Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Why Ayn Rand Failed as a Philosopher?

Ayn Rand was probably unaware that philosophy provides the proximate explanations and not the ultimate explanations. She started her philosophy of objectivism with the intention of providing the ultimate explanations for living happily on earth.

She and her followers saw themselves as the chosen people, they regarded the truth that they embraced as the ultimate truth, they envisioned a perfect civilization which they would create after vanquishing the imperfect civilization that exists today. Their agenda was so monumental and magnificent that only an entity with superhuman powers, a “god”, could have achieved it. The objectivists didn’t have a god, but they had a perfect mind in the person of Rand. After all, 100% certainty implies 100% perfection and as Rand was 100% certain, she had a perfect mind.

And so what was originally conceived as a “philosophy of reason and individualism,” soon morphed into a movement that is dedicated to worshipping its founder as the perfect mind and the world’s ultimate repository of ultimate explanations.

I believe that Skepticism is the fountainhead of philosophy. A man who is convinced that he is a repository of all the ultimate explanations will make a lousy philosopher. I am not saying that a philosopher should be skeptic all the time and about everything—but he must never lose sight of the fact the “philosophical arguments” that he is providing may invite counter-arguments.

Rand has written good novels, but as a philosopher, she was a failure because she was incapable of having any kind of self-doubt. She never cared to examine the arguments of all those who disagreed with her on any issue because she was 100% certain that she was always right.


Chris R Cathcart said...

It's a bit hard to make much sense of your thesis if you don't provide anything by way of documenting detail and clarification of key concepts.

Let's test the following hypothesis: Rand was right, and you're wrong about her, because she is basing her certainty in an induction of a vast set of contents. This is all made quite evident in the more advanced Objectivist materials which you've said in the past you've studied with due care. It's all about the art of context-keeping, etc., a theme Sciabarra has glommed onto quite well and which you seem to just miss.

Is there the slightest error, on inductive grounds, in Rand's "What is Capitalism?" essay? I've been giving much thought to that essay over the decades and I think the reasoning is airtight and of world-historic importance.

Why not give Ayn Rand the *full* credit she deserves? I take Rand to task on her polemics but my thoughts pretty much mirror those of George H Smith:
What the heck do you suppose Sciabarra is up to with all that exhaustive 'dialectical libertarian' scholarship of which both Rand and Aristotle are an integral aspect and inspiration?
Also what is your take on this from Hospers?
I could go on and on...

Anoop Verma said...

Chris, I am not denying the positive work that Rand has done. For instance, I continue to be a fan of her novels. The Fountainhead is a great book, I have always said that. But the problems are in her philosophy of objectivism.

Why did she select Nathaniel for the job of the CEO of Objectivism? And after Nathaniel was evicted why did she give the same job to Peikoff? Running a philosophical movement is a complicated job--first of all she should not have given her philosophy a name, and secondly she had too high expectations from the ignorant kind of people that she had collected around her.

I think we can keep talking about these issues for days and weeks, there is no end to that.