Tuesday, 19 April 2005

Ayn Rand at 100

Reason has an evaluation of Ayn Rand by Cathy Young, 100 years after her birth, noting how "Objectivism remains, for most people, a way station on a journey to some wider outlook". These two extracts struck me:
In its pure form, Rand’s philosophy would work very well indeed if human beings were never helpless and dependent through no fault of their own. Thus, it’s hardly surprising that so many people become infatuated with Objectivism as teenagers and “grow out of it” later, when concerns of family, children, and old age—their own and their families’—make that fantasy seem more and more impossible.

...

Rand’s philosophy admitted no contradictions or paradoxes in reality; but reality is full of apparently irreconcilable truths. The truth of what Rand said about the heroic human spirit and individual self-determination does not negate the truth that human beings often find themselves at the mercy of circumstances beyond their control and dependent on others through no fault of theirs. The truth of the self-sufficient soul coexists with the truth of the vital importance of human connections.
It always seemed to me that the love of Rand's philosophy often depends on never being out of control: Young makes the point that Rand refused to acknowledge her own cancer, and that Rand seems to dismiss the emotive meaning of family.

Apropos of nothing, back in college we had this running joke about creating an Ayn Rand musical that somehow conflates Randian objectivist philosophy with Caliban from The Tempest. And the fact that she was chummy with Alan Greenspan, back in the days when Greenspan had just stopped being a boho jazz musician. You had to be there, I guess.



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