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gio

Ayn Rand and the French

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I just started a Youtube channel. I have a terrible accent and I probably make a lot of mistakes in English. I hope it's understandable. I devoted a video to the following topic: What do the French (in general) think about Ayn Rand? I would be glad to have your feedback.

 

 

Edited by gio

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Gio,

Do you hear in France today anything of the French philosopher Jean-Marie Guyau? Especially, do you know anything of his book Esquisse d'une Morale sans Obligation, ni Sanction? Nietzsche got the first edition hot off the press in 1885. I like some of Guyau's ideas in that book. Nietzsche, Guyau, and Rand all made moral theories based on biological human nature, they were all moral individualists, opposed to utilitarianism and to Kantian ethics and to Schopenhauer's pessimism. All three were completely secular, not theistic. The three had different conceptions of what was the basic nature of life per se, and this was harmonious with their three different moral conceptions. Guyau's moral theory was not an egoistic  one. I like his theory better than Nietzsche's predominant congealing view from about 1883 forward. Rand's moral view is more developed and systematic than either of those other two. Guyau was more friendly towards modern capitalistic society than was Nietzsche.

Rand had read some Nietzsche in Russia before coming to the US, but those were not good translations into Russian. One of her biographers here has mentioned to me that a course on Guyau was offered at Rand's university in Russia during her college years, but that she did not take that course.

This book of Guyau's was translated into English by an American near the end of the 19th Century. Guyau died young. As I recall, he had some influence on Bergson (and perhaps a bit on Nietzsche), but my impression has been that he was known best in late 19th and early 20th century. There is an American philosopher of that era named Josiah Royce who had some appreciation of Guyau. --S

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Yes I heard about Guyau when I was interested in Nietzsche. However, I 've never read him yet.
But I don't see the connexion with my video. 😄

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.

Oh, I was just interested what is your impression for the parallel question to yours: What do the French today think of Guyau? I was just curious, since I have an interest in this French philosopher.

By the way, I thought your English was fine.

Concerning a related question “What do Americans think of Ayn Rand?” my impressions are these:

The egoism she brought on the scene, beginning to get some notice in the 1940’s due to her book and film The Fountainhead, was foreign to America. Individualism, fine; egoism, hell’s bells. There were traces of egoism in Emerson, but nothing like this. By egoism, I mean the idea of having self-interest as the ultimate justification for every right action and the throwing out of any old virtues that cannot be justified on that basis. Her championing of reason and her jettison of faith and the supernatural is, as you know, perfectly normal for those in American academia. But the egoism and the attendant pure capitalism of her ethical and political philosophy mean that she is pretty roundly shut out of serious development by philosophers who have won a place in academia. Outside of academia, in the wider literate public, her view upholding full reason, including her dismissal of the supernatural, and her view of morality based purely on self-interest are anathema.

Though we are not a significant percentage of the American population, some of us read Rand and benefitted from her thought and productions in building our own wide understanding of things and in making a life for ourselves.

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In another, little-trafficked corner of OO I asked a question that got not response but that I'm still curious about:

 

A search turned up two full-length books, in French, that I'd never heard of. Is anybody here familiar with them?

Ayn Rand or The Passion of Rational Self-Interest: an Intellectual Biography

The Esthetic Philosophy of Ayn Rand

The second seems to be a synopsis of The Romantic Manifesto, enabling readers to get familiar with its ideas while no French translation is available. Reminds me of the way ancient authors were preserved and disseminated before the invention of printing.

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On 5/17/2018 at 12:06 AM, Boydstun said:

.Oh, I was just interested what is your impression for the parallel question to yours: What do the French today think of Guyau? I was just curious, since I have an interest in this French philosopher.

They don't think of him. As far as I can tell, he is virtually unknown, except for very few people among those who are interested in Philosophy.
I think, Ayn Rand is more known (or rather less unknown) in France than Guyau.

On 5/17/2018 at 12:49 AM, Reidy said:

A search turned up two full-length books, in French, that I'd never heard of. Is anybody here familiar with them?

Ayn Rand or The Passion of Rational Self-Interest: an Intellectual Biography

The Esthetic Philosophy of Ayn Rand

The second seems to be a synopsis of The Romantic Manifesto, enabling readers to get familiar with its ideas while no French translation is available. Reminds me of the way ancient authors were preserved and disseminated before the invention of printing.

You are right about the second one. It's a little summary chapter by chapter, available for free here. The author is a reader of my blog about Objectivism, and since he made that book, I've translated some chapters of The Romantic Manifesto.

The first one is supposed to be a biography of Ayn Rand. It was the only book in french about Ayn Rand since recently. The book was written by Alain Laurent, the publisher of Atlas Shrugged in France, who was also last year in a lecture with Yaron Brook. I was in the public, so was the author of the second book The Esthetic Philosophy of Ayn Rand. And I asked a question. Alain Laurent is also the publisher of The Virtue of Selfishness, but he removed most of the chapters, as I say in my video, including the introduction, to publish his own introduction.

Because he is the publisher of Ayn Rand and because of that book, Alain Laurent is viewed as the "expert" of Ayn Rand in France, so when the french medias talks about her, they have Alain Laurent as a guest. In my opinion, it's a scam, because Alain Laurent doesn't understand Objectivism at all (It's easy to prove, he disintegrates all ideas), commit some errors and is regulary very critical about Objectivism grounded on his non-understanding and errors.

One single example (among plenty): In the book you mentionned, he advocates that Ayn Rand is not a philosopher and that she had never read Kant, and criticize her for never quoting other philosophers. He wrote the same in his introduction of The Virtue of Selfishness, where he also says that Ayn Rand advocate some categorical imperatives. Clearly, he has never read Causality versus Duty.

And it's always like that : He regulary sees "contradictions" in Ayn Rand's philosophy...grounded on his own misunderstanging or ignorance.

As he is the only French voice, visible in the media, who talks about Ayn Rand. Many French people learn about Ayn Rand through him, i.e. through his errors, his fallacies and his superficial understanding. I think that there is no one who does not harm Objectivism in France any more than he does, though I'm pretty sure he views himself as a fair spreader of Ayn Rand. He is also very critical of the Objectivist movement.

Edited by gio

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Thank you for the information. Did Laurent do any new research for his biography?

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9 minutes ago, Reidy said:

Thank you for the information. Did Laurent do any new research for his biography?

No. As he said (in french) in the lecture with Yaron Brook, it's cheaper to reformulate what the others already wrote than to pay a translator. His book is mostly based on Ayn Rand and the World she Made by Anne C. Heller and The Godess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right by Jennifer Burns.

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