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mynameisyang
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I have noticed that Ayn Rand's approach to her philosophy was radically different from that of all other modern philosophers. Throughout my life, I always thought the subject "philosophy" was a confusing and incomprehensible hazy cloud. Perhaps that was how most people understood it according to modern wisdom. I made several attempts to guide my life with some kind of philosophical values in order to achieve some undefined, unearthly state of mind. Of course it failed, the philosophical ideal was too "high up in heaven" yet "I am just a hopeless human" bound to the earthly order. If the lofty ideal is forever beyond the comprehension of our mind, then one must justify his passion for such unachievable perfection by hating one's own existence and everyone else’s. This is like saying "I don't belong here." Since the heavenly ideal cannot be achieved in reality and reality is inescapable, one has to distinguish oneself from reality and those who love it by telling oneself "reality is unreal, A is not A." This is the foundation of religious faith.

It was invaluable for me to discover Ayn Rand's ideas: philosophy no longer seems to me to be a mysterious, unknowable deity. Her method of studying philosophy was the same as how we study science. Just like natural science, the logic of philosophy is also absolute and concrete; there is no room for ambiguity, relativism notwithstanding. The reason why most people think of philosophy in such mythical terms is because they do not understand it at the conceptual level, just like they lack the mathematical reasoning of science. Like Ayn Rand said in one of her lectures at West Point, everyone thinks and acts according to some philosophical principle, but most of them are not consciously aware that they are applying philosophical principles. This is analogous to natural science. Most people’s lives depend on scientific and technological

achievements: computers, cell phones, cars, and all those industrial, house-hold appliances, but how many of them know what’s going on behind the 2mm thick plastic enclosure, or what happens at the other end of the wire? Just as matter is real and absolute, so is the mind. In modern time, people believe that matter is objective and knowable, (this was demonstrated by natural science) but the mind is subjective and unknowable (this was demonstrated by modern philosophy). An

important part of Ayn Rand’s idea is that the mind is not subjective and unknowable; it behaves according to rules. We know that the behavior of matter can be summarized with formulas like F=ma, and the behavior of mind also has a set of formulas,

and those formulas are philosophy.

The misconceptions of philosophy come from two sources; the “street” regards philosophy as some unknowable “higher” state of mind. The academics understand philosophy as a system of thought, but promote relative standards as opposed to the methods of natural science and mathematics. The lesson I learned from college professors was that philosophy is important but no single school is superior to another; the hidden message is that I must treat all philosophy as equal. I personally

experienced this trend from all the educational institutions I attended. From high school, to community college, to university in Champaign, the professors of “humanities” classes attempted to give equal evaluation to different kinds of philosophical trends. In one of my art history classes at Champaign, there was detailed and positive coverage of classical

western art, but the course devoted an equal amount of time and effort to modern and so-called progressive art. I could write a significant and rational analysis on the beauty and order of classical western art for several pages, but for the so-called “avantgarde” “progressive” art, the only word to emerge from my head was “garbage”, and I could not understand the convoluted explanations in the second half of the book. I dropped the class because I could not understand the course material. During my world history class, the course material and professor had an excellent analysis of what and how

historical events occurred, but it regarded the achievements of western civilization with some kind of guilt, and feared to express their profoundly positive influence upon the world. A constant theme of the class was the “nonwestern” viewpoint, which is to judge the meaning of some historical events not based on a “western standard”. They typically applied the western method of analysis of how something happened but not in the evaluation of that particular event; Eurocentralism was the term given to anything that applies western value judgments on historical events, and was frequently used throughout the course. Of course they did not explicitly say anything against western civilization; it was a mysterious dark overtone whenever they spoke about the western influence, the enlightenment, and the industrial revolution, etc. The humanities classes were afraid to evaluate their subject based on absolute standards like true OR false; they liked to not explicitly but implicitly give you an impression that everything is true AND false, everything is a mixture of good and bad factors, everything deserves equal credit, and the nature of everything depends on your point of view. Viewpoint was the central element in all of my humanities classes; the subjects you learned from school varied depending on the variation of textbooks and professors or “better yet” a combination of both. I encountered several occasions where the instructor said he/she does not agree with some arguments from the textbook; thanks to Ayn Rand for telling me why this never happened with my science and math classes. Out of this chaotic mixture of “wonderful” viewpoints, we were excited because it felt like freedom, yet we were so confused, because they contradict each other, and chaos is not freedom.

“Check your premises”, is the kind of altitude with which scientists and engineers develop their theories. Theories in anything involving mathematical logic must not contradict each other, and this can only be achieved by not contradicting reality. Anything that is not rooted in reality will eventually breed alternative viewpoints and thus follows contradictions. Ayn Rand’s philosophy answered many questions I had no solution for my whole life; her ideas clearly resemble the irreducible simplicity of scientific principles. Abstract concepts developed based on the concrete, know facts of realty, which is the method we use to study nature, Ayn Rand uses the same method to study man. This has cleared the fog for the rest of my life.

Science, witchcraft, and religion, all originated from our desire to understand the universe we live in, but they are fundamentally distinguished by their philosophical understanding of realty. Witchcraft believes reality is knowable because human thought can change the nature of reality to whatever man pleases, while religion believes human thought cannot change the nature of reality because reality is unknowable, that only god can change reality to what ever it pleases. So, in

witchcraft, you tell nature to change itself, while in religion you tell someone else to change nature for you. Only in science do you teach yourself how to change nature with your effort, not your wishes. It treats reality as what it is: knowable, intelligible and existing independent of consciousness. In the early days of human history, all three schools of man’s position in nature had the same level of understanding about nature and about man, but look at them today: those two who turned their face away from reality had long abandoned their positions in the field of logical reasoning and must thrive upon “feeling”. It is the fact that they are powerless when facing reality; they can only survive by manipulating man’s mind in order to create an illusion of power. They retreated from the field of consciousness into the field of

unconsciousness, because conscious minds began to be dominated by the rational and real. This is a fact, because today, they are no longer motivated by the desire to understand our universe, and history has proven that they are incompetent to deal with such a goal. What motivates them today is the desire to prevent man from understanding the universe, to hide their incompetence to deal with reality at the cost of the destruction of man is mind, “if this is not evil, then evil has no meaning” – here is my 2 cents to the one who said that.

The blast of the hydrogen bomb can serve as a good reminder of the power of science, and most people agree with that, while few understand that the power of science came from philosophy. It was philosophy that motivated people to discover nuclear fusion, and it will be philosophy once again to decide to convert this knowledge into electricity or thermal bursts.

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