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RichyRich
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Rand said her only debt was to Aristotle. She clearly was indebted to many people above all Nietzsche. Her Nietzschean influence is crystal clear throughout her novels and especially in her early works. To specifically not acknowledge this anywhere is arrogant to the extreme and really pisses me off. I think most people who aren't Objectivists would agree with me, but my question is do Objectivists think she was arrogant for not acknowledging her intellectual debts? And if so why doesn't this bother you enough to reject her and her philosophy?

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Rand said her only debt was to Aristotle. She clearly was indebted to many people above all Nietzsche. Her Nietzschean influence is crystal clear throughout her novels and especially in her early works. To specifically not acknowledge this anywhere is arrogant to the extreme and really pisses me off. I think most people who aren't Objectivists would agree with me, but my question is do Objectivists think she was arrogant for not acknowledging her intellectual debts? And if so why doesn't this bother you enough to reject her and her philosophy?

Hello Richy Rich.

She might have said that she owes her philosophy specifically to Aristotle, because tracing back to the History of Western Thought, it was Aristotle who first enunciated the principles Ayn Rand ellaborated on and remind us of. So if her philosophy, could be identified with one mind other and previous than Rand's, then it is Aristotle.

You are right that Ayn Rand was influenced by Nietzsche as well as by many other great thinkers, among them, Emmanuel Kant. In fact both authors embody the two opposites to Objectivism, what's been called Altruism and Cynical Egoism, Attila and the Witch Doctor, the Warlord and the Priest..... Gail Wynand and Ellsworth Toohey. And this is why you are partially right in your "outrage": Gail Wynand is portrayed as a potentially redeemable anti-hero in The Fountainhead while Toohey, utter empty evil. Our Hero chats amicably with Wynand, goes on a cruise with him, and "forgets" to tell him that he's one of the worst kind of types: the man that seeks power for power itseld. On the other hand our hero doesn't even think of Toohey. This comback is roughly based in a real-life episode of Ayn Rand's real life hero: his husband Frank.

So, while Objectivism doesn't have to recognize Nietzsche as an intellectual creditor more than Kant; you are actually bringing up a point that has interested me for a while.

However don't go with accusations of "arrogance" when the author herself used that term, and "scornful smile" several times, it's a given in Ayn Rand's fiction, but a matter of sytle or rather of pure aesthethics from her femenine point of view. She admired the man that wouldn't bend.

Regarding Ayn Rand acknowledging Nietzsche's influence, she did, and explicitly (I'm sure someone will back me up here with a reference) rejected the concept of sacrifying a "lesser" being.

One must remember that Nietzsche was one of the most influential non socialist Atheists of the late XIXc. How could it not be an influence?

But, back to the point I rescued: Why did Ayn Rand granted Attila a tiny little bit more benefit of the doubt than the Witch Doctor?

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She clearly was indebted to many people above all Nietzsche. Do Objectivists think she was arrogant for not acknowledging her intellectual debts? And if so why doesn't this bother you enough to reject her and her philosophy?

To add:

Indebted to Nietzsche - nonsense. A contribution to her understanding - ok.

To suggest Objectivists could possibly reject her philosophy over such a point - even if it was "arrogant" - is absurd. And I suggest that if you were truly an Objectivist, then you would not ask that question.

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Gail Wynand is portrayed as a potentially redeemable anti-hero in The Fountainhead while Toohey, utter empty evil. Our Hero chats amicably with Wynand, goes on a cruise with him, and "forgets" to tell him that he's one of the worst kind of types: the man that seeks power for power itseld. On the other hand our hero doesn't even think of Toohey. This comback is roughly based in a real-life episode of Ayn Rand's real life hero: his husband Frank.

...

But, back to the point I rescued: Why did Ayn Rand granted Attila a tiny little bit more benefit of the doubt than the Witch Doctor?

Wynand did not seek power for power itself, demonstrated by Wynand's attempt to use his power for an ultimate end that was better when he tried to defend Roark with his newspaper. The two patterns of second-handedness Ayn Rand illustrates are direct second-handedness which is done as an end in itself, and the indirect second-handedness which uses people as means to a higher end, maybe even a legitimate end. Both forms are wrong, but in Wynand's case the contradiction between means and end is internal and becomes a tragic flaw leading to his own downfall.

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Rand said her only debt was to Aristotle. She clearly was indebted to many people above all Nietzsche. Her Nietzschean influence is crystal clear throughout her novels and especially in her early works. To specifically not acknowledge this anywhere is arrogant to the extreme and really pisses me off. I think most people who aren't Objectivists would agree with me, but my question is do Objectivists think she was arrogant for not acknowledging her intellectual debts? And if so why doesn't this bother you enough to reject her and her philosophy?

Nietzschean influence in her fiction is one thing, and a philosophical debt to Nietzsche is quite another. She did have some particularly Nietzschean-influenced passages in her first novel, We The Living, that she struck from later editions of the novel. While I probably wouldn't have done that, I can understand an author that, when a character is clearly supposed to be speaking for the author and says things the author no longer agrees with, changes those statements. In any case, if you actually learn something about the philosophies of Aristotle, Nietzsche, and Rand, you can clearly see that in terms of philosophy (not fiction or inspiration) Nietzsche's distinct ideas are quite absent from Rand's mature philosophy. Notice she did not say inspirational debt or literature debt (or just debt), but rather philosophical debt. She spoke very precisely as a point of pride, so I'd take that extra adjective seriously.

In any case, none of this has any bearing whatsoever on the truth of her philosophy. I most definitely believe that she was not a perfect person (even though I may disagree with you on this point), but I do accept her philosophy as true nonetheless. To reject it on grounds of her personal character flaws is known as the ad hominem fallacy in logical reasoning.

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You are right that Ayn Rand was influenced by Nietzsche as well as by many other great thinkers, among them, Emmanuel Kant. In fact both authors embody the two opposites to Objectivism, what's been called Altruism and Cynical Egoism, Attila and the Witch Doctor, the Warlord and the Priest..... Gail Wynand and Ellsworth Toohey. And this is why you are partially right in your "outrage": Gail Wynand is portrayed as a potentially redeemable anti-hero in The Fountainhead while Toohey, utter empty evil. Our Hero chats amicably with Wynand, goes on a cruise with him, and "forgets" to tell him that he's one of the worst kind of types: the man that seeks power for power itseld. On the other hand our hero doesn't even think of Toohey.

I completely agree with you on this. Rand definitely had more sympathy with the right wing in every area, from her fictional philosophical abstractions, to her friendships with right wing intellectuals. Her whole being is a rage against the left. She even manages to be an atheist in a religious kind of way.

Here is her quote that I find outrageous:

"The only philosophical debt I can acknowledge is to Aristotle. I most emphatically disagree with a great many parts of his philosophy--but his definition of the laws of logic and of the means of human knowledge is so great an achievement that his errors are irrelevant by comparison."

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I completely agree with you on this. Rand definitely had more sympathy with the right wing in every area, from her fictional philosophical abstractions, to her friendships with right wing intellectuals. Her whole being is a rage against the left. She even manages to be an atheist in a religious kind of way.

She had more contempt for the Right than you seem to realize because of the corruption of the Right from what it should have been into what it is today - Liberal Lite for Companies.

Here is her quote that I find outrageous:

What's outrageous about it? Why do you think so? Do you think the laws of Logic AREN'T immeasurably valuable?

Edited by Greebo
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Richy:

Please this goes beyond Right and Left, is more about Right and Wrong. In that sense she did lean to the Right.

Historical context please! She grew up in a Monarchy in the process of reforming and the Communists destroyed that process, destroyed the Aristocracy (in the horrible mass of poverty of Russia with little to no burgoisie, the Aristocrats, like Leo Kovalensky, were the few Individuals), and destroyed the human spirit in their way. I recall the first pages of We the Living, she describes the White Soldiers (the Monarchists) as not knowing the gigantic importance of what they were fighting for.

When she migrated to America she found that the ideas of the late XIXc PRogressives had sunk in perfectly and men were meek, soon broke, and ready for the Reds.

When WWII was over she saw her adopted country mirroring America's new enemy with collectivist and statist policies - on the hands on Republicans. That was the time she made that famous warning about leaning to the Right politically.

Wynand did not seek power for power itself, demonstrated by Wynand's attempt to use his power for an ultimate end that was better when he tried to defend Roark with his newspaper. The two patterns of second-handedness Ayn Rand illustrates are direct second-handedness which is done as an end in itself, and the indirect second-handedness which uses people as means to a higher end, maybe even a legitimate end. Both forms are wrong, but in Wynand's case the contradiction between means and end is internal and becomes a tragic flaw leading to his own downfall.

As always, thanks for the exquisitely sublte clarification. However, that "mean to a higher end" is what I meant by Wynand's redeemable quality. Still evil, but not the void evil Toohey is.

She rationally rejected both evils. She rationally explained why.

However, and I propose this is not a contradiction, she was more lenient with one of those evils, specially if not only, regarding the personality of men. Maybe both in real life, but at least in her fiction works.

Back to Nietzsche, because it is always so much fun to write five consonants on a row, he didn't invent the concept of Heroism, and was denounced by Rand explicitly in some of her non fiction works. Capitalism comes to mind.

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Her whole being is a rage against the left. She even manages to be an atheist in a religious kind of way.

It's great that you digest content with a grain of salt and see the obvious that everybody has a hard time to back up with a logical argument (see Sciabarra maybe). However, again, Ayn Rand made explicit that "religiousness". She was not a materialist, she was not a cynic, she actually believed in the spirit and its worth. The fact that she logically identified this spirit with aspects of the mind, a natural thing enabled by a physical brain and its interaction with the rest of Reality, instead of identifying it with a supernatural thing, is one of her greatest contributions - at least to my personal development.

The fact that Right Wingers were more tolerant, "open minded" or as she would have prefered, "critical minded" to different ideas than Left Wingers is only a testimony of the Fundamentalism and outright Religiousness of Left Wingers, Socialists, and ultimately the literally religious Marxists of her time.

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The fact that she logically identified this spirit with aspects of the mind, a natural thing enabled by a physical brain and its interaction with the rest of Reality, instead of identifying it with a supernatural thing, is one of her greatest contributions - at least to my personal development.

If you want to read an inspiring atheist who emphasises the minds role in spirituality, read Lucretius who wrote his poems just before the birth of Christ. There was an original thinker. As a philosophy student, Rand would have been aware of him. So I doubt that Rand's "contribution" is original.

The fact that Right Wingers were more tolerant, "open minded" or as she would have preferred, "critical minded" to different ideas than Left Wingers is only a testimony of the Fundamentalism and outright Religiousness of Left Wingers, Socialists, and ultimately the literally religious Marxists of her time.

I agree that faith can be dominant on both the right and the left, but I wouldn't say either had a monopoly on rational thinking. Rand however, clearly favoured the right more than the left, and they return the favour even today (for example many in the tea party idolise her). No one on the left would idolise Rand. I don't think its controversial that Ayn Rand is on the right wing in the same way that I don't think its controversial to say that the Cato Institute is on the right wing. Yes they may not be fundy-faithheads but the right wing is a big tent and Rand clearly sheltered in it.

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I don't think its controversial that Ayn Rand is on the right wing in the same way that I don't think its controversial to say that the Cato Institute is on the right wing. Yes they may not be fundy-faithheads but the right wing is a big tent and Rand clearly sheltered in it.

Thanks for the recommendation.

Ayn Rand was not a Right Winger more than she was a Futurist. If you read her non fiction you'll find the passion in which she attacks the Right Wing Tent. If you re-read her fiction you'll find her passion against tents, bags, packages and the collective.

She was smart enough to enunciate an understandable philosophy, with basic tenets that many "Free Thinkers" identify with. Since her books are understandable and challenging, they became hugely popular and you can find just about anybody reading her books from "left urbanites" to the tea partiers you mention.

People from "both" (as if) backgrounds have to make one leap or another out of it to integrate Objectivism.

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Here is her quote that I find outrageous:

Now compare with your statement:

Rand said her only debt was to Aristotle.

You begin your entire argument by changing what she said and then holding her to your version of what she said.

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Rand defined herself as a radical for Capitalism (radical in the sense of being fundamentally for Cap.).

Thus everything should be measured by how it supports freedom and individual rights.

Thus, it is meaningless to talk about being Right or Left: neither political extreme comes close to Objectivism.

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I don't think its controversial that Ayn Rand is on the right wing in the same way that I don't think its controversial to say that the Cato Institute is on the right wing. Yes they may not be fundy-faithheads but the right wing is a big tent and Rand clearly sheltered in it.

Yes, a lot of people think that about Rand. In that regards, its not controversial.

Some time ago, it also wouldn't have been controversial to say the world was flat.

Doesn't make it TRUE - just makes it something people think is true.

I suggest you spend more time reading Rand and focusing on the comprehensive meaning of her writings - and you'll see that when Rand's real philosophy is posed to the Right they react JUST as reflexively against it as those on the Left.

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I suggest you spend more time reading Rand and focusing on the comprehensive meaning of her writings - and you'll see that when Rand's real philosophy is posed to the Right they react JUST as reflexively against it as those on the Left.

An example; Glenn Beck, the darling of the right, LOVES Rand. Obviously he doesn't agree with her atheism and such things but he manages to look past that because essentially he is cut from the same cloth.

There is no-one on the left who admires her since the left and Rand are completely alien. The closest I can think of is Christopher Hitchens and he doesn't so much as admire her, as mockingly acknowledge her existence.

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...Glenn Beck,... manages to look past [Rand's Atheism] because essentially he is cut from the same cloth.
That moron pretends to follow logic, as long as it leads to the conclusions he likes. To say he is "cut from the same cloth" is simply false, because that implies that he is fundamentally similar to Rand, but just has a few different conclusions,. Actually, to understand an intellectual's fundamental approach one has to go one layer beneath their political conclusions and look at their epistemology and their ethics. In epistemology, he is the opposite of Rand. In essence, to him, right and wrong are just obvious (an "intrinsic" view of knowledge). One side-effect of this is that he sees an ally in anyone who hold a conclusion similar to his, even if their reasoning would be totally alien to him.

There is no-one on the left who admires her since the left and Rand are completely alien. The closest I can think of is Christopher Hitchens and he doesn't so much as admire her, as mockingly acknowledge her existence.
Unlike Beck, the left hate Rand's conclusions.

Politically, to the extent that the right cannot impose its religion by force, it would seem like a better ally. However, experience has shown that there is a broader downside: when these GOP intrinsicists pretend to open up the economy, they often do so in ways that fall flat and then Capitalism takes the blame.

Edited by softwareNerd
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An example; Glenn Beck, the darling of the right, LOVES Rand. Obviously he doesn't agree with her atheism and such things but he manages to look past that because essentially he is cut from the same cloth.

No, see, that's where you're wrong.

Beck understands Rand no more than Hitchens.

Rand Paul and Ron Paul are much closer to Rand than Beck will ever be.

There is no-one on the left who admires her since the left and Rand are completely alien. The closest I can think of is Christopher Hitchens and he doesn't so much as admire her, as mockingly acknowledge her existence.

Really?

You know Rand was pro-choice and supported gay rights (reluctantly - she found homosexuality personally disgusting)?

That sound like a Beck position to you?

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Unlike Beck, the left hate Rand's conclusions.

No, the left like and dislike some of Rand's conclusions just as the right like and dislike some of Rand's conclusions. For example the left like her support for abortion rights or her atheism. Yet they still don't admire her. But the right look past their perception of her failings and admire her anyway.

Really?

You know Rand was pro-choice and supported gay rights (reluctantly - she found homosexuality personally disgusting)?

That sound like a Beck position to you?

Er, I'm not sure what your point is here. I stand by my statement that the left and Rand are alien, yet the right and Rand are close cousins.

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... Rand are close cousins.
It is impossible to argue against a metaphor, because it can mean a variety of things. To say Rand and the right are cousins is to make a somewhat Nietzschean poetic argument that each can react to from his own sense of life, since there is little precision in the words.
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It is impossible to argue against a metaphor, because it can mean a variety of things. To say Rand and the right are cousins is to make a somewhat Nietzschean poetic argument that each can react to from his own sense of life, since there is little precision in the words.

Close cousins, ie in the same way that the Cato Institute and the right are close cousins, so is Rand and the right.

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An example; Glenn Beck, the darling of the right, LOVES Rand. Obviously he doesn't agree with her atheism and such things but he manages to look past that because essentially he is cut from the same cloth.

Isn't it convenient to use her when it suits him. Beck's philosophy is very different from Rand's.

As you must know, you can't be religious with an altruist morality and also be a Capitalist.

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why doesn't this bother you enough to reject her and her philosophy?

Because, contrary to Official Opinion, the only valid way to reject a philosopher's ideas is to deal with them on their correspondence with reality, not by calling the philosopher arrogant, mean, a Really Bad Person, or by insinuating guilt by association because some talk show host with a different ideology promoted the philosopher's book, or by claiming the philosopher is a "cousin" of some thing called "the right," which in the philosopher's own words (and indeed a conceptual analysis, which the philosopher justifies her own conclusion with, concludes), "I am diametrically opposed to."

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