Friday, October 25, 2019

Is Ayn Rand’s Objectivism a Philosophy?

Philosophy, like physics, biology, and mathematics, has a methodology of its own. You might get acquainted on some aspects of the philosophical truth by following the philosophical method, but you can't do philosophy by reading works of fiction—but that is what Ayn Rand asks her followers to do. She developed objectivism by following a literary methodology, she could not produce a single treatise on any area of philosophy, and she founded the school of objectivism which is probably the most ignorant philosophy schools of the twentieth century.

Etienne Gilson’s thought provoking words in The Unity of Philosophical Experience (page 7) come to my mind: "I wish I could make clear from the very beginning that in criticizing great men, as I shall do, I am very far from forgetting what made them truly great. No man can fall a victim to his own genius unless he has genius; but those who have none are fully justified in refusing to be victimized by the genius of others. Not having made the mathematical discoveries of Descartes and Leibniz, we cannot be tempted to submit all questions to the rules of mathematics; but our very mediocrity should at least help us to avoid such a mistake. There is more than one excuse for being a Descartes, but there is no excuse whatsoever for being a Cartesian."

Taking an inspiration from Gilson’s words, I will say that there is more than one excuse for being an Ayn Rand, but there is no excuse whatsoever for being an objectivist. I am not trying to debase Rand as a fiction writer; she has written fine novels (not very good, but fine)—however, she never took philosophy seriously; she never tried to find the philosophical truth; she made no effort to learn philosophy. She is not fit to be a teacher of philosophy or the leader of a philosophy school. 

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