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What are your thoughts on Ayn Rand?

  1. Jan 29, 2010 #1
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 29, 2010 #2
    Cult of personality.
  4. Jan 30, 2010 #3
    Knowing Rand's heritage and past, her writings and philosophies - a direct rebuttal of authoritarianism/socialism - make perfect sense, in context. In describing a sort of fundamental reality of human nature it is lacking, but still useful.

    Loved The Fountainhead. I read it as a novel of fiction, knowing nothing beforehand of her philosophies or history. It's just a darn good yarn. Never made it through Atlas Shrugged despite several attempts.
  5. Jan 30, 2010 #4
    Yeah I agree with you here. I read and thoroughly enjoyed several of her books (including Atlas Shrugged :wink:) back in highschool before really learning anything about her.

    Though she makes some good thoughtful points, she really does comes across as a nut-job in some of her public appearances. The question and answer session of this interview is particularly strange.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/FzGFytGBDN8&hl=en_US&fs=1&"></param><param [Broken] name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/FzGFytGBDN8&hl=en_US&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  6. Feb 5, 2010 #5
    I consider Rand's work to be pseudophilosophy, and quite frankly, her system of morals is destructive and flawed, it is only one step behind from the power fantasies of an invalid, and her sophomoric reasons for hating Kantian epistemology is truly embarrassing imho.
  7. Feb 6, 2010 #6
    Can you explain this some more?

    I think Rand nailed it perfectly how man is alone and must make choices based on egoism all the time, both small things and big things in life.
    Her philosophy is really quite obvious in a way, it explains many things that are maybe not well known, but still clear as day once put on paper.

    I don't think she is claiming that people should be selfish to the extent that it hurts other people, it is rather a realistic view of how man is selfish by default by his very existence.
    We must take care of ourselves.
  8. Feb 6, 2010 #7
    egoism is exactly the problem of Rand's philosophy, much like Heidegger's ontology on the superimposition of the power of man, not only that, Objectivism begs the question "Is one's life the ultimate value of ethics? what of altruism then? Is selfless concern for the welfare of others truly "unethical" or "less ethical" in Objectivism's view? what of giving one's life for the lives of others? is it truly irrational and unethical then? Rand does not fully address this dilemma in her ethical system, in Atlas Shrugged, every person who has done acts of charity are portrayed in a negative light. Also the implications of Objectivism's view that reality is independent of consciousness, how then does this answer the hard problems of consciousness? why awareness of sensory information exist at all? Objectivism's implications on the philosophy of mind does not in any way address this sort of problems, it just assumes the existence of reality independent of consciousness as true, that's why I consider Rand's philosophy as both half-baked and confusing.
  9. Feb 6, 2010 #8

    Doug Huffman

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    Gold Member

    Rand is to philosophy as Ramanujan is to mathematics. L. Peikoff is to Rand's Objectivism as G. H. Hardy is to Ramanujan's mathematical conjectures. Argumentation on Randianism without a qualified defense is just argumentative. We need Peikoff.

    An assertion tautologically true is trivial. A=A An assertion not falsifiable is not scientific, thus supernatural and unlikely 'objective'.
  10. Feb 6, 2010 #9
    Could you rephrase this so as to be more clear as to what exactly it is you are saying?

    I'm fairly certain that life is a prerequisite of ethics...
    I think that the point is to say that the concept of 'self-less-ness' is flawed. That in normal human interaction, self-ish-ness is unavoidable. That self-sacrificial acts are indeed self-ish.

    And we've known for quite some time that altruism arises from group cohesion. It is often observed to be greatly in the interest of the individual to behave in an altruistic manner when interacting with the community.
    I... don't... think... that it does... Why do you feel as if it should?

    Objectivism is a philosophy, ultimately just a silly game we play. In serious discourse the difficult and worthwhile questions are left to science.

    Do you know of a philosophy that does satisfactorily answer the hard problems of consciousness?
    Again, awareness is a property of brains. Gushy jiggly organs. Any meaningful progress on this question can only be expected to come from scientific investigation.
    What we have managed to discern about the workings of reality, demands that we accept it's independence of conciousness. It is awareness that is dependent upon consciousness; which is itself an emergent property of biology, which is actually highly complex chemistry, which is of course really complicated physics, which is our attempt at a detailed description of reality. Not the other way round. The entire enterprise of science works on the fact that observation and experimentation are relative only in the Einsteinian sense of the word.

    You are sounding awfully solipsistic here. I mean, even babies eventually figure out that when they cover their eyes, the minds around them still are capable of discovering their presence. Which, of course, is the other basis of ethics: empathy.

    Not that I am one to jump on the Rand 'wagon, but I do think she made some noteworthy observations on the human condition.
  11. Feb 6, 2010 #10
    She stated what she considered obvious, in a very shallow and unreflective way, then called her beliefs: self-evident to any rational person; and then labelled anyone who questioned or disagreed with her, as dishonest, irrational and ignorant.

    That's not philosophy, anymore than Scientology is science.
  12. Feb 6, 2010 #11
    my thoughts exactly
  13. Feb 6, 2010 #12

    Assuming that was true, then are we to forgo altruistic acts for the sake of only self-interest? Objectivism teaches that all acts of selflessness are to be avoided, as I have said, the main problem of Rand's philosophy is its' superimposition of the importance of the "self" rejecting altruistic acts as unethical/ less ethical which is wrong

    professional philosophy is not a "silly game" and to assume that "worthwhile questions are left to science" is just plain scientism and hubris

    Not philosophy, but science, has neuroscience been able to explain the subjective aspects of consciousness? not even close.

    Those who insist on a scientific attempt to answer the subjective aspect of consciousness are making a categorical error, the objective of science is to validate statements that are epistemically objective, but are not ontologically objective, all conscious experiences are ontologically subjective, they are experienced subjectively, for a doctor who diagnosed a patient with back pain is an objective fact of medical science, the pain itself is ontologically subjective, to have an objective and scientific account of consciousness is absurd and impossible, conscious experiences are irreducible to physical states, where consciousness is concerned, the existence of the appearance is the reality.
  14. Feb 7, 2010 #13
    Understanding the problems inherent in subjective experience, which Rand either didn't understand or chose to ignore, is not the same as advocating for the non-existense of external reality.

    In philosophy, dealing with solipsism is very important to any epistemology.
    It has only very rarely been claimed to be a valid ontological theory.
    Attacking the former, as being equivalent to the latter, is purely a strawman argument.

    And Rand's books are full of strawmen, with regards to politics, economics and philosophy.

    She wrote pulp novels for a juvenile audience, full of standard teen angst issues about individuality and identity. On that level, she was a success.

    There are very good reasons she is not considered a serious writer or philosopher.
  15. Feb 26, 2010 #14
    I don't think she was virulent against the act of altriusm as many people have claimed on this forum. I think that she had a big issue with altruism when it involved the person perpuatating the act of charity to make large sacrifices from himself as indicated by these two quotes here:
    source: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/charity.html. So she definetely did not completely abhor charity giving, she believe that it should be applied in certain circumstances and that that people should not be naturally obligated to be charitable simply because of their large source of wealth.

    If there is a large risk that you could lose your life, I think it would be unethical to sacrifice your own life for the lives of strangers that you do not place large value on. why would it be moral to risked your own life for others but in every other circumstance in your life, you don't make big sacrifices . You don't sacrifice your want for wanting to buy a house in order to buy houses for people who could not afford to buy a house . Hear is a scenario you should considered : If you were in a situation where you could stop two planes with terrorists who took thirty total strangers hostage and a second plane consisted of your wife and kid being held hostage by terrorists, it is pretty obvious that you would choose to save the people that you value more and that would for most people be the plane with the wife and kid and Objectivism permits this sort of behavior . Also, if their were minimal self-sacrifice involved , ayn rand would not object to saving the hostage on the plane. More quotes on self sacrifice by ayn rand.
  16. Feb 27, 2010 #15
  17. Feb 27, 2010 #16
    Yes. Compare Dagney Taggart from Atlas Shrugged... and Bella from Twilight. Same issues.
    If you can make it through her awful prose, I'm guessing it would have an influence on you.
    So is Stephanie Meyer, that doesn't say much.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2010
  18. Feb 28, 2010 #17
    Please. Bella is about as comparable to Dagney Taggart in the realm of character and personality as is a fresh apple and a piece of iron are comparable in taste. Dagney and Bella are not even in the same ballpark.

    who or what self-elected literary officials defines who work serious writing? Many so called literary critics gave praise Catcher in the rye and called it "critically acclaimed" . But when I read the book, it look like I was reading some thirteen year old kid's journal. The journal of some angsty teen should not be considerec critically acclaimed . Sure both Stephanie Meyer and Ayn rand are influential writers, but Stephanie's meyer's books were popular for the same reason Justin Bieber is popular as a "musician". Because they were "entertaining" to their broad fanbase of teens and tweenr. But ayn rand, inspired many entrepreneurs, philosopher thinkers and how much value you place on individualism versus the collective. I would say she is just as influential in the same way that US civil rights leaders convinced americans, mainly white americans, that jim crow and racism were immoral . Thats how much effect I think she had on americans.
  19. Feb 28, 2010 #18
    That's the saddest thing I've heard in a while. Sorry for your loss.
  20. Mar 28, 2010 #19
    I'd just like to point out that none of the above makes her wrong.

    We all behave that way. We consider our own beliefs self-evident to any rational person, and label anyone else dishonest, irrational and/or ignorant. And some of us are correct.
  21. Mar 29, 2010 #20

    My personal opinion about Ayn Rand is that she's the most toxic waste-product to come out of Russia since Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. What the latter did for Germany, the former did for America. Neither of them in any direct way, however, but both of them by influencing the "personal convictions" of people who would later come into positions of power.

    Sorry for the bluntness, but you have to be a moron to consider Ayn Rand a philosopher.
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