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DonAthos

The Passion of Ayn Rand: What's the Big Deal?

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So, I just today finished reading Barbara Branden's biography of Rand, The Passion of Ayn Rand, and I have to say, I don't really understand why it caused a furor in the Objectivist community (or so I have been told as I was not around to witness the reception firsthand). Maybe it's a generational thing, belonging to a very specific time and place, but could anyone with the experience I lack help me to understand the nature of the controversy?

What was it about Rand's portrayal that was so questionable (for I can only conclude that this must be the issue in some respect), and why was whatever it was so significant? So far as I can tell, there is no aspect to Objectivism that is challenged -- or could be challenged -- by Rand's personality or personal history, so why should I get worked up about such details in the first place?

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There is no reason anyone not involved should care.   

Some people expect philosophers to uphold a standard of conduct similar to Jesus Christ or the Buddha or Aristotle or Socrates.  Ayn Rand disappoints them in that regard.  That has nothing to do with arguments and theories which she advocated.  

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One difficulty with it might have been that it created fodder or material for detractors and regressives who very often rely on ad hominem attacks... no matter how logically flawed, such yammerings are very annoying and hard to counter when third parties (population at large) are swayed by such tactics.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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The big shockeroo was the revelation that AR had been unfaithful to her husband. People had gossiped, but this was the first time anybody attested to it on the record. Attendant to that was the revelation that she hadn't come clean to her public about the reasons for her break with NB.

Just to speculate, I imagine the book was offensive to Peikoff, implying as it did that either he hadn't known this during Rand's lifetime (despite his claims to have been close to her) or that he had (and had cooperated in the deception). He finally admitted, at one of his Ford Hall Forum appearances, that he'd learned about the affair from her journals shortly after her death. That's the worst of both, if you think about it: she never saw fit to tell her self-appointed "intellectual heir" and he kept it a secret once he found out.

Edited by Reidy

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