Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Saurabh

On Competing with Others

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Hi,

I am interested in knowing Objectivism's position on 'Competing with Others'.

I vaguely remember John Galt saying (in AS) that he does not enter into Competitions. I also have a vague sense that AR says that Life is not a Zero-Sum Game so, human beings need not compete with each other.

But, all the above are vague impressions. Can anyone point me any specific source? Thanks!

Saurabh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am interested in knowing Objectivism's position on 'Competing with Others'.

Depends on the context.

Competition is inherent in the act of producing something - in free trade.

It is not the goal but the by-product of same.

In competitive activities outside the realm of producing - e.g. sports, there really is no philosophical position: the interest there is totally up to the desires of the participant.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm pretty sure this refers to Rand's version of the harmony of rational interests. Basically that since values are objective, so is a person's rational self-interest, and thus one person's interests are not advanced by subtracting from another person's interests. The only time I can remember Galt mentioning competition is when he said he is withdrawing from it. But you can kind of see, in this context, that Rand definitely has in mind an ethics that you achieve your ultimate end from self-actualization, a process stemming from within. So achieving your well-being isn't something you take from someone else in a competition, or win from beating someone else, and that's what she means by life not being a zero-sum game. But outside of that meaning, of course there are various kinds of competitions in life. Competition is viewed as a basic fact of living in a dynamic universe, discussed under the "Effort" category of the first essay below:

See Rand, “The ‘Conflicts’ of Men’s Interests,” in The Virtue of Selfishness, pp. 57–65 for a full discussion of this issue, as well as Peikoff, OPAR, pp. 234–237, and Smith, Viable Values, pp. 174–186, Smith Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics, pp.38-46. Rand also makes relevant remarks in Journals of Ayn Rand, p. 292

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

TLD,

My question's context was in the realm of Production. (I have got a very good reply already from 2046).

2046,

Many thanks for your reply. It is indeed very helpful. Also, I am amazed at how you can recall the actual page numbers as well!

Thanks again guys!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A relevant example of this is in Chapter 2 of The Fountainhead: When Keating was going to Stanton, he had always been competitive with his schoolwork. One person he was competitive towards was Ted Shlinker, and Keating absolutely had to beat him, and be the top person in the class. Obviously, competition like this isn't really good, where one is only working to be better than others. I don't think that being better than other for the sake of being better than others is an ideal way to achieve one's goals. Of course, like TLD said, competition in another context, i.e. the free market, is good, not to mention necessary. In a free-market situation, one is working to achieve his interests, not just for the sake of being the best.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A relevant example of this is in Chapter 2 of The Fountainhead: When Keating was going to Stanton, he had always been competitive with his schoolwork. One person he was competitive towards was Ted Shlinker, and Keating absolutely had to beat him, and be the top person in the class. Obviously, competition like this isn't really good, where one is only working to be better than others. I don't think that being better than other for the sake of being better than others is an ideal way to achieve one's goals. Of course, like TLD said, competition in another context, i.e. the free market, is good, not to mention necessary. In a free-market situation, one is working to achieve his interests, not just for the sake of being the best.

It is healthy to want to be the best you can be, and challenging yourself to be the best in the class is one way to achieve that. That is not "for the sake of being better than others."

The latter can create another problem: if you are not better (say in class) than another and still want to beat him but fail, then you have created a dilemma that could hurt you psychologically and result in envy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is healthy to want to be the best you can be, and challenging yourself to be the best in the class is one way to achieve that. That is not "for the sake of being better than others."

The latter can create another problem: if you are not better (say in class) than another and still want to beat him but fail, then you have created a dilemma that could hurt you psychologically and result in envy.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I wasn't talking about being competitive in class in general, I was just talking about Keating's case as an example.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's an interesting discussion about competition that occurs between Dagny Taggart and Dan Conway in Atlas Shrugged, page 80 in my edition, after the Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog rule is passed. That law essentially destroys Dan Conway, who is a competitor to Dagny, and secures Dagny's Rio Norte line (but through coercive legislation, not honest competition). Afterwards, she says the following to Conway:

"Look, I intended to give you the battle of your life, down there in Colorado. I intended to cut into your business and squeeze you to the wall and drive you out , if necessary... Only I didn't think it would be necessary. I thought there was enough room there for both of us... Still, if I found out there wasn't, I would have fought you, and if I could make my road better than yours, I'd have broken you and not given a damn about what happened to you. But this... Dan, I don't think I want to look at our Rio Norte Line now. I... Oh God, Dan, I don't want to be a looter!"

There's another conversation between Dagny and Rearden a few pages later (83-88 in my version) that touches on the same topic. They're haggling over the price of rails, Dagny is desperate and Rearden knows it:

Rearden: "So you think it's right that I should squeeze every penny of profit I can, out of your emergency?"

Dagny: "Certainly. I don't think you're in business for my convenience."

Rearden: "Don't you wish I were?"

Dagny: "I'm not a moocher, Hank."

Basically, all's fair in free market competition; because it is based on competing to offer the most value to consumers, it is entirely proper to compete wholeheartedly and without regard for your competitors. It's their job to try to produce even more value than you. Competition is simply the way that you earn the business of your consumers. Free market competition occurs within the context of harmony of interests; it's all about producing value, and doing it as effectively as you can. However, using government power to shut down one's competitors is always improper; using coercive force sets you in direct conflict with the lives and livelihoods of your victims.

Edited by Dante

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...