
But all of Rand's heroic capitalists triumph in industries that are now dead or bleeding. It's easy to write potboilers that posit sharp moral distinctions between the makers and takers when you live in a big-shouldered factory world where people still make things. .
This odd little woman is attempting to give a moral sanction to greed and self interest, and to pull it off she must at times indulge in purest Orwellian newspeak of the "freedom is slavery" sort. What interests me most about her is not the absurdity of her "philosophy," but the size of her audience (in my campaign for the House she was the one writer people knew and talked about). She has a great attraction for simple people who are puzzled by organized society, who object to paying taxes, who dislike the "welfare" state, who feel guilt at the thought of the suffering of others but who would like to harden their hearts. For them, she has an enticing prescription: altruism is the root of all evil, self-interest is the only good, and if you're dumb or incompetent that's your lookout. .
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