#1 Objectivism and the American sense of life07-31-2008, 03:59 PM
I decided to make this thread in the interest of promoting the philosophy of Objectivism. Many of you may have heard about this philosophy, but suffer from misconceptions about it. Others may never have heard about it at all, most likely due to a profound lack of interest in philosophy. This is what I'd like to address.
“The men who are not interested in philosophy need it most urgently: they are most helplessly in its power”
I'll give a very brief introduction to Objectivism, and go more in depth if you show interest in it.
Objectivism is the philosophy of reason. Unlike other philosophies, which dictate that you need to take certain things on faith and/or appeals to subjective feelings, the ethics of Objectivism are epistemologically and scientifically proven as absolutes (and among these absolutes are man's right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness). Objectivists are first and foremost advocates of reason, and by extension of that, advocates of rational self-interest and free market capitalism; the American way of life. Due to the large degree of individual freedom, America (the only country founded on philosophy) is the morally superior country in the world today -- because of this fact, Objectivists advocate a foreign policy of self-interest. I very strongly recommend that article, which primarily deals with the war on terror (of which Objectivists are ardent supporters -- although they greatly differ on the way that the war is currently being waged).
Objectivism is currently advanced by the Ayn Rand Institute, which is dedicated to spearhead a cultural renaissance that will reverse the anti-reason, anti-individualism, anti-freedom, anti-capitalist trends in today's culture. Ayn Rand herself, as you may know, is the American philosopher who lived in New York from 1926-1982. Her best selling book, Atlas Shrugged, is regarded as the second most influential book of the 20th century, and has recieved wide acclaim -- primarily from Republicans (as well as Libertarians, though they are perverting everything that Objectivism stands for).
I'll end this opening post by providing you with a few interesting resources, in the event you'd like to learn more about this philosophy. If you already consider yourself a critic of Objectivism per se, you will benefit regardless -- in the best case scenario by clearing up your misconceptions, or in the "worst" case scenario by improving your ability to defend the basic principles of liberty, as well as free market capitalism, of which I believe you're all in favor of here.
- The Ayn Rand Lexicon, where you'll find information on the Objectivist stance on all major issues, grouped from A-Z.
- The Ayn Rand Institute's media channel on YouTube, where you'll find lectures and panel discussions on foreign policy, capitalism, and more.
If you're interested in gaining a deeper knowledge about Objectivism, I strongly recommend that you sign up at the Ayn Rand Institute. Its free, with no strings attached, and you won't recieve any mail from them unless you specify so. What you will get however, is free access to over 200 hours of lectures. The following, which may be found under "ARI Lecture Series" on the member's page, may be of particular interest to you:
The Rise and Fall of Property Rights in America
The Separation of School and State: The Case for Abolishing America's Government Schools (VERY POWERFUL -- EVERYONE SHOULD SEE THIS)
The Virtue of Selfishness: Why Achieving Your Happiness Is Your Highest Moral Purpose
The Road to 9/11: How America's Selfless Policies Unleashed the Jihadists
Totalitarian Islam's Threat to the West
America's Foreign Policy: Self-Interest vs. Self-Sacrifice
The Morality of War
Thanks for taking the time to read this -- I hope you found it informal. I'd be glad to answer any questions you might have.
“A country without a political philosophy is like a ship drifting at random in mid-ocean at the mercy of any chance wind, wave or current. A ship whose passengers huddle in their cabins and cry "don't rock the boat!" for fear of discovering that the captain’s brig is empty."
Last edited by IanMartins; 07-31-2008 at 04:04 PM.
07-31-2008, 04:58 PM
How does objectivism deal with scientific concepts of events or objects that by their very nature can not be observed or measured? Also does objectivism compensate for issues concerning the potential inaccuracy of the 5 senses or is it assumed that the senses and the external data that they gather in for intellect and reason to process are always correct? As you can imagine I don't accept objectivism as a worth wild philosophy for my life because it excludes too many avenues of discovery. It puts to many limits on lines of though and inquiry and when taking to its fullest potential it seems to be a child of nihilism something akin to atheistic existentialism. I may have misconceptions or a misunderstanding of the philosophy because I haven't delved deeply in to it but much of what I read I couldn't agree with.
Please don't shoot me
07-31-2008, 05:51 PM
I will say this...
Ayn Rand is a great voice for conservative principles of individualism and free markets....I picked up a copy of "The fountainhead" several months ago for a couple of bucks at a used book store. I have read through about a 1/10...... So far it is quite compelling...but that's where my praiser for her ends.
On a similar note.
I have not even attempted the feat of "Atlas Shrugged"..It's almost as long as the Bible..and I have never finished that book.......but maybe someday.Gun Control: The theory that a woman found dead in an alley, raped and strangled with her panty hose, is somehow morally superior to a woman explaining to police how her attacker got that fatal bullet wound - Unknown
The problem is Empty People, Not Loaded Guns - Linda Schrock Taylor
07-31-2008, 05:59 PM
I've read Rand and I'm familiar with her philosophy (as are several others on CU). I think there is a lot to admire in Objectivism when it is placed against against the mish-mash of ideas that are currently labeled as Liberal or Progressive. Her ideas about self-reliance, capitalism, and the rejection of appeals to emotion are pretty compelling.
If I was an atheist, I'd probably also be an Objectivist. :)
07-31-2008, 07:29 PM
In fact it was a comment from Ian a month or so ago that got me interested in reading a complete translation of Kant's book.
Anyways my mine difference with Ayn Rand, other than the atheism, is her concept of rational self-reliance for establishing a moral code. If one things this through to its rational conclusion then anarchy would ensue. It seems to put more faith in the natural virtue of human nature that history has demonstrated.
Last edited by FlaGator; 07-31-2008 at 07:33 PM.
Please don't shoot me
08-01-2008, 05:07 PM
I have not read enough Kant to make an honest assessment. I just have heard basic concepts like his 1st formulation and such. I have my doubts about it though knowing that Hegel was influenced by Kant. I know more about Hegelian philosophy and it's influences on things such as historical Marxism and today's Neoconservatism and most other Statist apologist beliefs. After being compelled by he likes of F. Fukuyama as a young man in undergrad, and then watching this philosophy transform this country's foreign policy into it's current dilemma....I have a strong aversion to Hegelian, Marxist, Strausssian rubbish.
I am open to reading Kant's works but I prefer political philosophies like J.S. Mill's On Liberty..which is more in line with my thinking. I also, for the first time in my life, am reading C.S. Lewis "Mere Christianity". I completely agree with you in that natural man is no saint.
The problem is Empty People, Not Loaded Guns - Linda Schrock Taylor
08-01-2008, 05:27 PM
Let me give you a brief introduction to the fundamentals of Objectivism first.
The basic metaphysical issue that lies at the root of Objectivist is the primacy of existence. This is the axiom that existence exists, i.e. that the universe exists independent of the consciousness of any individual. That things are what they are, and possess a specific nature, an identity.
The epistemological corollary which other philosophies (and all religions) are based upon is called the primacy of consciousness -- the notion that the universe has no independent existence, but is the product of a consciousness (human, divine or both) -- that existence is subjective, and that it may be manipulated by feelings, prayers, etc. Although few people today believe that the singing and chanting of mystic incantations will bring rain, most people still regard as valid an argument such as "if there is no God, who created the universe?"
To grasp the fact that existence exists, means to grasp the fact that nature, i.e. the universe as a whole, cannot be created or annihilated, that it cannot come into or go out of existence. Whether its basic constituent elements are atoms, or subatomic particles, or some yet undiscovered forms of energy, it is not ruled by a subjective consciousness or by will or by chance, but by the Law of Identity. All the combinations and dissolutions of elements within the universe -- from a floating speck of dust to the formation of a galaxy to the emergence of life -- are caused and determined by the identities of the elements involved. Existence is outside the power of any volition.
I fail to see how you can relate Objectivism to nihilism, unless it's due to a faulty chain of associations such as "atheism = socialism = nihilism". I would like to point out that socialist atheists and Objectivist atheists are nothing alike. Socialists simply substitute blind faith in a god to blind faith in the collective, or in "mother nature", whereas Objectivists consider atheism more than just the knowledge that gods do not exist -- they define it as having a frame of mind that looks at the world objectively, fearlessly, recognizing reason as man's sole means of knowledge, and seeking to understand all things as part of existence. It denies any supernatural dimension presented as a contradiction of existence. This applies not only to gods, but also to every variant of the supernatural ever advocated or to be advocated. In other words, Objectivists accept reality -- exclusively.
In reality, Objectivism is quite the contrary to nihilism. It's essence is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute. The Objectivist sense of life is in essence the American sense of life. To truly understand what I mean, I urge you to read either "the Fountainhead" or "Atlas Shrugged". The heroes in these novels, such as the architect Howard Roark and the industrialist Henry Rearden, convey this fact better than I am able to explain.
A misconception that I believe you may hold (based on your relation between Objectivism and nihilism) is that Objectivism is a philosophy without moral virtues. You may believe that virtues are only possible through the existence of a god. This is not so. Objectivist ethics are moral absolutes, which are made self-evident through the study of Objectivist metaphysics. If you wish an introduction to this, you may study these entries in the Objectivist Wikipedia. Rationality is the cardinal virtue, leading to all others. These include Honesty (the refusal to fake reality), Integrity (consistency in the application of reason), Productivity (working to create one's values), Independence (refusing to leave one's thinking to others), Pride (the pursuit of moral perfection), and Justice (applying reason to the actions of other men, and based on this, giving them what they "deserve"). These are, of course, very basic definitions. Here's a .pdf containing more detailed descriptions. The Objectivist Wikipedia is, of course, also a very good source to learn more about Objectivist ethics.
Last edited by IanMartins; 08-01-2008 at 06:30 PM.
08-01-2008, 06:11 PM
a message to the GOP candidates" (filmed in 1961, prior to Barry Goldwater winning the GOP nomination).
I strongly urge you to finish reading the Fountainhead. Howard Roark is the epitome of the American hero, and his confrontations with the many bureucratic, parasitic collectivists who attempt to manipulate him are strongly inspiring -- they'll provide you with numerous highly satisfying "feel good moments". As a sidenote, the Fountainhead deals with the evils of collectivist and altruism -- mysticism is largely untouched. For those of you who are interested; here's the trailer for the movie adaptation of the novel.
audio book, so that you can listen to it while working, exercising, etc. The narrator is remarkable.
P.S. I'll respond to the remaining posts tomorrow.
Last edited by IanMartins; 08-01-2008 at 07:07 PM.
08-02-2008, 10:48 AM
The problem is Empty People, Not Loaded Guns - Linda Schrock Taylor
08-02-2008, 12:12 PM
- Join Date
- Jun 2008
I have read The Fountainhead several times over the years as well as Atlas Shrugged and other philosophical works of Rand. I have found some things I strongly agree with and others I do not.
Rand is ultimately modernist in a postmodern world as am I. I do not buy "multiple realities" and believe there is an objective truth. (This has made it difficult for me in the humanities.)
I have major issues with her concept of integrity, especially as it relates to the world of people we live in. If we look at Howard Roark, for example, we are looking at a man who is a great architect but has zero political skills. He cannot and will not persuade others that his work is amazing: he is totally dependent on others to do it for him, and one can't always count on an Austin Heller or Ken Howard to be there when you need them. This complete inability to deal with people causes him great suffering and his work to be overlooked while the superior political skills of others result in much lesser work being successful. Rand paints a stark picture: the integrity of your work and the ability to sell it cannot exist in the same individual. This ultimately leaves a person without "claws" and dependent upon others to survive, which, of course, is contrary to what Rand really is going for. In Atlas Shrugged, all of her industrialists are capable of surviving alone in primitive conditions. Dagny, for example, is able to take a rundown house and fix it up, building pathways to the door, etc. But the political skills it takes for the company to survive are in the hands of the antagonist, Dagny's brother James.
One can argue at length that it is wrong for people who can survive on their own to have to kiss up to government (as in Atlas Shrugged), but it is much harder to argue that artists like Howard Roark should suffer failure because they lack basic people skills. Even in primitive societies, politics between people is well developed: humans are political animals. Rand's heroes, for all their indispensability in a dispensable world, always end up with the short end of the stick because they cannot navigate the world of people. And this makes them, ultimately, the most vulnerable and dependent characters.
Edited to add:
It is most ironic that Rand's characters are proponents of free market capitalism, since the engine that runs free market capitalism is persuasion (or advertising). You can create the most amazing invention but if you don't advertise or try to persuade others why your invention is a "must-have," you don't sell anything.
Political skills, including persuasion, are the underpinnings of capitalism. People who do not develop these abilities, no matter how brilliant they are, do suffer. In the end, brilliant creative people sans political skills end up needing the most help from outside sources including state and federal governments. Universities are full of "avant garde" artists, for example, who have all the integrity in the world but no one understands what the hell they are doing, and these artists feel insulted (or like they are "pandering" ) if you ask them to explain. It is only because of government grants that these artists can continue to work since free market capitalism would have crushed them long ago.
In The Fountainhead, Howard Roark could not handle the academic bullshit--he couldn't just draw some pretty thing to get by some stupid professors in the art department--and he ended up without a degree. So by today's standards, he wouldn't even be able to teach high school, no less have an academic position with the funding he would need. His freemarket success was entirely due to the luck of running into people like Austin Heller (and other "middlemen"), but alone, he would never survive in the free market world. I don't know where Howard Roark would end up today, but my guess is some kind of survivalist camp in the mountains. Sort of like Ted Kazinsky.
Last edited by Elspeth; 08-02-2008 at 12:38 PM. Reason: To add
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