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Ayn Rand's stigma

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A while back, I was having an argument about something or other with a person and was winning. Every time he made his case, I made sure my counter-arguments were fallacy free, as well as grounded in Objectivist thought. He slowly conceded to each one of my points as the exchange continued. Toward the end, I used an Ayn Rand quote as part of my argument because her wording exemplified the point I was trying to make perfectly.

As soon as I did that, his attitude completely changed. No longer was he receptive. He immediately declared that I "wasn't going to make any friends quoting Ayn Rand" and that he didn't see a purpose in discussing things further.

I was curious to see if other people have run up against this phenomenon, where you are expressing ideas to a person which they either agree with or are forced to concede to, but as soon as you mention the name Ayn Rand they completely shut down. It really leads me to believe that the average person truly has no idea what her philosophy is about at all. But if her name is left off of her ideas, the philosophy somehow becomes more appealing.

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I was curious to see if other people have run up against this phenomenon, where you are expressing ideas to a person which they either agree with or are forced to concede to, but as soon as you mention the name Ayn Rand they completely shut down. It really leads me to believe that the average person truly has no idea what her philosophy is about at all. But if her name is left off of her ideas, the philosophy somehow becomes more appealing.

Yes, misconceptions run rampant.

Best to do what you did first without Rand referenced. If you still get that reaction after a significant number of conversations of agreement, simply ask him what about Rand creates that emotion? Then remind him that everything he agreed to is consistent with her philosophy. That should - albeit slowly - correct the emotional response.

Interestingly, I have had conversations with several people where I conveyed Obj.ist ideas; and after some time without referencing her but with them integrating what I said with what they hear in the news et al, they tell me they are reading one of her books. That certainly opens the door.

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I was curious to see if other people have run up against this phenomenon, where you are expressing ideas to a person which they either agree with or are forced to concede to, but as soon as you mention the name Ayn Rand they completely shut down. It really leads me to believe that the average person truly has no idea what her philosophy is about at all. But if her name is left off of her ideas, the philosophy somehow becomes more appealing.

Yeah, I've definitely experienced that kind of a shutdown with the mention of her name or one of her novels. A lot of people have some hazy yet incredibly negative view of what kind of person she was and what she advocated, and respond with derision or disgust at anyone they come to think of as an "Ayn Rand person". Where to go from there depends on the context of the situation and discussion.

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Tribal conditioning. Only way to sidestep it is avoiding any mention of names and group labels while gently coaxing the critical thinking faculties out of dormancy.

And even if you win the argument, the conditioning will very likely re-assert itself as soon as you are out of sight.

It takes a great level of humility as well as internal innocence to even attempt overcoming bad philosophy when it's internalized; it's like re-wiring your own sense of identity.

Edited by Mister A

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It takes a great level of humility as well as internal innocence to even attempt overcoming bad philosophy when it's internalized; it's like re-wiring your own sense of identity.

In this instance, we're not really talking about overcoming bad philosophy; the other participant in the discussion conceded every philosophical point. We're just talking about overcoming a negative perception of the person of Ayn Rand. Depending on how willing the other person is to incorporate new evidence into their views or particular people, this could be fairly easy.

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In this instance, we're not really talking about overcoming bad philosophy; the other participant in the discussion conceded every philosophical point.

The argument against ad hominem is a philosophical point. He didn't concede that one. I'm with Mister A. The guy was losing the argument, and jumped on the first excuse to flip the board.

The only people who view Ayn Rand in a negative light without knowing her work are those who have been conditioned to do so by leftists or religious right wingers.

Edited by Tanaka

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Yeah this is a problem. I would love to cite Ayn Rand in some of my philosophy papers, but I know that if I did my paper would get a bad grade. This leaves me not wanting to use her arguments at all because it would be plagiarism.

Do you think it is okay to make Objectivist arguments but act like they are completely new ideas?

The two problems I see happening are either me getting caught, and also it isn't very fair to Ayn Rand.

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Yeah this is a problem. I would love to cite Ayn Rand in some of my philosophy papers, but I know that if I did my paper would get a bad grade. This leaves me not wanting to use her arguments at all because it would be plagiarism.

Do you think it is okay to make Objectivist arguments but act like they are completely new ideas?

The two problems I see happening are either me getting caught, and also it isn't very fair to Ayn Rand.

Well there are a number of Objectivists who have been published in philosophy journals in recent years. If you're talking about one of those topics, you could cite one of those. You definitely shouldn't act as though the ideas are completely new.

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Maybe they can see that her ideas are unrefuted.

I believe that is the case, and it makes some people very, very uncomfortable.

I recently got side tracked out of a discussion after I said, "...but your premise is wrong." The premise was, in fact, wrong however the discussion changed to attack me for stating something so definitively. "It isn't that the premise is wrong, it is that we disagree about it."

The idea of something being right or wrong is still foreign to many people. Ayn Rand was right, and when one cannot refute something, they often resort to attacking the messenger instead.

Edited by freestyle

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Well there are a number of Objectivists who have been published in philosophy journals in recent years. If you're talking about one of those topics, you could cite one of those. You definitely shouldn't act as though the ideas are completely new.

I suffer from the same issue as Element at times...in University. The main one I am aware of that has gotten into academic journals of some kind is Tara Smith. If you are able to list off any more of these I would greatly appreciate it.

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Well there are a number of Objectivists who have been published in philosophy journals in recent years. If you're talking about one of those topics, you could cite one of those. You definitely shouldn't act as though the ideas are completely new.

Good idea.

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Note that it's a general phenomenon, not just re Rand. I have had similar experiences multiple times, over Rand, Fuller, and others.

What happened is you won the argument on the merits, but as a last ditch means to not concede, your friend found the most convenient discrediting of your words he could. He behaved like a poor loser, that's all.

When I preface with 'Ayn rand said ...' in conversation prior to speaking her words, I usually do so to be clear that I was not the originator, as a nod to Ayn, don't want to be seen as carpet-bagging on her good works.

But I find it's often simpler to just omit the attribution unless someone asks, if I think they will be unreceptive if they know the source. After all, it is the ideas I want them to accept first; if they later discover those ideas to be Ayn's, it will be harder for them to blank out a good idea once accepted, then to ignore it in the first place.

(added via edit): And besides, Ayn would say that, if you understand her ideas, they are yours as much as hers, now, even if she is the original. And she would also encourage you to leverage her ideas and take credit for the offshoots -- with appropriate attribution, of course.

- ico

Edited by icosahedron

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I live in Mexico and, for good or bad, I don't have to deal this problem.

Nobody has heard about Ayn Rand. Nobody has read Atlas Shrugged. And I don't mean the common man on the street, but even people who have studied philosophy in this country or who like literature.

I can confidently say "According to Ayn Rand..." and expect puzzlement (not rejection) in the face of the person I'm talking to.

I was once giving a lecture of "Autonomy" as a principle in the bioethics of clinical research. There was one in the audience that, after I finished, came to me to ask me whether I was a stalwart "Kantian". :confused: (Kant gave a lot of emphasis to autonomy in his ethics, and current bioethics is dominated by pragmatists, fighting now and then with samll Kantian and utilitarian minotiries).

I suppose the situation is the same in many other countries.

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I wonder, do O'ists need to do missionary works? Like, for starters, making sure that more than just Ayn's two big novels are translated into all the living languages spoken on Earth?

- ico

IMO, better then to teach English. I went through TF and AS without any problems. I might've looked up a dozen words in total, probably less than I would need to for Swedish books written in '43 and '57.

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IMO, better then to teach English. I went through TF and AS without any problems. I might've looked up a dozen words in total, probably less than I would need to for Swedish books written in '43 and '57.

1. 43+57=100

2. 100 is illuminati

3.

4. ....profit

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Here's a fascinating puddle of ill-informed vomit about why anyone who enjoys the works of Ayn Rand is deranged....in of all things a business magazine.

http://www.bnet.com/blog/salesmachine/top-10-reasons-ayn-rand-was-dead-wrong/11984

Some highlights:

Did you know the fact that we have been applying the principles of laissez-faire capitalism up to now is the cause of our current recession?

Did you know that Objectivist parents do not love their children because Ayn Rand says it's irrational?

Did you know Rand was a pervert who went insane when NBrandon left her for a better looking woman?

Did you know that Howard Roark was a terrible architect? (funny- I thought he was a fictional character :lol: )

Did you know we don't need anyone to be fighting back against Marxism anyway because that concept is completely dead anyway?

Well, now you do, enjoy.

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Most of the misconceptions in there which are repeated ad nauseum really annoy me, but I always have to chuckle a little when people try to argue that reality isn't an objective absolute. From the article:

Reality is NOT an objective absolute. There’s no way to tell whether reality is objective or not because it can only be perceived subjectively. While it could be argued that the consensus of multiple subjective realities equals objective reality, the exact same logic would also assign objective reality to Jung’s archetypes, which appear inside every human being’s dreams. In any case, measuring something changes the thing measured, so simply perceiving “reality” changes the nature of reality. Therefore, so it can’t be absolute.

Where do they find these people?

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Where do they find these people?

These people aren't found- they're created. Deliberately.

Decanted in Hatcheries, methinks.

"And that after this is accomplished, and the Brave New World begins

When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins..."

~Kipling

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