Thread: Ayn Rand

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  1. #1 Ayn Rand 
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    I'm not a big fan of Ayn Rand--I think her stance on charity is pretty heartless, and I didn't like her anti-religion stance, but this excerpt--from a 1964 Playboy interview struck me, and I tend to agree completely:

    PLAYBOY: In Atlas Shrugged, one of your leading characters is asked, "What's the most depraved type of human being?" His reply is surprising: He doesn't say a sadist or a murderer or a sex maniac or a dictator; he says, "The man without a purpose." Yet most people seem to go through their lives without a clearly defined purpose. Do you regard them as depraved?

    RAND: Yes, to a certain extent.

    PLAYBOY: Why?

    RAND: Because that aspect of their character lies at the root of and causes all the evils which you mentioned in your question. Sadism, dictatorship, any form of evil, is the consequence of a man's evasion of reality. A consequence of his failure to think. The man without a purpose is a man who drifts at the mercy of random feelings or unidentified urges and is capable of any evil, because he is totally out of control of his own life. In order to be in control of your life, you have to have a purpose -- a productive purpose.

    PLAYBOY: Weren't Hitler and Stalin, to name two tyrants, in control of their own lives, and didn't they have a clear purpose?

    RAND: Certainly not. Observe that both of them ended as literal psychotics. They were men who lacked self-esteem and, therefore, hated all of existence. Their psychology, in effect, is summarized in Atlas Shrugged by the character of James Taggart. The man who has no purpose, but has to act, acts to destroy others. That is not the same thing as a productive or creative purpose.

    PLAYBOY: If a person organizes his life around a single, neatly defined purpose, isn't he in danger of becoming extremely narrow in his horizons?

    RAND: Quite the contrary. A central purpose serves to integrate all the other concerns of a man's life. It establishes the hierarchy, the relative importance, of his values, it saves him from pointless inner conflicts, it permits him to enjoy life on a wide scale and to carry that enjoyment into any area open to his mind; whereas a man without a purpose is lost in chaos. He does not know what his values are. He does not know how to judge. He cannot tell what is or is not important to him, and, therefore, he drifts helplessly at the mercy of any chance stimulus or any whim of the moment. He can enjoy nothing. He spends his life searching for some value which he will never find.

    PLAYBOY: Couldn't the attempt to rule whim out of life, to act in a totally rational fashion, be viewed as conducive to a juiceless, joyless kind of existence?

    RAND: I truly must say that I don't know what you are talking about. Let's define our terms. Reason is man's tool of knowledge, the faculty that enables him to perceive the facts of reality. To act rationally means to act in accordance with the facts of reality. Emotions are not tools of cognition. What you feel tells you nothing about the facts; it merely tells you something about your estimate of the facts. Emotions are the result of your value judgments; they are caused by your basic premises, which you may hold consciously or subconsciously, which may be right or wrong. A whim is an emotion whose cause you neither know nor care to discover. Now what does it mean, to act on whim? It means that a man acts like a zombi, without any knowledge of what he deals with, what he wants to accomplish, or what motivates him. It means that a man acts in a state of temporary insanity. Is this what you call juicy or colorful? I think the only juice that can come out of such a situation is blood. To act against the facts of reality can result only in destruction.

    PLAYBOY: Should one ignore emotions altogether, rule them out of one's life entirely?

    RAND: Of course not. One should merely keep them in their place. An emotion is an automatic response, an automatic effect of man's value premises. An effect, not a cause. There is no necessary clash, no dichotomy between man's reason and his emotions -- provided he observes their proper relationship. A rational man knows -- or makes it a point to discover -- the source of his emotions, the basic premises from which they come; if his premises are wrong, he corrects them. He never acts on emotions for which he cannot account, the meaning of which he does not understand. In appraising a situation, he knows why he reacts as he does and whether he is right. He has no inner conflicts, his mind and his emotions are integrated, his consciousness is in perfect harmony. His emotions are not his enemies, they are his means of enjoying life. But they are not his guide; the guide is his mind. This relationship cannot be reversed, however. If a man takes his emotions as the cause and his mind as their passive effect, if he is guided by his emotions and uses his mind only to rationalize or justify them somehow -- then he is acting immorally, he is condemning himself to misery, failure, defeat, and he will achieve nothing but destruction -- his own and that of others.

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    Last edited by CaughtintheMiddle1990; 11-04-2010 at 09:27 PM.
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  2. #2  
    PORCUS MAXIMUS Rockntractor's Avatar
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    Read some of her books, start with atlas and you might change your mind about her. You don't have to agree with everything a person says to derive wisdom from them. don't cheat yourself through preconceptions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockntractor View Post
    Read some of her books, start with atlas and you might change your mind about her. You don't have to agree with everything a person says to derive wisdom from them. don't cheat yourself through preconceptions.
    Well, I bought Atlas and I probably will read it.
    I've read interviews with her though, and I just disagree on the whole thing about charity, or about sacrificing for others.
    If everyone believed that sacrificing for others was immoral, there would no be soldiers to defend us from foreign enemies; Why should they? The primary duty of a soldier, of a police officer, of a firemen, is to sacrifice in some way, or is built on the possibility, of sacrificing for something or someone else.

    Her opinions on Life as far as purpose, though, I agree with 100%. She was a very intelligent woman even if I don't agree with her; I wish more women were as intelligent or philosophical.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaughtintheMiddle1990 View Post
    She was a very intelligent woman even if I don't agree with her; I wish more women were as intelligent or philosophical.
    We would never get laid!
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaughtintheMiddle1990 View Post
    Well, I bought Atlas and I probably will read it.
    I've read interviews with her though, and I just disagree on the whole thing about charity, or about sacrificing for others.
    If everyone believed that sacrificing for others was immoral, there would no be soldiers to defend us from foreign enemies; Why should they? The primary duty of a soldier, of a police officer, of a firemen, is to sacrifice in some way, or is built on the possibility, of sacrificing for something or someone else.

    Her opinions on Life as far as purpose, though, I agree with 100%. She was a very intelligent woman even if I don't agree with her; I wish more women were as intelligent or philosophical.
    Although as a Christian, I can't accept Rand's views about religion, I have often said that if I was an atheist, I would be an Objectivist (with some misgivings).

    When you understand Objectivism a little more, you will see that soldiers, police, nurses, and others have an important place and that their professions are far from "immoral" in the Randian sense.

    Her quote in this article about having a purpose in life sheds a little light on that particular issue.

    Rand is completely correct about purpose. From a certain perspective, I am a rational Christian. Christianity has a moral view and set of values that I find to be extremely positive and practical. As she says, I don't have to deal with a thousand situational ethics problems every day. If stealing is off the menu for me, it's off the menu in every plausible situation. Same thing with lying, cheating, or killing. I don't need to run a calculus constantly.

    This isn't to say that a purpose can't be reevaluated in progress - it can, but having a purpose (even an imperfect purpose) is preferable to living at the whim of random emotions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockntractor View Post
    Read some of her books, start with atlas and you might change your mind about her. You don't have to agree with everything a person says to derive wisdom from them. don't cheat yourself through preconceptions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rockntractor View Post
    We would never get laid!
    Au Contrare.
    I once dated a girl who was very deep and very very intelligent; She and I were both 14 at the time, and she had already written a NOVEL. She was crazy in the sack. We don't talk anymore. She later turned out to be a devoted Socialist, but still, she was very intelligent and deep nonetheless even if I disagree with her ideology.

    Another girl, when I was around the same age, was 13--same age as I at the time--and was obsessed with philosophy and taught me, at 13, all about existentialism. Hers were the first pair of boobs that I saw.
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  7. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gingersnap View Post
    Although as a Christian, I can't accept Rand's views about religion, I have often said that if I was an atheist, I would be an Objectivist (with some misgivings).

    When you understand Objectivism a little more, you will see that soldiers, police, nurses, and others have an important place and that their professions are far from "immoral" in the Randian sense.

    Her quote in this article about having a purpose in life sheds a little light on that particular issue.

    Rand is completely correct about purpose. From a certain perspective, I am a rational Christian. Christianity has a moral view and set of values that I find to be extremely positive and practical. As she says, I don't have to deal with a thousand situational ethics problems every day. If stealing is off the menu for me, it's off the menu in every plausible situation. Same thing with lying, cheating, or killing. I don't need to run a calculus constantly.

    This isn't to say that a purpose can't be reevaluated in progress - it can, but having a purpose (even an imperfect purpose) is preferable to living at the whim of random emotions.
    I can agree with all of those sentiments. For many, Religion itself can their purpose--or at least, fuel their purpose. See all of the Priests and devoted Missionaries of the world. I have my own reasons of course why I view religion as a positive, but I don't want to turn this into a religion thread lest Wilbur jump in and complain.

    Having a certain purpose can be a beautiful thing; I'm still trying to find my purpose. I'm not sure what I want to do, but I do know that once I find out, I'll give 120% toward accomplishing it. Having a purpose can draw you away from the stresses of life--Throwing yourself into a purpose to drive away the distractions which emotional things can bring about.
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  8. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaughtintheMiddle1990 View Post
    I can agree with all of those sentiments. For many, Religion itself can their purpose--or at least, fuel their purpose. See all of the Priests and devoted Missionaries of the world. I have my own reasons of course why I view religion as a positive, but I don't want to turn this into a religion thread lest Wilbur jump in and complain.

    Having a certain purpose can be a beautiful thing; I'm still trying to find my purpose. I'm not sure what I want to do, but I do know that once I find out, I'll give 120% toward accomplishing it. Having a purpose can draw you away from the stresses of life--Throwing yourself into a purpose to drive away the distractions which emotional things can bring about.
    If you ever choose to do so you would make a very good missionary.
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  9. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockntractor View Post
    Read some of her books, start with atlas and you might change your mind about her. You don't have to agree with everything a person says to derive wisdom from them. don't cheat yourself through preconceptions.
    I have to admit, I tried reading this book and to me it's like reading a can of paint.
    The Obama Administration: Deny. Deflect. Blame.
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  10. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gingersnap View Post
    Although as a Christian, I can't accept Rand's views about religion, I have often said that if I was an atheist, I would be an Objectivist (with some misgivings).

    When you understand Objectivism a little more, you will see that soldiers, police, nurses, and others have an important place and that their professions are far from "immoral" in the Randian sense.

    Her quote in this article about having a purpose in life sheds a little light on that particular issue.

    Rand is completely correct about purpose. From a certain perspective, I am a rational Christian. Christianity has a moral view and set of values that I find to be extremely positive and practical. As she says, I don't have to deal with a thousand situational ethics problems every day. If stealing is off the menu for me, it's off the menu in every plausible situation. Same thing with lying, cheating, or killing. I don't need to run a calculus constantly.

    This isn't to say that a purpose can't be reevaluated in progress - it can, but having a purpose (even an imperfect purpose) is preferable to living at the whim of random emotions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rockntractor View Post
    If you ever choose to do so you would make a very good missionary.
    If you're being serious, why do you think that?
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