Ayn Rand and Objectivism

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Stephen L Smith, Oct 15, 2017.

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  1. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator

    I am interested in reflecting on Ayn Rand's Objectivism from a consistently Christian perspective. It seems to me there are two key books that helpfully summarise Objectivism. "The Vision of Ayn Rand: The Basic Principles of Objectivism" by Nathaiel Branden and "Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand" by Leonard Peikhoff. Branden and Peikhoff were closely associated with Rand at various stages of her life.

    For those of you who have looked at Objectivism, what do you make of the above two books?
     
  2. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Wasn't Peikhoff one of her disciples? It's probably an accurate reading of Rand.
     
  3. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator

    I understand Branden was the first to lecture on objectivism and this book is based on these lectures. Branden did have a falling out with Rand later on.
     
  4. Clark-Tillian

    Clark-Tillian Puritan Board Freshman

  5. Clark-Tillian

    Clark-Tillian Puritan Board Freshman

    And, yes, Branden had an incredible falling out with Rand. Allegedly, they were lovers, although he was married at them time, and when he broke that aspect his relationship off with Rand, she went ballistic.

    She's interesting but shallow. Two points:
    1. She is not a good philosopher--not by a stretch. Her abysmal usage of "selfishness" is enough to convict her. This is a notorious linguistic ambiguity.

    2. She's not a good novelist. She's good for short readings, but her characters are not rounded, they're wooden. She's turgid. Good grief a "speech" of more than 50 pages? I'll cut her some slack in that English wasn't her native tongue.

    Here's a link to Whittaker Chambers' excoriation of Atlas Shrugged in the National Review. Rand never forgave Buckley for publishing it.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/213298/big-sister-watching-you-whittaker-chambers
     
  6. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Basically a good summary of Rand. When Murray Rothbard and his wife were over at her house, she kept screaming at Murray to stomp on either a bible or a picture of Christ. Murray wasn't a Christian but he found that off putting and left.
     
  7. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    She was a horrible philosopher. She was some kind of metaphysical "foundationalist". She took these principles as axiomatic and without need for any explanation or argument. Making her "foundation" unstable at best. Objectivism is a worthless philosophy.
     
  8. Clark-Tillian

    Clark-Tillian Puritan Board Freshman

    That's funny. She did seem to go off half-cocked more than once.
     
  9. Clark-Tillian

    Clark-Tillian Puritan Board Freshman

    Agreed. It's borderline juvenile.
     
  10. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Yeah I had to pick up my ex-wife from the airport one time and I was reading a book about her, Rand. I already had a basic knowledge of philosophy and hated it. My poor ex-wife had to put up with me complaining all the way back to the house. Than she calmly informed me that we weren't going to talk about it anymore because she just got home and two hours was enough.
     
  11. Clark-Tillian

    Clark-Tillian Puritan Board Freshman

    That's a funny story. LOL
     
  12. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator

    Thank you - very insightful. Interesting that some objectivists call themseves Christian objectivists.
     
  13. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator

    Actually I find her, in one sense, refreshing to the relativistic postmodern stuff that passes for philosophy today.

    But in any case, is not all non Christian philosophy terrible and hopeless? In Bahnsen's "Van Til's Apologetic" he includes a excerpt from Van Til on the absolute failure of all non Christian philosophy. True, Rand did not have a proper foundation for her metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. But neither did Aristotle, Plato, Hume, Kant etc etc.
     
  14. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    There are different degrees of hopeless. Plato and Aristotle are actually useful. Ludwig von Mises, too. Rand, though, actively hated Christ.
     
  15. Clark-Tillian

    Clark-Tillian Puritan Board Freshman

    Indeed. Aristotle basically codified the laws of logic which, when used properly, are a great aid to clarity of thought. And, as far as they are true, they must spring from the mind of God. Will knowing logic save you? No. But they're a wonderful tool for communicating lucidly. I never got the sense that Rand actually read, studied, understood much philosophy at all. Analytic Philosophy is a great aid in dismantling her. Again, her ambiguous, abysmal, irrational use of the term "selfishness" is simultaneously infuriating and amusing. And she made this concept the basis of her ethics.
     
  16. Clark-Tillian

    Clark-Tillian Puritan Board Freshman

    Her novels, on one level, remind me of Paganini's Caprices--best enjoyed in small doses. The difference between Nicolo and Ayn is that he is an acknowledged musical genius--if you can play his musician on your fiddle, then very little in the field will be beyond your grasp. My son wrote better fiction than Rand at age 10.
     
  17. Clark-Tillian

    Clark-Tillian Puritan Board Freshman

    Just for conversation--who are some representative samples of the relativistic postmodern stuff that passes for philosophy today? Just curious.
     
  18. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator

    My country has just elected one of the most Socialist governments in our Parliamentary history. A "taste" of Ayn Rand's politics (but NOT morals) might be good for our parliament!
     
  19. Clark-Tillian

    Clark-Tillian Puritan Board Freshman

    Actually, from what I've read on those sites, it's rather that some Christians hold to the philosophy of Objectivism and are attempted to syncretize it with the faith. The one chap (I think the last one I listed) makes a commendable go of it. He's got an article/blog post from a year or so ago, that dismantles much of the "social justice" buffoonery that is endemic today. In that post he seems to be engaged in an analytic philosophy exercise; he does a good job discussing the terms used in that SJW movement, and then proves (in my view) that the entire concept enfeebles our ability to present the gospel.
     
  20. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Thank you.
     
  21. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Actually, it seems to me and others (Dr. William Edgar and Dr. K Scott Oliphint for instance) that Postmodernism has been on its way out for quite some time. But ideas have a bad time dying quickly. For what its worth.
     
  22. Clark-Tillian

    Clark-Tillian Puritan Board Freshman

    You're most welcome .
     
  23. Clark-Tillian

    Clark-Tillian Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes, the general culture always lags behind the academy. Most folks on the street aren't even nominally aware that they have a relativistic worldview.
     
  24. Clark-Tillian

    Clark-Tillian Puritan Board Freshman

  25. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

  26. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    Rothbard was from a Jewish background. I'm sure he found the request to be bizarre to say the least.

    Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk
     
  27. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    The story also goes that Rand told Rothbard that he needed to divorce his Catholic wife. That’s what ended the friendship.
     
  28. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator

    So was Rand.
     
  29. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator

    When I made my comment, I had in mind a comment in Jennifer Burns biography of Rand where she said that some students in the 1960's found Rand's philosophy a breath of fresh air compared to the relativistic teaching in their Universities.
     
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