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    Adam Wise
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    Vanderbilt University
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    Sr. Software Engineer

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  1. Thanks for the responses. This was along the lines of what I had hoped to hear -- that it wasn't a rape at all. Dominique herself does not come to that conclusion, when she recounts the tale towards the end of the novell, and despite Rand's explanation, Roark did not at all seem interested in 'romance' at this stage of the novell. She specifically writes that he did it out of 'disdain', at the time, and later he was surprised that he still thought of her at all. Anyway, I'm glad to hear the responses so far are in this vein. Did anyone believe there was truly a rape involved?
  2. Here's a very basic question. I imagine everyone on this board has, in some way, found justification or explanation for Howard Roark's rape of Dominique. So I'm wondering what people on this board think.
  3. If one believes that Stadler hates mankind in general, then the distinction is very easy. In my original reading, I interpreted his actions differently. Having trouble dealing with people, especially scientific incompetence, or people who don't share his work ethic would be sufficient for him to utter the phrase "what can you do when you're dealing with people". In my first reading, it was not clear the extent to which it indicated general misanthrope. Similarly, when he doesn't stop development of the death ray, or the publication of anti-science drivel in his name, it is clearly a character flaw. A horriffic one, but I misjudged its nature on first reading to be more related to cowardice, than malice. Anyway, I'm done with Stadler and Roark comparisons. If Stadler genuinely hates mankind, he's certainly not comparable to Roark -- even if Roark destroys buildings, and rapes, etc.
  4. After considering this question at length, I believe there is basically one central idea that separates Stadler from Roark. Stadler wants what he hasn't earned. He wants respect and power and freedom for himself, but in a context where he gets this unconditionally, without effort. From this one central flaw, so many others follow. The passive acceptance of tyranny, the defence of death ray project, the implicit support of government control of Rearden Metal, etc. Stadler is a man of conflict, because at some level he does seem to understand the truth. He is disturbed and mentally torn by the anti-science drivel that is printed essentially under his name. Rearden even recognizes him as someone who had it right once, but had lost something over time. It was suggested that this line of thinking stems from epistemological separation of reason from reality. I think that's basically right, and gets to an even deeper level of Stadler's psyche -- it was stated just a little too abstractly for me to grasp the importance of it at first reading. It also makes more sense after reading discussions of Objectivist's refuting Kant on the same grounds. Anyway, I wanted to mention though, that I think some of the distinctions we would like to make about Stadler turn out to be weak if we compare them to Objectivist characters. For example, we would like to say that Stadler's main evil is in believing people are fundamentally 'bad' seem a little flacid. It's hard to make a sharp contrast between Stadler's disdain for people, and Roark's aloofness, for example.
  5. I am starting to appreciate the distinctions between Stadler and Roark, but let me press the point... Some people reduce objectivism to 'selfishness' + egotism. Stadler's blocking of Rearden Metal was both. And yes, Stadler looked down on industrialists as greedy dollar chasers, but remember Howard Roark lived very sparsely. Howard never compromised his singular purpose for money, even when he truly needed it. And if he thought of it, he might have similar disdain for an architect of similar talent to his own, who compromised his art for money. Roark certainly had no love for money, and no respect for people who compromised their work for money or acceptance. And Stadler's creation of the state science institute reflects an extroardinary egotism -- a singular belief in his own worth. Anyway, yes, I'm sort of playing devil's advocate here. A simplistic reading of Stadler and Roark makes them seem similar -- their differences are something important I want to fully digest, before I can be sure I 'grok' Objectivism.
  6. If we study the specifics of this distinction, it still seems to boil down to subtleties of political philosophy. I understand, for example, how Hank Rearden's brother is genuinely not working to support his life. Or how Jim Taggert coasts on his sister's abilities. But unless I missed something Stadler does work very hard. His particular work happens to be tweaking out the mysteries of the universe. But the argument that there is value in this isn't hard to make. Basic science understanding often has lead to products and discoveries that have benefited everyone, including private business. The basic knowledge uncovered arguably enriches lives by lending a more complete, intricate knowledge of how the universe works - at the very least this has, say, entertainment value of some kind. Some companies today do invest heavily in almost pure research. Microsoft for example, dabbles in some completely pure research, into physics and complexity theory, for example. Its somewhat rare, but it happens. I imagine at least some private donations to pure research are driven by the curiosity to know the answers of the pure research in themsevles, etc. etc. So it seems to come down to this - if Stadler were working for a private company that did research for private clients for reasons of curiosity or potential future distant profit, it would be hard to create a moral distinction between this and Roark's work. So if this truly is the only distinction - working for the government versus private work, then it does seem to be a matter of political philosophy -- beliefs about the appropriate role of government, the degree to which government programs are dictated by people's votes and pocketbooks, and the degree to which pure science lends itself to being measured as a value to the people who pay for it. Basically, all these questions come down to political philosophy, in my mind. (If Stadler were simply lazy in his position, and used politics to keep himself there, that would be very different, of course, but that was not my understanding when I read AS. The most I picked up was that he had perhaps grown a little tired of his work -- which is not objectivist-like, certainly, but not evil in itself, I would think.) Ayn Rand wants us to hate Stadler, I believe -- something about his death seemed designed to be his justice in AS. But given how similar he was to the protagonist of her previous novel, I felt much more sympathy at his death. Perhaps I missed some important detail about Stadler?
  7. One thing that bothered me in my first reading of Atlas Shrugged, was the degree to which Dr. Robert Stadler actually reminded me of Howard Roark. Both Stadler and Roark are single minded in pursuit of their passions -- the persuit of pure architecture, and the persuit of pure architecture. Money is of no concern to either of them. Both of them are willing to sacrifice or eschew nearly anything that would detract from the purity of their art. Their differences come down almost entirely to 'politics'. But neither of them is a politician, or a social scientist, or a philosopher, or an author. I would say that Stadler's lean toward collectivism, versus Roark's individualism come down to a slight difference in self-awareness of each's motive power. It seems to me that many of the decisions that Robert Stadler makes that turn out to be disasterous, are decisions Howard Roark may have made, if he were in a similar situation. For example, Stadler repeatedly ignores efforts unrelated to pure science, which leads to the eventual construction of the sonic death ray. Howard Roark consistently ignores efforts unrelated to purity in architecture, such as joining architectural organizations (or even being aware of them in one case). Both Roark and Stadler do everything in their power, to preserve the ability to follow their bliss in its purest form. In Stadler's case, this involves giving support to a government project he doesn't believe in, with obvious negative consequences. It always struck me that the main difference between Stadler and Roark really was a matter of political philosophy. And since neither of their 'work' was in any way related to policital philosophy, it seems interesting that this difference largely defines one as an ideal, and one as an embodiment of evil.
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