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Dennis Hardin

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Everything posted by Dennis Hardin

  1. Pencil sketch of Ayn Rand from Sunday afternoon, June 11, 1967, as she watched Nathaniel Branden lecture on romantic love at the Sheraton-Atlantic Hotel in New York City. As you can see, I did the sketch while taking notes. I was sitting two rows behind her. This was roughly a year prior to their break. The hotel is no longer there. It used to be adjacent to the Empire State Building.
  2. The point of course is that the movie should motivate people to buy the book. This movie will have the opposite effect. Very few people are going to read Atlas Shrugged because of this movie. If they do, then the poor quality of the movie will not matter. But some people—not a lot, but some-- may never read it because of this awful movie. As to being concerned with the film’s badness: I know it isn’t cool to make moral evaluations and explain why you make them. Atlas Shrugged is a supreme value of mine. I’m just not very cool when it comes to my values.
  3. I’ve often thought that Ayn Rand was wrong to condemn libertarianism for corrupting her philosophy. With all their faults, I have often defended libertarians, and obviously many of them are good, admirable people. After seeing AS3, though—which might be described as a libertarian perversion of Atlas Shrugged—I would have to say Rand was justified in her fears and misgivings. Part Three was the most important part of the trilogy because it was supposed to explain everything that happened in the first two segments. Instead, it obfuscates the story and totally sidesteps the real philosophical issues involved. It relegates the collapse of Rearden steel to the cinematic equivalent of a sound bite. And Galt’s vacuous, disjointed speech explains nothing. It is not only the implied mixture of Objectivism and religion (with Glenn Beck, et. al., giving their stamp of approval to a philosophically banal Galt’s Speech). It is the generally pathetic quality of the film itself from just about every angle—writing, casting, directing, acting, et. al. Consider this comment from The Village Voice: “Rand's parable is meant to showcase just how much our world needs the best of us, but this adaptation only does so accidentally — by revealing what movies would be like if none of the best of us worked on them.” Critics love to portray Ayn Rand as a philosophical nitwit. Now they have a movie from her alleged followers they can offer in evidence. The film makes Objectivists look not only elitist but pretentious and foolish. Not to mention singularly unheroic and intellectually confused. Egoism, like the evil of force, is not an axiom. When civilization collapses due to the wihdrawal of the “men of the mind,” the typical movie goer could understandably blame Galt and his incoherent defense of selfishness, not government coercion. Sadly, many potential readers will never buy the novel after seeing or reading reviews of this film. It is so laughably bad they may dismiss Objectivism as some bizarre ideology like scientology. (Remember “Battlefield Earth”?) They will never know what they missed. Atlas Shrugged Part 3 may well go down as libertarianism’s worst crime against Ayn Rand and Objectivism. Anarchism was bad enough, but the anarchists have never received much attention. Fortunately, few people have heard of the naïve, rationalist “theory” of anarcho-capitalism. But now libertarians have produced a “major motion picture” which may further serve to marginalize Ayn Rand and Objectivism as a lunatic fringe.
  4. According to The New York Post, the budget for AS3 was almost entirely raised through Kickstarter. It was around $447K, compared to 20 million for Part 1 and 10 million for Part 2. So perhaps Glenn Beck, Ron Paul and Sean Hannity bought their own cameos. And silence on the topic of religion. What the heck? Why bicker over some technical philosophical issue?
  5. It was a total disaster. The low point for me was the Glenn Beck cameo. Evidently the producers think Objectivism is perfectly compatible with Christianity. OMG I can't help but wonder what the producer of The Godfather--Al Ruddy--might have done with Rand's novel if she had not stood in his way. I guess now any hope for a film adaptation that truly honors the book is lost. This movie should be an embarrassment for everyone in any way responsible. What a travesty!
  6. I was present at Branden's lecture and heard him make this comment. I recall thinking that Binswanger was liikely the main person he was referencing, but since he didn't name names, that is obviously speculation on my part.
  7. At a lecture many years ago, Nathaniel Branden spoke about a few "Objectivist intellectuals" (the kind often referred to as pencil-necked geeks) for whom Ayn Rand expressed profound contempt. She had conveyed her true feelings about these individuals in confidence, and Branden indicated they never knew of her disdain. He didn't name names, but if you've ever seen Binswanger in person, there's little doubt about whom she was referring to.
  8. Harry Binswanger makes me feel embarrassed to call myself an Objectivist.
  9. I met Barbara in 1989 and had numerous lengthy discussions with her. I regarded her as a good friend. She was always an inspiration to me, beginning with her years at NBI in New York. I believe her numerous contributions to the Objectivist philosophy will eventually be given the importance she deserved. She will be missed.
  10. You're welcome, Tony. BTW, in his article, Biddle talks about Bryan Caplan, a libertarian pacifist. Caplan used to attend an intellectual srudy group for Objectivists which I ran back in the late 1980s in Los Angeles. He was a briliant youngster and we had numerous late hour discussions at coffee shops. Where oh where did I go wrong????
  11. Here is Biddle’s most recent comment on Objectivists associating with libertarians: “None of this is to say that radical capitalists and libertarians should never engage or work together. It can be perfectly principled for radical capitalists to engage with libertarians, so long as in doing so we do not blur the distinctions between the respective ideologies. If the goal of the engagement is morally legitimate—say, to educate libertarians as to the need of philosophy in defense of liberty, or to encourage people to ask their representatives to support the repeal of a rights-violating law, or the like—and if radical capitalists do not make any concessions to the effect that philosophy is unnecessary in defense of liberty, engaging with libertarians can be profoundly good. (I have twice spoken at Students For Liberty events, where I’ve discussed the need for a moral and philosophic defense of liberty, and I’ll continue speaking to libertarians who are willing to consider such ideas.)” From “Libertarianism vs. Radical Capitalism” in the latest issue of TOS. The prior quotation from Yaron Brook strongly suggests that he agrees with Biddle. Contrast this with Peter Schwartz in “On Sanctioning the Sanctioners,” published in 1989: “Justice demands moral judgment. It demands that one objectively evaluate Libertarianism, and act in accordance with that evaluation. It demands that one identify Libertarianism as the antithesis of—and therefore as a clear threat to—not merely genuine liberty, but all rational values. And it demands that Libertarianism, like all such threats, be boycotted and condemned... "Thus, the “benefits” of speaking to Libertarian groups are as nonexistent as the “benefits” of exhibiting books at an Iranian fair. The Libertarian movement is not some innocuous debating club… Does this restrict the options open to Objectivist speakers? Certainly…” Of course, Peikoff endorsed Schwartz’s view in his own paper, “Fact and Value,” and proceeded to officially “expel” David Kelley from the Objectivist Movement for the heinous crime of speaking to a libertarian group. Biddle’s new article makes clear that libertarianism continues to embrace all of the bizarre, irrationalist nonsense condemned by Schwartz in 1989. To say that “official Objectivism” (so to speak) has not reversed its’ position on speaking to libertarian groups is clearly a misrepresentation of the truth and a rewriting of Objectivist history.
  12. That may be true. But Objectivists, in my opinion, are not being consistent with rational egoism if they join the TV commentators and sing the praises of the eager bystanders. Their admiration seems based on their utter disregard of potential danger. It is not heroic to recklessly disregard potential threats to your own life. True courage does not involve recklessness.
  13. According to this article, following a terrorist bombing, emergency crews are actually trained to wait to see if there is a secondary explosion before rushing in to help. I did not know that. The Urge to Help Is Overwhelming This much is obvious: You are not going to be able to help if you are also dead. Beyond that, I would compare "rushing to help" in such situations to running into a burning building to help total strangers. I consider risking your own life for the lives of strangers in this sort of reckless manner to be immoral. I would wait a few minutes to see if there was a secondary explosion. Then I would do all I could to help.
  14. Another aspect of the Boston bombings, which perhaps should be addressed in the Ethics section, is the extensive praise being given to those who ran to help the victims of the first explosion, despite the well-known terrorist tactic of detonating a second bomb aimed at killing first responders. Announcers on Fox News, and probably other networks as well, have spoken of those people running directly into harm’s way as deserving of tremendous admiration for their bravery. One announcer spoke of such heroes as reflecting the greatness of Americans and our unique, instinctive courage in the face of danger. I disagree. As much as I would want to help in any way I could, I would be very cautious about rushing toward the victims until I thought it was fairly safe to do so. I’m curious what other Objectivists have to say on that.
  15. This passage reflects Kira's inner conflicts and mixed feelings about Andrei. Rand makes clear that Kira does have strong feelings for Andrei despite the fact that he's a communist. As an indivldual, Andrei does have some heroic and admirable qualities, so sleeping with him was not totally repugnant for her. At the same time, any enjoyment she experienced in Andrei's bed would amount to a "sacrilege" because of her intense love for Leo. Her pleasure would be clouded by feelings comparable to the guilt of infidelity. She does not want to enjoy sex with Andrei--but Rand the novelist is also a woman, and she knows she could not help but enjoy it (and even desire it, to some extent). I think that, in some respects, We, The Living offers a more realistic depiction of such inner conflicts than Rand's later novels, which portrayed their central characters (with the exception of Hank Rearden) as mostly devoid of such conflicts.
  16. Since Kira was experiencing ecstasy--and since the man with the whip was described as tall and young--there may well be a sexual component to this passage. Remember that Rand described the character Kira as largely autobiographical. Note this quote from Ayn Rand, which I found quite fascinating: So when Rand liked to use the words dominance and submission to describe sex, she wasn't kidding around.
  17. I found this article very encouraging. If leftists are this worried about the pervasive influence of Ayn Rand, perhaps there is hope for the future, after all. I had no idea we had taken over the national debate. I only wish it were true. The election results last November clearly show that it is not true—but if we can scare the leftists into thinking we are winning, we must be doing something right.
  18. Feuerbach (the “religion of humanity”) and Hegel (“the State is the Divine Idea as it exists on earth”) had some suggestions for you, but you won’t find a lot of sympathy for their viewpoints around here. An Objectivist doesn’t recognize the need for any allegiance to a supreme consciousness or higher power other than his own brain.
  19. We seem to have a difference of opinion with respect to the meanings of the terms masculinity and femininity. One dictionary defines masculinity as “a set of qualities, characteristics or roles generally considered typical of, or appropriate to, a man.” Femininity would obviously be defined in terms of qualities, characteristics or roles generally considered typical of, or appropriate to, a woman. The problem is that, for those terms to have any validity at all, the defining qualities would need to be distinctive for a particular gender, and a quality like efficacy is obviously not distinctive for man since it is appropriate for both sexes. All human beings need to be efficacious. All human beings need to have self-confidence. All human beings need to have a capacity for self-assertiveness and aggressiveness, when necessary. If we define the terms with respect to traditional roles, the terms cease to be complimentary. You might as well say the person is a conventional man or woman. I don’t see how reproductive biology can lead us to psychological traits that are sexually distinctive. The only way I know how to make sense out of the terms is to define them from the perspective of man-woman relationships. In my view, the terms are not even applicable outside that context. This carries the unfortunate implication that the terms do not apply to someone who is gay. I do not know how to avoid that implication. However, if we keep in mind that the terms only have meaning in a strictly delimited context, I think we can avoid any negative or pejorative implications. Otherwise, I think we would just have to say that the terms have more than one meaning. We could use the terms masculine and feminine to simply designate a self-confident member of either sex, although, once again, the terms would lose any distinctive meaning. Or perhaps we could simply use the terms to refer to someone who enjoys and embraces his/her manhood or womanhood. Here is how Nathaniel Branden described masculinity and femininity in The Psychology of Self-Esteem: I very much like what Branden says here, but I am not sure he would stand by those words today. In his later book, The Psychology of Romantic Love, he had a very different take on this topic. He said simply that masculinity and femininity amounted to the expression of a man or woman’s belief that the creation of the opposite sex was the “best idea nature ever had.” He also spoke of the “biological forces deep within our organism that speak to us in a wordless language we have barely begun to decipher.” In other words, from Branden’s educated viewpoint, the science of psychology had not yet advanced to the stage where a clear understanding of these terms was possible. In this case, I much prefer the old Branden.
  20. During one of her appearances on the Phil Donahue Show, Ayn Rand refused to answer a question that was posed by a woman who said she had outgrown her teenage infatuation with Objectivism. Rand told the audience that someone else would have to ask the woman's question before she would answer it
  21. For some reason, that video isn't playing. It says that it is "currently unavailable." Here is a link to the youtube version: Maher Rips Ayn Rand (youtube) That’s senator Bernie Sanders (D, Vermont), a self-described socialist, laughing at the girlfriend comment. (I didn’t hear anyone else laughing.) One of Maher’s guests, Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal, is an admirer of Ayn Rand. I wonder if he made any comments in her defense. Shame on him if he didn't.
  22. I read the excerpts from Pawlik’s website, and she appears to be writing from an ortho Objectivist perspective, which means she feels the need to ignore the excellent work done by Nathaniel Branden in this area. Writing a book on ‘Objectivist sexuality’ while ignoring Branden’s book, The Psychology of Romantic Love, is just silly. It’s like theorizing about the nature of sense perception while ignoring Kelley’s brilliant work, The Evidence of the Senses. One obvious mistake Pawlik makes is to define masculinity in terms of “strength, efficacy, competence and ability.” Those are not distinctively masculine traits. They are admirable human virtues that apply to both men and women. Both femininity and masculinity should be strictly defined within a sexual context. Pawlik correctly defines femininity in terms of embracing and enjoying the feminine role in sex. Similarly, masculinity should be properly viewed in terms of a man’s enjoyment of the male function in sex—i.e., self-assertiveness in the role of the sexual partner who, by nature’s design, necessarily assumes a strong measure of control in bed. If the man isn’t interested, sex doesn’t happen, so what the man wants to do tends to take precedence. Pawlik’s emphasis on the man’s biological role as the partner who inseminates the woman gives far too much weight to the procreative aspects of sex. I think that amounts to definition by nonessentials. Pawlik, again writing from an ortho Objectivist perspective, adopts Ayn Rand’s viewpoint in saying that a truly feminine woman should be a “hero-worshipper.” I’m sure I don’t need to explain that a great many Objectivist women reject that premise. It is Rand's personal perspective and one that I have always found rather appealing, but it is anything but ‘scientific.’ In addition, I did not see any mention of the crucially important Visibility Principle anywhere in the outline for her book. This is the foundation for Branden’s theory on the nature of romantic love. It was also endorsed by Rand while they were co-editors of The Objectivist. Pawlik does have a chapter on the importance of shared values to enduring relationships (“Values, Not Views, Create Love”), so it’s possible that she does discuss that issue somewhere in her book. If she doesn’t, it is a glaring omission.
  23. On his HBO show "Real Time,' Bill Maher offered the following comments about Ayn Rand: I think this explains a lot about the level of Maher's intelligence. Evidently he is unable to read a book of any significant length without being distracted by his penis. You can read the entire diatribe here, if you have the stomach for it: Maher Rips Ayn Rand
  24. I submitted this comment to the PLAYBOY FORUM website two days ago, and they have apparently chosen not to publish it: Evidently the powers-that-be at Playboy don't care to publish any reminders that their editorial policy has not always been as fanatically leftist as it is today.
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