Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Ball Bounces to Ayn Rand

You never know where the Balliverse is going to end up -- it expands in all directions, at once. A discussion on logic and cosmology quickly turned to the subject of... Ayn Rand.

Author Ayn Rand                                 Image via Wikipedia
I dug into the dusty recesses of the Ball mental archives and recalled reading an insightful article on Ayn Rand. Managed to dig it up.

... taken as a whole, there is a dismaying discrepancy between the Ayn Rand of real life and Ayn Rand as she presented herself to the world. The discrepancy is important because Rand herself made such a big deal about living a life that was the embodiment of her philosophy. "My personal life is a postscript to my novels," she wrote in the afterword to Atlas Shrugged. "It consists of the sentence: ‘And I mean it.' I have always lived by the philosophy I present in my books—and it has worked for me, as it works for my characters." As both books document, that statement was self-delusion on a grand scale.
One of the extensions of these premises to daily life is that "[o]ne must never attempt to fake reality in any manner," in words from The Virtue of Selfishness (1964) that appear in variations throughout Rand's work. To fake reality despoils that which makes human beings human. Wishful thinking, unrealistic hopes, duplicity, refusal to take responsibility for the consequences of one's actions—all these amount to faking reality and, to Rand, were despicable. But Rand herself faked reality throughout her life, beginning in small ways and ending with the construction of a delusional alternative reality that took over her life.
Like most persons, Ayn had trouble living her ideal. Which should make persons wary of attempting to follow her philosophy of life.  If she couldn't do it, what makes you think you can?

h/t Kathie Shaidle.

Whole enchilada here.
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rabbit said...

When I was young, I read a couple of Rand's novels (Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead), which I enjoyed despite the long tedious repetitive political dissertations scattered throughout.

But even then I thought objectivism -- whose fundamental tenet is that one must live one's life solely for one's own sake -- was an unworkable philosophy. How, for example, do we account for the responsibility that someone has to support one's immediate family?

Mark Plus said...

Psychotherapist Albert Ellis had run ins with Rand cultists in the 1960's, and he concluded that Rand's philosophy practically guarantees to make the people who try to live according to its impossible standards depressed, anxious and hostile. He even wrote a book to that effect. The recent biographies of Rand show that the emotional disturbances in her followers began at the source.

Ellis's form of psychotherapy, by contrast, emphasizes human limitations and fallibility, yet teaches strategies to live happily with our flaws.

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"