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Why do people hate Ayn Rand?

  1. Jan 9, 2011 #1
    I have read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountain head. I personally believe in them, and many other people that I talk to also believe in them. So why do other people hate the books and her? What train of thought gets them to disliking her work?
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  3. Jan 9, 2011 #2

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    Can you get more specific on the things that you often see criticized? Thanks.
  4. Jan 9, 2011 #3
    I think that is the problem. Criticism of Rand is for the most part non-specific and a total smear job by collectivist. People love or hate her. At the end of the day, you have to live by your own judgement, and not substitute others judgement for your own. Physicists have more chance in this regard, but even physicists betray their 'craft', and in a social context will betray rationality because they are morally ambivalent.
    Individualists like Rand, collectivists/statists do not. Why do they hate her? Because they are not honest. Knowledge or conflict is a threat to them, as opposed to an opportunity, i.e. a problem to resolve. Their theory of values is a betrayal of their nature as human beings, lest they accept reason as the standard of value. They don't want to acknowledge reasons, laws, but rather to live indulgently by relative or dogmatic standards. i.e. Being loved for being, not for anything they might think or achieve. It is the ultimate form of freedom they want; freedom from humanity. Yet they will describe her as a hater of humanity. All smear! You will have to read for yourself, and address any apparent contradictions yourself. She poses no threat to honest, rational people.
  5. Jan 10, 2011 #4
    For some Rand bashing by an established philosophy professor, see Brian Leiter's blog:


    For an article that presents Rand's philosophical ideas, see http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ayn-rand/. Note that this article simply presents ideas - it is not evaluative and does not present any criticisms or comparison to more widely accepted philosophy. From the SEP article:
    Even Rand didn't consider her novels to be philosophy... they're literature. You can imagine how academic philosophers can become easily frustrated by those who don't recognize this and refuse to debate the topic within established rules of philosophical discourse.
  6. Jan 10, 2011 #5


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    Most likely because Ayn Rand's criticism is for the most part non-specific and a total smear job of collectivists.

    You get what you give.
  7. Jan 10, 2011 #6


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    I once saw Ayn Rand on a television show. A person in the audience started a question with something like "I used to believe in your philosophy but now I know better" and Ms. Rand simply walked off the stage. Yes, the questioner was being rude, but Ms. Rand, by walking off, was putting down everyone else in the audience, as well as the host of the show.

    I certainly wouldn't say there is any reason to "hate" Ms. Rand, by from what I have read about and by her, she was an egotistical, self centered, not very likeable person. Here "philosphy" was basically "get yours and never help other people".
  8. Jan 10, 2011 #7
    The left hates her because of her devastating deconstruction of the foundations of socialism and communism.

    The right tolerates her but doesn't like her because she's an athiest.

    Simple enough I hope.
  9. Jan 10, 2011 #8
    I disagree. She dedicated entire essays to debating issues. If called to give a response in an interview there is no opportunity to present a comprehensive reply. It is a question of 'economy' or context. Perhaps if people looked at her philosophy in my depth, they would see more. I think it could also be argued in the case of her fiction, that their is a 'poetic license'. i.e. A symbolism or romanticism. Having studied her philosophy, she did not discard the context of ideas. She does make mistakes I believe...but her value is profoundly great, particularly her theory of values. She is the 'correct' next step after Nietzsche, who she was influenced by as a youth. Incidentally, his theory of values was likely corrupted by religion, which he came to later repudiated, but not without retaining the underlying collectivist creed. i.e. Christian concept of values. Rand struggled formulating a theory of values in the early years, i.e. Evident in The Fountainhead, where you can see Nietzschean influences.
    I consider her 'moralism' to be a product of religion.
  10. Jan 10, 2011 #9
    Actually, your recollection is not correct. The guest did ask that question...interesting that you could get the quote right, but then say she walked off the show. Implied bias. She argued that she did not think it appropriate to answer her because the show was about her philosophy, and not 'in effect' about the struggles of the guest to understand it. Fair argument - she did not know the person so how can she speak to her issues. She was blunt in reply, but you could argue that she was justified, and also incensed by the question. You can see the interview with Phil Donahue on You Tube, I think there are 3 parts to it.

    She did not defined these words the way you do. She did not consider use the word 'egotistical', she used the word 'egoism' to convey that a person should be primarily self-interested, as is implied by the concept of a trader (capitalist) who exchanges value for value. If you don't 'get to give' (implied caution), then you 'give to get' (confidence) in a trade context. She did not repudiate charity; she thought it was a side issue. i.e. She should have welcomed Warren Buffett's motives, but probably not a liberal like Bill Gates, who appears to be more motivated by the 'altruistic' desire to be a showman. But that is my interpretation. She does have 'unpleasant' aspects to her, but then they are personality issues, like tragic and moralistic, which I don't see as required by her philosophy. I personally don't use the word 'evil', or 'irrational', so I think there are mistakes. But her theory of values is very special.....she provides a correction to the flaws in Nietzsche, no doubt because she was able to greatly repudiate the religious impact on philosophy. I say thank you.
  11. Jan 10, 2011 #10
    Not quite. Both dislike her because she provides a coherent conceptual framework where they offer moral skepticism, or as you imply theistic dogmatism. This makes them feel 'fundamentally' insecure or vulnerable, so they are inclined to minimize or repudiate the significance of her work, or to totally smear and misrepresent her.
    People don't like to be changed fundamentally...they tend to like slow incremental change. She shows that people need a total overhaul, and its a lot of work, and they don't have time for it...particularly since they realise any overhaul would place them in conflict with the rest of the world, so we seem destined to change over the long term...even if there are people who got her on their first reading. That is the power of democracy....to sabotage progress. Incidentally, she did not repudiate democracy...but only I think because she thought it could deliver minimal govt. I personally disagree. Democracy is merely legitimatised collectivism. Reason is not the standard of value....so she made mistakes. Sadly I don't get the sense with the Ayn Rand Institute has moved on much...they paradoxically seem to threat her like a god. Strategically inept I would say....bless their hearts. :)
  12. Jan 10, 2011 #11
    I would describe it as "get yours and in doing so you will help other people".

    Great ideas never come from the masses, they always come from the individual and in placing everyone in a collective, it robs both the individual as well as the masses. From time to time you will get individuals who will produce while in a collective, not because they are in a collective but in spite of being so, but more often the individual will sit back and allow the collective to produce for them, thereby robbing both themselves as well as everyone else of what their full potential could bring.

    I think people hate her because they are too relient on others, which isnt neccesarilly a bad thing we all rely on others. Even the great individuals rely on others to build or buy their products, but those choices are voluntary. Those on the left hate her because their concept of helping others requires them to take resources from the masses(social theft) to give to the individual. Those on the right that hate her it is because they require the masses to live the way they feel is right(moral theft) so they, an individual, can live the life they want. Both beliefs seem more self centered and selfish to me than anything expoused by Ayn Rand.
  13. Jan 10, 2011 #12
    The problem with that is that people might interpret 'others as being the end', i.e. She repudiated utilitarianism. Helping others was secondary, even if inherent in any trade. i.e. A person trades if their is ultimately some benefit to them.

    I agree. I am currently reading the History of Science, and its remarkable how just a few people really did a lot, how a great many scientists said 'You should do this experiment', and just how healthy the pursuit of objective facts makes people. Why is why engineers and geologists are more prone to accept Rand than say physicists perhaps because they are more likely to rationalise.

    I think you are legitimately drawing a point of differentiation, though I don't think the issue is voluntarism. Conditionality is the issue. They want to depend on others, as opposed to being 'traders' as Rand indicated. They want to be loved for subjective (i.e. moral relativism) or intrinsic (i.e. for being), not for reasons, i.e. things they do.
    Actually, you are conveying my earlier point...she repudiated your conception of selfish. That selfish is doing as you please....as the collectivist defines it. There is an objective measure of value. Two step process:
    1. Act in your self interest or for others
    2. What constitutes your self-interest - respect for facts, God or subjective indulgence
    The fact that they are 'selfish' as you say is if they are more desperate, in the sense that their values do not serve them. In such cases, if its moral to give, its practical to take. The trader cannot make that rationalisation, unless he thinks values are subjective, as Nietzsche did....and he grew up in a religious family. I think if you did an empirical study, you would find natural scientists would commit fewer crimes than other areas of academic achievement. Because of respect for facts and objectivity...even acknowledging the moral conflict. I think they would happily compartmentalise their lives.
  14. Jan 10, 2011 #13


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    Soon after Atlas came out, Bill Buckley, editor of the newly created National Review magazine, did not know quite what to make of it and assigned Atlas for review to the famous http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whittaker_Chambers" [Broken] who had recently joined NR. In 1957 Chambers was one of the most famous former collectivists, former communists, former spies in the US. Just before WWII, Chambers finally rejected communism, left the communist underground in the US and condemned it, later testifying in HUAC and the courts. Chambers was also a brilliant Columbia educated writer and linguist, with an encyclopedic knowledge of the sweep of history, and who became one of TIME magazine's top editors after jettisoning communism.

    At the time of the book review Buckley was creating the coherent intellectual foundations of the conservative right in America, and negotiating with various intellectual bents including libertarians, rejecting some of nuttier ones such as the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Birch_Society" [Broken]. Though Rand was gaining a following at the time, I think it fair to say that it was this review that stopped her momentum, or at least ended her chances of gaining further serious intellectual respect.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/222482/big-sister-watching-you/flashback" [Broken], Whittaker Chambers, NR, December 1957.
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  15. Jan 10, 2011 #14
    Having argued already that Rand is often smeared....you take it upon yourself to dig up smear from the 1950s. Should we stop thinking because you acknowledge this person as a genius....thus falling for a popular fallacy...argument from authority. Citing smears must be the lowest form of debate....or the laziest?
    How can you argue that she was not taken seriously...since the 1950s her two most popular books have never been out of print. That feat is performed by the bible (her nemesis) and a few others. Not that it is important. It is true to say that she was not taken seriously by 'serious philosophers', but that is less so today, and like any philosopher, it takes time to change values. It does not help that philosophers are mostly academics detached from the real world, and that they hold deep seated contradictions in the realm of epistemology. It does not help that they are govt funded, so pursuing a govt agenda from the start. It would be miraculous to expect 'serious philosophers' to take her seriously.
    Ask yourself why lay persons take would prefer to read her books than philosophers. Dare I say she is more coherent and relevant. He is not representative of them all, but having attended a lecture by a specific philosopher a month ago, its not uncommon to hear philosophers acknowledge that they are really just wasting your time. They have nothing to contribute to the issues...that they are sorry they ever became a philosophy...it was just an opportunity that come up when they met an academic at the pub. But its an income...so at your cost they will happily recite/critique other philosophers. That is what you are doing, and offering no value in the process.
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  16. Jan 10, 2011 #15


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    You're having some problems with usage. Smear: : a usually unsubstantiated charge or accusation against a person or organization. Here's some help: what you've just posted is a smear: calling Chambers critical book review a smear without substantiation, attributing to me the use of the term "genius" when I did not, suggesting that I ask you to "stop thinking" when I did no such thing and only point out that Chambers had a background with collectivists and was thus likely understood them if anyone did. Then, after putting together your response without the trouble to construct complete sentences you call the debate lazy.
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  17. Jan 10, 2011 #16


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    Because like dime store novels escapism sells, in this case to secret mountain fortresses.
  18. Jan 10, 2011 #17
    Any kind of philosophy which attempts to define human nature and tell us how to live will attract critics.

    She is clever, she makes some intelligent arguments, but in the end, the area she discusses is still gray.

    Add to this, that many people take her philosophy as justification of what others believe to be corrupt, immoral, dishonorable, or destructive to our collective environment. By ones own rational self interests, the biosphere could be destroyed the day after they die via nuclear holocaust, without their concern. But some like to say, we're beyond that attitude or above it. How far beyond or above complete and total self interest one is depends on who they are.

    Personally, I think that humans, like many other species are social animals which primarily generate their will, and enjoyment from social motivations. Our human nature/reward systems in the brain, as well, as our success as a population are dependent on relationships with the world around us.

    Still, this is a subjective area in many ways. Who is to say this is who we are, and how we should live, or that is. I think anyone who thinks they have everything figured out too much has their head up there *** too far.

    I don't hate Ayn Rand, but reading her work isn't going to affect who I decide to be.
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  19. Jan 10, 2011 #18
    Well, it was an appropriate description of what you said...People can refer to your original post...I said 'genius' to sumise your paragraph. You were citing his smear. He attacks her work of fiction as if it was her philosophy. 'Stop thinking' is implied by citing smear, when there are more credible/factual/interesting things to cite....a litany of them. It says something about your sense of objectivity. But you can digress with 'letter of the law' interpretations of what I write, and drop the context, that is your liberty. You assume that collectivists are self-aware...they are not. They repudiate science at its root - objectivity. Actually, I suggested two alternates....one was lazy.
  20. Jan 10, 2011 #19


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    AndrewSheldon; I think it is an insult to (the legacy of) Nietzsche to even compare Ayn Rand to him. Nietzsche was a profound philosopher with original and deep insight. Ayn Rand's philosophy on the other hand is generally considered shallow and unoriginal. Her works does not affect philosophy as a field of study, and never has, else only negligibly. This is possibly the reason why it has become of its own choice the counterpart to most other philosophical views, leaning on the ideological thrust rather than sufficient reason. Strawmen is the name of that game.

    Apart from her metaphysical and epistemological views which I strongly disagree with, she is interesting to me as a women of her time, but doesn't really have much to offer today.
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  21. Jan 10, 2011 #20
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