Ayn Rand

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Ayn Rand

Postby JohnGalt717 on Sun Nov 06, 2005 3:20 am

Just have to mention Ayn Rand and her spectacular Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead.

As you can see by my username, I have an obsession with her philosophies and hold them very close to my heart, politically and economically.
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Postby Rainswept on Sun Nov 06, 2005 9:13 am

Dee Dee, always nice of you to stop by and be rude as hell.


I'm not quite an objectivist, but I definitely lean towards Ayn Rand's general principals of philosophy. For the most part its think for yourself and do what's right for yourself, and I couldn't agree more.

As for her fiction, well I have read hundreds and hundreds of novels. I love fiction in any form, and watch hundreds of movies a year. I don't have a favorite movie, because I enjoy so many of them for many different reasons, but I can make one statement that says all I can say about Ayn Rands quality as a novelist.

Atlas Shrugged is by far the best book I have ever read.
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Postby Omnieiunium on Sun Nov 06, 2005 3:23 pm

Normally I am not with Dee Dee on things, but I am with her this time. I am just saying that you have to deal with negative critism. Many of my favourite books have been bashed by my friends and if you can withstand that, then you should like them.

I don't think she was being rude, just stating her opinion.
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Postby Capellini on Sun Nov 06, 2005 4:54 pm

I think Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead are OUTSTANDING novels, and I like her other fiction work as well.

Her non-fiction stuff is a little to fundamentalist for me.
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Postby johngalt on Sun Nov 06, 2005 7:03 pm

I think that her novels are awesome. There is a reason they are required reading in many English courses. This is made even more amazing by the fact that English was not her first language. Even if you don't like her philosophy, I think the books still appeal to most people.
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Postby Capellini on Mon Nov 07, 2005 1:15 pm

I find her style of prose addictive. I think she's mastered the art of rich description without actually bogging down the plot, which is where I think many other authors (King and Brown come to mind) fail.
True terror lies in the futility of human existence.

Malcolm Reynolds is my co-pilot.

"The only freedom deserving the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental and spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest." - John Stuart Mill
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Postby JohnGalt717 on Tue Nov 08, 2005 10:59 pm

Being more critical of some of Rand's faults.
She does sometimes get impressed by her philosophies and go on for several pages or more. I am sure that anyone who has read Atlas Shrugged, can remember Galt's 75 page speech.

Aside from this minor fault, I believe that she has mastered the same type of writting that some authors, such as Dickens, are famous for (though I personally cannot stand Dickens). Every bit of her novels has meaningful detail to it. In the beginning of The Fountainhead she describes a church in Roark's (former) college's town. This description does not take away from the story in any way, in fact she relates to it later in the book.

I can understand completly how some people can not stand her. Her philosophies are extremly controversial and, quite frankly, her books can be thought of as very dull.
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Postby Pixiest on Fri Nov 11, 2005 1:45 am

Reading Galt's 75 page manifesto in Atlas Shrugged reminded me a bit of Yanush in Ghostbusters 2 (Now THERE is a comparison I bet you thought you'd never hear anyone make.)

Anyway Vigo is going on and on and Yanush says "Yes, yes I am hearing this already..."

If you've been paying attention for the first 8000 pages of Shrugged, Galt's 75 page speech is just the same thing you've already heard. There is no reason for it. She could have trimmed it down to 5 or 6 pages and put the rest in one of her many many essays (oh wait, it was in those as well.)

Anyway, I enjoy Rand and I agree with much of her philosophy, being a libertarian. But Galt's Speech was a bit much.

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Postby Guy Grand on Sat Nov 19, 2005 3:55 pm

Ah Rand, the L. Ron Hubbard of literature. Having plodded my weary way through The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged (an experience akin to swimming through treacle in a full eighteenth-century diving suit) I have to ask, what's the damn fascination? I've struggled to find a moderate admirer of Miss R's work and come up empty, her fans seem to have elevated her, in a secular form of idol-worship, to the status of the greatest novelist, the very best philosopher, the art critic without equal.

Just for Auntie, I managed to dig up Mozart Was a Red, Murray N. Rothbard's glorious little poison pen letter to Objectivism. Along with Thomas Wolff's Old School scenes it's the funniest Rand-blasting I've read in many a year. Enjoy.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/mozart.html
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Postby Capellini on Sat Nov 19, 2005 4:18 pm

Rand has a particular style of writing, and she writes in that style immaculately. If you're not a fan of it, you're not, but if you are, it's hard to find an author who does it better. Which is why you have few people who 'just kind of like' her work.

I see Stephen King as a good comparison. I know few people who think he's not too bad. I know people who love him, and people who hate him.
True terror lies in the futility of human existence.

Malcolm Reynolds is my co-pilot.

"The only freedom deserving the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental and spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest." - John Stuart Mill
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Postby Aleph-One on Mon Dec 12, 2005 3:30 am

I am entirely unimpressed with her epistemology. For beginners, not only is it an out-and-out postulate that "man's reason is competent to know all of the fact of reality" it is wrong. I hate to dig up the old Heisenberg chesnut again (since it's all too frequently thrown around by people who don't know what they're talking about) but that does nicely. If you ask me to measure two observables whose operators don't commute with an arbitrary degree of accuracy, I'm going to fail. No amount of thinking, mathematics or experiment will correct this.

Now, the natural response to this might be "Well, so what? We can't know both, but we can know something about the particle." And that's exactly right. But the point is that this is the response of a pragmatist, not an objectivist. I don't posit that all knowledge is unattainable, but some of it certainly is.

I also have a problem with the frequently touted "A is A" line. I'm not actually sure what it's supposed to illustrate. "A" is a symbol -- a human construct that doesn't live anywhere but in your head (and don't be a smartass -- yes, the graphite on your paper or the light coming out of your monitor might form the likeness of an "A", but it's your interpretation of it that gives it meaning). If the statement that "A is A" is to confer some kind of information regarding the structure of reality, and if it is at the same time only an idealistic object, then the basis for Ayn Rand's epistemology is straight-up Platonism. There are considerably more metaphysical assumptions implicit in her philosophy than is ever admitted. Really, Ayn Rand's philosophy of objectivism is just a regurgitation of platonism and rationalism. Neither work. As a few examples:

1) In constructing a mathematical space, we are at liberty to assume all kinds of dimensions, metrics, topologies, and the like. An empirical judgement was needed in order to declare that we had ought to be doing classical mechanics in euclidean 3-space. Now, Rand leaves her definition of "reason" as "that faculty by which we acquire knowledge", so this example may, on the surface, appear to do nothing for my case. The problem is the wholesale Platonism and idealism involved in Rand's philosophy. If "A is A" is supposed to confer something about reality, or any other idealistic statement or object, why do I not know, a priori, what I had ought to do when describing nature? That's a valid contention, when we consider what Platonism was designed to do:

2) Platonism was created to explain our ability to recognize things. Why is this a chair? Why is that a cow? And so on. It's answer: we recognize their immutable forms. Yeah, we recognize them because we recognize them. Thanks Plato! I think modern neurology has got this one pegged.

3) [Edit]It's only just dawned on me that our inability to know the facts of reality by thought alone undermines her metaphysics too. "Reality exists independently of our knowledge of it," says Rand. "No," says I. Since our knowledge must come experimentally, and since experiments change the thing being observed, acquiring knowledge changes reality in some small way. Reality exists without us, yes. I'd also say that we do not create reality, that things exist whether we know about them or not, but the conditions of their existence is not utterly independent of our knowledge. I'll give you that this is mostly nitpicking, and I know what she was trying to say, but I think it also means something that she was sloppy in her language.[/Edit]

Read some Hume or Rescher... they're better for your brain. People try to give Karl Popper credit for the modern scientific philosophy, and might suggest adding him to that list, and that's crap. There isn't anything Popper ever wrote about the scientific method that Darwin hadn't already done. Give the props to Chucky where they belong.
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Postby johngalt on Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:24 pm

Aleph-One wrote: I hate to dig up the old Heisenberg chesnut again (since it's all too frequently thrown around by people who don't know what they're talking about) but that does nicely.


One issue with this point. We have found a way to violate Heisenberg's uncertainty Principle. It involves quantum bound electrons and is rather complicated to explain in this setting, besides the fact that I don't know the whole story, but I know the basic principle of how it works.

Besides the fact that you are using Quantum theory to try to argue against a philosophy based on Newtonian systems. Any physicist will tell you that this doesn't work. Until we figure out the theory of everything (M-Theory) you cannot try to apply them here.

The point of the philosophy where Rand says "Man is capable of knowing the nature of reality" she is saying that we can know what we are, how we interact with each other, and all of that stuff. Philosophy is not concerned with quantum physics. It is based on human interaction, which we are capable of knowing. What she is saying is that there is no "God" or "Divine Being" who interferes in things to make them incomprehensible. I am afraid the qualms you listed are based on a misinterpretation of Rand. No offence intended.
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Postby Rebeckle on Mon Dec 12, 2005 7:06 pm

Guy Grand wrote:Ah Rand, the L. Ron Hubbard of literature. Having plodded my weary way through The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged (an experience akin to swimming through treacle in a full eighteenth-century diving suit) I have to ask, what's the damn fascination? I've struggled to find a moderate admirer of Miss R's work and come up empty, her fans seem to have elevated her, in a secular form of idol-worship, to the status of the greatest novelist, the very best philosopher, the art critic without equal.

Just for Auntie, I managed to dig up Mozart Was a Red, Murray N. Rothbard's glorious little poison pen letter to Objectivism. Along with Thomas Wolff's Old School scenes it's the funniest Rand-blasting I've read in many a year. Enjoy.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/mozart.html


*raises hand* I think she's "pretty alright"... if that makes you feel any better...most of the people in my little literary circle as well give her "damn smart lady... onto something" but that's about it.
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Postby Aleph-One on Wed Dec 14, 2005 2:54 am

johngalt wrote:Besides the fact that you are using Quantum theory to try to argue against a philosophy based on Newtonian systems.


Which is every bit as valid as when Schrodinger hauled off on Kant's notion that time is a product of internal intuition by citing the general theory of relativity. If the philosophy of Ayn Rand is based off of the philosophy of Newton, then the philosophy of Ayn Rand is wrong.

And, as I said before, for someone who was such a self-important proponent of the precision of language, if she didn't mean that "man's reason is sufficient to know all of the facts of reality", then she shouldn't have said it.
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Postby Capellini on Wed Dec 14, 2005 1:12 pm

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I think a book can be good because it was good, and its quality had little to do with the accuracy of the facts that hold up the writer's personal life philosophy.

Now I have to do research into the personal philosophies of ALL my favorite authors? I don't have time for that. I guess its back to reality television.
True terror lies in the futility of human existence.

Malcolm Reynolds is my co-pilot.

"The only freedom deserving the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental and spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest." - John Stuart Mill
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