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  1. #11  
    Senior Member IanMartins's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gingersnap View Post
    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. :)
    Yes, if there is one thing that Conservatives and Objectivists do have in common, its a profound respect for the moral principle of self-reliance. Speaking of what they have in common, I'd like to bring up something that I mentioned in my opening post -- namely C. Bradley Thompson's lecture, entitled "The Separation of School and State: The Case for Abolishing America's Government Schools". This deeply disturbing (yet inspiring) lecture presents the most convincing arguments I've heard for abolishing government schools. After listening through the first ten minutes, you'll be horrified at the current situation. After the first twenty minutes, you'll have been provided with all the evidence you need to convince people of the monstrosity of government schooling, which is deeply immoral on more levels than you might think. The long-term consequences of such a system are horrific. You do need to register to gain access to all the videos, though as I said, I assure you that its free, with no strings attached. After three years as a member, I have yet to recieve a single piece of advertisement from them. In any case, if you wish to do so, you can sign up at the Ayn Rand Institute, then simply access the registered user page, and click the link to the "ARI Lecture Series" on the right-hand side of the following screen.

    Quote Originally Posted by FlaGator View Post
    I understand. I'm a bit of a student of different philosophies and I know enough about objectivism to know that it isn't my cup of tea.
    Philosophy is the science that studies the fundamental aspects of the nature of existence -- studying it means seeking the inviolate truth of existence. Do you believe that there are several truths of existence, and that you should merely select one that suits you the best, like when selecting a career? I think its unwise to dismiss an entire philosophy after sniffing at it and proclaiming that its not your subjective "cup of tea". Its important for a philosopher to always have an active mind, and to be willing to analyze new ideas even though they may be in contradiction to what he already believes to be true.

    I do not believe that you have studied the epistemology and metaphysics of Objectivism -- most likely you have considered the principles of Objectivism (which are but the logical end results of the epistemology and metaphysics), then dismissed them because they go against the Christian morality of self-sacrifice that you have already accepted as truth (on faith).

    Quote Originally Posted by FlaGator View Post
    I like a lot of the ideas but I can't say that I care for the hopelessness of life aspect that most of the atheistic philosophies project.
    I touched on this is a previous post, but I'll expand a bit on it here.

    Religion is an early form of philosophy -- the first attempts to explain the universe, to give a coherent frame of reference to man's life and a code of moral values. It was created by man before men graduated or developed enough to have philosophy. As philosophies, some religions have very valuable moral points however. They may have a good influence or proper principles to inculcate, but in a very contradictory context and on a very malevolent base: on the ground of faith.

    The good, say the mystics of spirit, is God, a being whose only definition is that he is beyond man's power to conceive -- a definition that invalidates man's consciousness and nullifies his concepts of existence. Man's mind, say the mystics of spirit, must be subordinated to the will of God. Man's standard of value, say the mystics of spirit, is the pleasure of God, whose standards are beyond man's power of comprehension and must be accepted on faith. The logical conclusion of this is that the purpose of man's life is to become an abject zombie who serves a purpose he does not know, for reasons he is not to question.

    I won't go into the evils doctrines of original sin and altruism (that you are sinful simply for being alive, and that sacrificing everything you love, seek, own or desire -- even your own life -- to the benefit of any and every stranger, is a moral principle) here, as I didn't intend for this thread to be a religious debate.

    Let me close by saying that I find it unfathomable that you believe that being an Atheist is to "live a life of hopelessness" -- especially as opposed to being a Christian. As an Atheist I am my own highest value, and my own happiness is the moral purpose of my life. Its quite liberating, and I enjoy every single bit of it to its fullest extent. I find the notion of living a life in religious servitude extremely stifiling.

    Quote Originally Posted by FlaGator View Post
    Right now I am reading all of Kant's 'Critique of Pure Reason' and Paul Davies' 'The Mind of God'. Their metaphysical views are pretty far apart but each has their virtues and vices.
    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.
    Ah, Kant, whose philosophy is the complete opposite of Objectivism. The first and foremost enemy of reason. The man whose entire system of philosophy collapses if man is stranded alone on a desert island, as every single part of it depends intrinsically on "the collective". We might discuss Kant in more depth, though I'd prefer to keep this thread on topic, on the discussion of Objectivism.

    Quote Originally Posted by FlaGator View Post
    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.
    If that is your conclusion, you should check your premises -- it is certainly not the rational one. I'd be interested in hearing how you reached it. In any case, the only moral political system as far as Objectivists are concerned, is the Constitutional Republic, of which only role is to protect all individuals from the initiation of force from others. In order to defend individual rights, government's role must be limited to a strong military, police and justice system with a supreme court whose judges must be held to account by the people for any action which would not provide the protection of individuals as described in the constitution.

    You might want to read through what Ayn Rand has said about the Libertarian Party (and the anarchists therein). Its not only interesting -- its quite entertaining. ;)

    The English philosopher Lord Bolingbroke said: "History is philosophy teaching by example". On this, I am in full agreement with him on -- and frankly, its the strongest argument in favor of Objectivism. The epistemology and metaphysics of Objectivism establishes the true "axis of evil", namely that of collectivism, altruism and mysticism, and history reaffirms this as true, for all to witness. In any case, your argument is somewhat self-contradictory: It is when you put too much faith in the natural virtue of human nature that you trust and allow humans to rule other humans. Objectivism does not make this error.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elspeth View Post
    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.
    It seems as though you believe that all Objectivists are identical, but this is far from the truth. Everyone have their own "sense of life", as one might call it. All individuals are beings of self-made soul, and possess their own unique traits and talents. Therefore, using Howard Roark as a stereotype for all Objectivists is very unreasonable. Look at Francisco D'Anconia from Atlas Shrugged, for example -- he clearly had an fundamentally different personality and sense of life than that of Howard Roark. Francisco was a highly social, amiable and outgoing sort of person, yet you don't seem to take him into account at all. I also don't think its fair to say that Howard Roark had a "complete inability to deal with people" -- I'd rather say that he refused to deal with a certain kind of people. He was a highly principled kind of character, and would not make compromises with those who sought to impose their will on him or his work. When among other men of integrity, he was certainly sociable, interactive and willing to strike a bargain. His struggle to "make it" as an architect isn't very different from that of people trying to make it as artists, actors and such today -- they do their work in an individualistic style and hope to get noticed so that they'll get their big breakthrough. Until that happens, they support themselves by doing more menial work such as waitressing (Roark worked at a stone quarry). If for example painters compromise and paint what everybody else are painting they might get a bit more instant gratification as the public is open to it, but it will hurt them gravely in the long run, and remove the possibility of a giant breakthrough as they lack an individual style. The same was true for Roark. Calling him "dependent upon others to survive" is only true in the sense that any businessman needs someone to do business with. I'd also like to point out that Peter Keating was the example of how "superior political skills of others result in much lesser work being successful". He was the pragmatic, appeasing kind of architect who made what the collective wanted, and played the political game every step of his career.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elspeth View Post
    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.
    This is something that Dagny recognizes as a big mistake towards the end of the book -- not unlike Henry Rearden, she didn't start out as the perfect Objectivist character, but developed. She allows Jim to handle "the boys in Washington" partly because she has a strong distaste for "the society of pull", and leaves it to Jim because she falsely assumes that he will act in his own self-interest and defend Taggart Transcontinental from legislations that will harm their business. There is also the factor that he is the President of the company, and has the authority (and the desire) to handle such matters.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elspeth View Post
    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.
    Did Howard Roark suffer failure? He had a hard time in the beginning of his career, but thanks to his integrity and self-reliance, he eventually achieved tremendous success. This is something that all great innovators and entrepreneurs go through. It is also what separates idealists from pragmatists, and the reason why I'm an activist in the Objectivist movement, rather than a Conservative.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elspeth View Post
    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.
    Again, you are focusing on the early stages on Howard Roarks career. He had no money to spend on advertising. As you've read Atlas Shrugged however, this should ring a bell: "Rearden Ore", "Rearden Steel", "Rearden Life", etc. There were several paragraphs where Henry Rearden admired his own marketing, and imagined all the future products that would be advertised for in his name. The same goes for Francisco D'Anconia. As for "persuasion", the novel is literally crawling with business transactions/negotiations between the various characters. If you fail to think of any, its certainly time for you to reread the book. All the marketing for Rearden Steel, in particular, should be very obvious throughout the last chapters of Part 1. :)

    [CONTINUES IN THE NEXT POST DUE TO LENGTH]
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  3. #13  
    Senior Member IanMartins's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elspeth View Post
    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.
    Political skills may be the underpinnings of the form of mixed capitalism that conservatives advocate -- it certainly is not in the laissez-faire capitalism that Objectivists advocate. With an unregulated economy where you do not need to answer to the government, politics is left to the politicians, and business is left to the businessmen (though they may hire public relations agents if they deem it necessary). Business transactions, bargaining, marketing, and rational persuation, are certainly necessary elements of any successful businessman's career, including that of Objectivists.

    There's no denying that in the current situation, where the United States has a mixed economy with heavy government intervention in business, its near impossible to manage a business while upholding the Objectivist principles. You are forced to involve yourself in politics, and to "sacrifice for the greater good", whatever that is. This is the grave injustice that the Ayn Rand Institute is trying to remedy -- there are many lectures on it available at the registrered member page.

    There are actually many businessmen who consider themselves Objectivists -- the philosophy is more widespread than most people think. The most publicly known one is John A. Allison, the CEO of BB&T, a financial holdings company listed on the New York Stock Exchange with more than $100 billion in managed assets. He's donated millions to the Ayn Rand Institute, who are first and foremost working towards putting Objectivist litterature on high school and university curriculum, while also offering four-year-long undergrauate and graduate programs on Objectivism. You may also have seen some of the more prominent Objectivists on Fox Business and NBC, where they appear regularly. Here's a recent update on the current state of affairs regarding Objectivism.

    If an artist fails to make any art that can sell, he either needs to improve his style, or find another career. It does not give him the right to live as a parasite on the taxpayers money. He can get a menial job, and work on his art on his spare time. As long as artists live on government handouts, it gives the government the power to dictate what is considered art.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elspeth View Post
    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.
    There are a few private Objectivist kindergartens and high schools in the United States -- I listened to some of the teachers speak at this years Objectivist Summer Conference. Going to such places of learning are of course only possible if your parents are partial to Objectivism though. As to how Howard Roark would have fared without a high school diploma today (assuming has was equally principled and philosophically aware in his teens), I would envision him as a successful self-made entrepreneur. Again though, Howard Roark is not the standard by which all Objectivists should be compared to. Even John Galt himself worked at a regular factory until well into his thirties.
    Last edited by IanMartins; 08-02-2008 at 07:34 PM.
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    Thanks for the long, detailed answer. I am going to answer a little bit at a time because I want to think about your arguments.

    One thing strikes me here:

    If an artist fails to make any art that can sell, he either needs to improve his style, or find another career.
    I take you back to Howard Roark here. His art was definitely not selling. He managed to build Heller's home (sheer luck) and a gas station on his own. Heller tried to "sell him" but Roark's own inner integrity did not permit him to take many of the jobs that Heller sent his way.

    If your statement stands, then Roark should have "improved" (changed) his style so that it was marketable. And who was marketable? Guy Francon. And not just because of all the networking Francon did (through parties and such) but because the wealthy Americans who had money for buildings wanted a particular, European look. (Roark called this style "picture post cards" when he was talking to Peter Keating, when Keating was trying to decide whether to take the scholarship to Europe.)

    So, should Roark, who was not selling (with a handful of exceptions) have pandered to the public taste in order to sell?

    This is the situation that many artists find themselves in. As you put it about Roark:

    If for example painters compromise and paint what everybody else are painting they might get a bit more instant gratification as the public is open to it, but it will hurt them gravely in the long run, and remove the possibility of a giant breakthrough as they lack an individual style. The same was true for Roark.
    So, I assume that your answer is that Roark was right not to pander. But suppose Roark had never run into Austin Heller? Suppose (after the Stoddard Temple) that he had never gotten the chance to build Monadnock or the Cord building? Should he have spent the rest of his life working in a quarry? Or have Mike get him more construction jobs?

    Very often, an artist with true vision does not sell. Even assuming a pure, capitalist environment (which is an ideal, considering that humans (like their monkey cousins) are political creatures), what is to say that an artist would sell a single work? That a Howard Roark would get to build an actual house or store or vacation lodge?

    And if the artist improves his/her style to be able to sell, wouldn't that be compromising one's integrity? In Rand's world, that would be.

    It does not give him the right to live as a parasite on the taxpayers money. He can get a menial job, and work on his art on his spare time. As long as artists live on government handouts, it gives the government the power to dictate what is considered art.
    I agree with your first and last sentence here: the artist does not have any instrinsic right to live on taxpayer's money and government money equals government interference in the arts. However, I don't know about your second sentence. I have known many artists and musicians who have taken menial jobs (or relatively menial, like teaching in the public school system) so that they can pursue their art or music in their off hours. I have to tell you that this is exhausting. Menial work takes the energy out of you, and, very often, your spirit. In addition, in order to make ends meet, many friends of mine have had to work very long hours and have precious little time for their art. These folks may not be starving in a garrett, but they are not free to do the art they want to do either. I can understand why they go back to school, get MFAs or MA's and try to get government funding.

    The artists/ musicians I know who are actually making a living are "pandering"--like Steven Mallory--painting at street fairs or doing church gigs (instead of doing classical or new contemporary music). The only place they can really do the work they want to do and get paid for it is in the university system, and even there, they are restricted by whatever academic style is in vogue. (Ask me someday about Darmstadt and why no one writes a melody like Puccini or Tsaichovsky anymore.)

    This is not to say that having a day job and doing your art is impossible. There is always the case of Charles Ives who is in the pantheon of contemporary American composition. His day job was selling insurance, and he single handedly invented the mass market life insurance industry. But Ives did not become known for his music in his lifetime, and he couldn't make a living on it. He had to work church gigs to do any music in public. And, mysteriously, he stopped being able to compose at all after 1927. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Edward_Ives

    Who knows what might have happened to him if he could have just done his art? American music might have been all the richer for it.
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    Senior Member IanMartins's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elspeth View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by IanMartins
    If an artist fails to make any art that can sell, he either needs to improve his style, or find another career.
    I take you back to Howard Roark here. His art was definitely not selling. He managed to build Heller's home (sheer luck) and a gas station on his own. Heller tried to "sell him" but Roark's own inner integrity did not permit him to take many of the jobs that Heller sent his way.

    If your statement stands, then Roark should have "improved" (changed) his style so that it was marketable. And who was marketable? Guy Francon. And not just because of all the networking Francon did (through parties and such) but because the wealthy Americans who had money for buildings wanted a particular, European look. (Roark called this style "picture post cards" when he was talking to Peter Keating, when Keating was trying to decide whether to take the scholarship to Europe.)

    So, should Roark, who was not selling (with a handful of exceptions) have pandered to the public taste in order to sell?
    First of all, remember that Roark's work was selling, though not under Roark's name. Peter Keating, the pragmatic sell-out, often came to Roark for help. Roark single-handedly designed the building that became Keating's greatest success -- the only thing Keating did was add some ornaments to the outside of the building in order to please the masses. The sentence that you quoted me on doesn't apply to Roark, as a lack of talent wasn't what prevented him from selling his work. He didn't choose the easy path like Keating did, but kept his integrity intact and succeeded, not unlike many entrepreneurs today.

    I'd like to point out that Howard Roark is considered more like an abstract ideal of what a 100% rational Objectivist should be like -- I sincerely doubt that many have been able to live up to his standard. Comparing Objectivists to Roark, would arguably be similar to comparing Christians to Jesus. ;)

    Also, to hear a story about a modern day Howard Roark, listen to this small lecture by Tony Robbins. You might be surprised to learn that its about Sylvester Stallone. Very inspiring!


    Quote Originally Posted by Elspeth View Post
    This is the situation that many artists find themselves in. As you put it about Roark:
    Quote Originally Posted by IanMartins
    If for example painters compromise and paint what everybody else are painting they might get a bit more instant gratification as the public is open to it, but it will hurt them gravely in the long run, and remove the possibility of a giant breakthrough as they lack an individual style. The same was true for Roark.
    So, I assume that your answer is that Roark was right not to pander. But suppose Roark had never run into Austin Heller? Suppose (after the Stoddard Temple) that he had never gotten the chance to build Monadnock or the Cord building? Should he have spent the rest of his life working in a quarry? Or have Mike get him more construction jobs?

    Very often, an artist with true vision does not sell. Even assuming a pure, capitalist environment (which is an ideal, considering that humans (like their monkey cousins) are political creatures), what is to say that an artist would sell a single work? That a Howard Roark would get to build an actual house or store or vacation lodge?
    Opportunities always present themselves. If Roark hadn't run into Austin Heller, he would likely have needed to work in the quarry for a while longer, while waiting for other potential customers to admire his work and get in touch. This is standard procedure for most entrepreneurs and other people who are willing to take great risks in order to strike it big, or in order to be able to work with what they have great passion for. Whether an artist with true vision is able to sell or not is his own responsibility -- he alone bears all the risks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elspeth View Post
    And if the artist improves his/her style to be able to sell, wouldn't that be compromising one's integrity? In Rand's world, that would be.
    Improving ones style in order to be able to sell is what every great craftsman in the history of the world has been doing. A great artist isn't born with his abilities, and he should always seek greater excellence. Making a compromise by changing ones own style for the worse in order to appease someone else however, would be recognized as deeply immoral to an Objectivist.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elspeth View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by IanMartins
    It does not give him the right to live as a parasite on the taxpayers money. He can get a menial job, and work on his art on his spare time. As long as artists live on government handouts, it gives the government the power to dictate what is considered art.
    I agree with your first and last sentence here: the artist does not have any instrinsic right to live on taxpayer's money and government money equals government interference in the arts. However, I don't know about your second sentence. I have known many artists and musicians who have taken menial jobs (or relatively menial, like teaching in the public school system) so that they can pursue their art or music in their off hours. I have to tell you that this is exhausting. Menial work takes the energy out of you, and, very often, your spirit. In addition, in order to make ends meet, many friends of mine have had to work very long hours and have precious little time for their art. These folks may not be starving in a garrett, but they are not free to do the art they want to do either. I can understand why they go back to school, get MFAs or MA's and try to get government funding.
    Yes, it's probably very easy to fall for the temptation of seeking government grants -- I still maintain that its immoral to have such a system in place at all however. If you have a passion for your art, you're able to work on it throughout most of the 8-10 hours of the day that you aren't working to support yourself, or sleeping. If you fail to find the energy for your so-called passion, you're probably not so passionate about it after all. Success isn't handed to you on a silver platter -- it takes hard work, sacrifice and an iron will.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elspeth View Post
    The artists/ musicians I know who are actually making a living are "pandering"--like Steven Mallory--painting at street fairs or doing church gigs (instead of doing classical or new contemporary music). The only place they can really do the work they want to do and get paid for it is in the university system, and even there, they are restricted by whatever academic style is in vogue. (Ask me someday about Darmstadt and why no one writes a melody like Puccini or Tsaichovsky anymore.)
    I agree that the present day situation of big government and a mixed economy makes it near impossible to succeed as an Objectivist puritan such as Howard Roark. As I pointed out above though, he's more like an abstract personification of the highest ideals of Objectivism. Objectivist characters in Atlas Shrugged, for example, did manage to work "in the system" until it got too absurd. Just as you don't need to be Jesus in order to be a Christian, you don't need to be Howard Roark in order to be an Objectivist -- they serve as moral ideals.

    And yes, I'm still waiting for someone to rival Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. :)
    Last edited by IanMartins; 08-03-2008 at 02:10 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by IanMartins
    I am my own highest value, and my own happiness is the moral purpose of my life.

    ...If that is your conclusion, you should check your premises -- it is certainly not the rational one...
    Bleh. This is pretty much the sum of my experiences with Objectivists: high-handed lectures about what is and is not rational (which, invariably, sound like that rush of certainty you get from college freshmen who have just discovered, in their 100 level textbooks, the secrets to life) and a grandiose exaltation of themselves. Thoroughly unappealing.
    “When the doctor is out, I’m in.”
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    Quote Originally Posted by nacho View Post
    Bleh. This is pretty much the sum of my experiences with Objectivists: high-handed lectures about what is and is not rational (which, invariably, sound like that rush of certainty you get from college freshmen who have just discovered, in their 100 level textbooks, the secrets to life) and a grandiose exaltation of themselves. Thoroughly unappealing.
    When discussing a philosophy based exclusively on reason, it follows that you must use rational arguments -- there's no avoiding this. Perhaps you have more tolerance for high-handed reverends who preach about what is and isn't "what Jesus would do", and newborn Christians who have found "the secrets to life" in the Bible? The reason why Objectivists tend to be highly confident and self-assertive in the promotion of their philosophy is because they essentially are promoting reality. Nothing is taken on faith, and everything can be studied and understood all the way down to the metaphysical and epistemological level. Realizing this can often cause younger students to behave with "grandiose exaltation of themselves" as you put it -- something which of course is unfortunate, but a common denominator for most young students who are strongly convinced that they are right about something. It should not be confused with taking a reasonable amount of pride in oneself however, something which is both moral and healthy to do.
    Last edited by IanMartins; 08-03-2008 at 03:40 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by IanMartins View Post
    newborn Christians who have found "the secrets to life" in the Bible?
    That isn't a particularly rational thing to say, Rand-y. Ought to be more careful about letting human emotion spill onto the old keyboard.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Molon Labe View Post
    Objectivism is in direct conflict with religion. Specifically being Christian...so don't bother too much with it beyond a curiosity since you're a man of faith.
    True, but there is wiggleroom in the " Life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness" angle. I'm a man of Faith and I like many of Rand's ideas.


    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
    .
    I've actually read both. Some of the speeches are rather long-winded but if you stick with it, you will be glad. If all Liberals would read Atlas Shrugged they would at least understand why conservatives abhor their philosophy.

    I recommend the book to people often with the disclaimer that it is dated. I am a history buff so the dated part I like. If it helps I tell them to visualize the various industries as present industries ie. Steel as Auto manufacturing and Railroads as Airline or any other transportation.:)
    Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.
    C. S. Lewis
    Do not ever say that the desire to "do good" by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives. (Are you listening Barry)?:mad:
    Ayn Rand
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  10. #20  
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    Quote Originally Posted by IanMartins View Post
    First of all, remember that Roark's work was selling, though not under Roark's name. Peter Keating, the pragmatic sell-out, often came to Roark for help. Roark single-handedly designed the building that became Keating's greatest success -- the only thing Keating did was add some ornaments to the outside of the building in order to please the masses.
    You're actually making my argument for me here: Roark's pure, unadulterated work was, in fact, NOT selling. It was because of the compromises added by Peter Keating that the work could sell at all. This might be described as "pandering" and goes to the heart of my argument: How pure can integrity be (or should it be), and how does the person who wants to maintain inner integrity make a living in a capitalist economy without some compromises or persuasive skills?


    The sentence that you quoted me on doesn't apply to Roark, as a lack of talent wasn't what prevented him from selling his work. He didn't choose the easy path like Keating did, but kept his integrity intact and succeeded, not unlike many entrepreneurs today.
    In your opinion, Roark was talented, but in the opinions of the public he was just plain scary, untried, and, to many, untalented. What is to prevent someone from saying to him, "Get out of the business, you just don't have it" ?

    I'd like to point out that Howard Roark is considered more like an abstract ideal of what a 100% rational Objectivist should be like -- I sincerely doubt that many have been able to live up to his standard. Comparing Objectivists to Roark, would arguably be similar to comparing Christians to Jesus. ;)
    Exactly. But as the ideal, he stands for Rand's major principles: one is not to sacrifice one's inner integrity and the other is not to allow "second handers" to profit in society. Roark is completely unwilling to sacrifice his inner integrity but, in a desire to fix Keating's bad designs and see his own ideas in concrete, Roark does allow the second hander to profit. In the process, he destroys Keating (along with Toohey). Wouldn't it have been far better for Roark to learn to sell his ideas, to compromise a little and put his own name on it? I don't know the answer to that one, but I am assuming that for Rand, this kind of compromise is untenable. And, once again, this leaves Roark, and those who follow his way, completely helpless in the hands of society.


    Opportunities always present themselves.
    This is a statement of faith, not a statement of fact.

    For many, the right opportunity never comes. If no one like Heller had ever come along, then Roark would never have built a thing under his own name. (He'd have always been designing for free for Peter Keating.)

    A great part of success depends on how you handle the not-right opportunity or how you create your own opportunities. The "not-right" opportunity may give you some of what you want, like the committee that just wanted a little cosmetic change from Roark, but were willing to give him everything else he wanted. The opportunity is not perfect, it's not the right opportunity according to Rand's standards (as is evidenced by Roark throwing it away) but is AN opportunity. The world very rarely gives you exactly what you want right away. Very often, you have to compromise at first. This is what Rand's characters (and her philosophy) are unwilling to do.

    There is a good reason for Rand to distrust compromise. The problem with compromise (especially as an artist) is that you can get caught in it. An actor, for example, can get type cast. Take the case of Ed O'Neill from "Married With Children". He played Al Bundy for so long that when he tried to do serious acting in a pair of late 90's movies, it was hard for audiences to take him seriously, and the movies are not remembered. This kind of "Type casting" can happen to artists and architects as well, and compromise can make it difficult for the public to accept the artist's real style when it emerges. Ed O'Neill started in serious work; should he have not taken "Married with Children" even though he didn't particularly like the brand of humor and didn't think it would last through seven episodes?

    Here again, I don't know the answer, but if Ed O'Neill had waited for his Austin Heller in the industry, his opportunity might have never come. Most actors I have met will take whatever roll they can get, even if they are opposed to it, because it is an opportunity. Idealists, Like Ali Sheedy, (from The Breakfast Club) will never find the kinds of roles they are looking for and end up unable to work at all.

    The other thing one needs to learn is how to "create" opportunities. This might mean a little self advertisement, use of rhetorical persuasion, exactly the kind of networking that Guy Francon did and taught Peter Keating to do. In fact, Francon explained to Peter that the real work of the firm was, in fact, all the parties and not the actual designing (which he left to Stengel and, later, to Keating himself.) Francon had a point: it is the parties and the networking where the personal contacts are made. If someone knows you (or knows that you are vouched for) and likes you, you are much more likely to get their business.

    Just think of what would happened to John Galt if, instead of going on strike, he had gotten himself out there and talking to some venture captialists? If he hadn't known them, perhaps he could have used friends and personal contacts. And, if no financers were willing to take him on, perhaps he could have gone to work at a univerisity and, yes, applied for a government grant? These are all opportunities that he could have created for himself.


    If Roark hadn't run into Austin Heller, he would likely have needed to work in the quarry for a while longer, while waiting for other potential customers to admire his work and get in touch. This is standard procedure for most entrepreneurs and other people who are willing to take great risks in order to strike it big, or in order to be able to work with what they have great passion for.
    Standard procedure varies from entrepreneur to entrepreneur. If the entrepreneur has money and contacts like Bill Gates, who had the funds to buy DOS from Xerox (a operating system that was created with taxpayer money!), and whose mom was on the board of IBM, there is no need to "work in quarry" or the equivalent.

    For entrepreneurs without these kinds of advantages, opportunities have to be created either by the entrepreneurs themselves or by close friends and contacts. These contacts have to come from somewhere, which means that entrepreneurs have to find access to people and that requires politicking and persuasion--by someone.

    Whether an artist with true vision is able to sell or not is his own responsibility -- he alone bears all the risks.
    Actually, Rand does not believe this. Most of Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are railing against society for not being able to recognize a Roark or Galt in their midst. It is very much like the story of Jesus (which you mention) where a stupid, immoral, misguided world cannot see the very hand of God in front of them and, for complex reasons, have to destroy that hand of God that shines light on their shortcomings. Roark is described in these terms. Dominique writes an article in which she blames Roark for building a structure on which the unworthy will hang their laundry and live their little, unworthy lives. For a non-socialist, Rand spends a lot of time blaming society.

    The real problem is a little more complex: humans are political creatures, often stupid and misguided, and they need to be persuaded. Ken Howard is probably the most pragmatic character in The Fountainhead when it comes to getting ideas moving. He works committees, twisting arms and gaining support until he reaches his objective. All this takes persuasion. And this is ALL politics.

    It is this very human trait of politicking that created the "humanist" education of the Renaissance royal courts. Petrarch, the great poet, began the push for teaching rhetoric, the practical art of decision-making and persuasion, as opposed to the Church's more philosophical (and unworldly) education plan. This humanist tradition created the climate for the birth of science and its practical applications, but it also was geared toward those who would lead. Persuasion is the key to every kind of achievement.

    One cannot count on society to be the way one likes it. One can only deal with "what is" and decide how far one is willing to go to persuade or compromise. It is the "how far" that needs to be guided by morals and ethics, and the Objectivist ethic leaves no room for persuasion or compromise.


    Improving ones style in order to be able to sell is what every great craftsman in the history of the world has been doing. A great artist isn't born with his abilities, and he should always seek greater excellence. Making a compromise by changing ones own style for the worse in order to appease someone else however, would be recognized as deeply immoral to an Objectivist.
    This is circular argument ultimately. An artist who isn't selling needs to improve his style so he can sell. If his style then sells, you can consider the style "improved." But how do we know it isn't a compromise? There isn't a way for the market to decide what changes are improvements and what changes are actually compromises, since both may sell equally well. You are asking the market to be the arbiter of style "improvement" when the market only reflects the public's buying habits, which can be based on either "improvement" or "compromise" (pandering.) For "improvement" you need an arbiter other than the market.
    Last edited by Elspeth; 08-03-2008 at 09:01 PM.
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