Ayn Rand

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Ayn Rand (2 February 1905 – 6 March 1982) was a Russian-American writer and philosopher who argued for a philosophical system of self interested individualism which she called objectivism. She spread her ideas in her two best selling novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, as well as later philosophical writings. Her work faced severe journalistic and academic criticism, who consider it sophomoric, unoriginal, melodramatic and "almost perfectly immoral". [1] Rand was an atheist and a fierce critic of religion and faith.

While vocally opposing government welfare programs, she was a recipient of Social Security and Medicare to cover her medical expenses.[2] Rand's defenders claim that since the government program is compulsory, she is not a hypocrite.[3]

Contents

Philosophy

She summed up her views as:

"Metaphysics: Objective Reality. Epistemology: Reason. Ethics: Self-interest. Politics: Capitalism. [4]"
"My philosophy, in 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."

Much of her philosophy is simply assertions without any justification. Rand advocated pro-choice with regard to abortion. [5] She also argued that the use of force should never be initiated. [6] Although she claimed that Aristotle was her only influence, her views were largely unoriginal and derivative of thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Adam Smith and John Locke. [7] Her emphasis on human life and rejection of theism is somewhat similar to Satanism and Humanism.

She coined the stolen concept fallacy, which points out most concepts depend on other more fundamental concepts which the argument must implicitly accept. However, there is no agreement on the alleged dependencies between concepts, so it makes the principle rather difficult to apply consistently.

"They proclaim that there is no law of identity, that nothing exists but change, and blank out the fact that change presupposes the concepts of what changes, from what and to what, that without the law of identity no such concept as “change” is possible. [8]"

On religion

"Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason. [9]"
"If I were a Christian, nothing could make me more indignant than that: the notion of sacrificing the ideal [Jesus] to the nonideal [humans], or virtue to vice. [9]"
"What are the evils man acquired when he fell from a state they consider perfection? Their myth declares that he [Adam] ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge—he acquired a mind and became a rational being. [9]"
"The purpose of man’s life [in Christianity...] is to become an abject zombie who serves a purpose he does not know, for reasons he is not to question. [9]"
"It has often been noted that a proof of God would be fatal to religion: a God susceptible of proof would have to be finite and limited; He would be one entity among others within the universe, not a mystic omnipotence transcending science and reality. What nourishes the spirit of religion is not proof, but faith, i.e., the undercutting of man’s mind. [9]"

Impact

While her ideas have had little impact in academia or philosophy generally, they have found popularity within right wing Anglo-American politics and libertarian movements.[10]

"she was a brilliant but repulsive person, who inveighed against tyranny but was a tyrant, and who demanded loyalty from the disciples of her philosophy of individualism and independence, oblivious to the stark paradox involved. [... Her philosophy] was black-and-white, without nuance or flexibility, harsh, angry and simplistic."

A. C. Grayling [11]

"Objectivism—a view that makes a religious fetish of selfishness and disposes of altruism and compassion as character flaws"

Sam Harris [12]

"Rand in my view is one of the most evil figures of modern intellectual history."

Noam Chomsky [13]

Her ideas are in stark contrast to Christian ethics (and most other religious systems), so those who claim to follow both beliefs are hypocrites.

References

  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. [3]
  4. Ayn Rand, Introducing Objectivism, p. 3
  5. [4]
  6. [5]
  7. Murray, Charles (2010). "Who is Ayn Rand?". The Claremont Institute. Archived from the original on December 1, 2013. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
  8. [6]
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 [7]
  10. [8]
  11. A. C. Grayling, The Challenge of Things: Thinking Through Troubled Times, 2015
  12. [9]
  13. [10]
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