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Reblogged:Friday Hodgepodge

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Blog Roundup

1. Most educated people know that Ayn Rand advocated capitalism. (Whether they know what capitalism is is another question altogether.) And many even know that Rand advocated selfishness -- also commonly misunderstood. But what about pride? I doubt it, and I'd bet even fewer people know what it actually is than know what capitalism or egoism really are.

This thought occurred to me when I read the post "Humility vs. Pride" at the blog of the Texas Institute for Property Rights, which explores why that virtue has an undeserved bad name:
In other words, the proud person trusts the judgment of his own mind rather than the arbitrary edicts of God or His earthly spokesmen. And trusting one's own mind, we are to believe, is a bad thing.
The above is a re-framing of a religious explanation for the animus against pride, and kicks off a good, short outline of what is wrong with that all-too-common attitude.

2. In her discussion of political opposition to Black Friday in France, business professor Jaana Woicheshyn points out a timely book on the subject of green totalitarianism, and a review of same:
Green totalitarianism is not just a vague threat -- it is steadily encroaching, as Belgian philosopher Drieu Godefridi argues in his new book: The Green Reich: Global Warming to the Green Tyranny. You can read Donna Laframboise's review of it here. She reports that in Godefridi's view, environmentalism is more "ambitious in its desire to subdue" humanity "than any previous doctrine," including Marxism. [links in original, format edits]
Woicheshyn's further remarks on the folly of corporate appeasement of the greens are also worth your time.

3. At Thinking Directions Jean Moroney has some interesting and useful things to say about some common mystical explanations for subconscious phenomena. Here is a relevant quote regarding the "power of prayer," which many people swear by:
What is happening is similar to what happens when you think on paper. When you quiet yourself -- separate yourself from distractions, breathe, let the hurly burly recede for a bit -- you give yourself some free mental space and time to listen to the quiet answers in the back of your mind. Your own quiet answers reflect everything you know about the situation -- your own experience and expertise, your own knowledge of the nitty gritty details, and your own value system. It is no wonder that this self-generated idea is often better advice than you can get from others, who don't understand the situation the way you do.
When I was young and still giving religion the benefit of the doubt, I prayed every evening. The ritualism of the prayers themselves aside, the thinking I did at the same time was quite similar to what Moroney describes.

I agree completely with her further remark that it is valuable to try to understand what is (or might be) going on, rather than stop at pat explanations:
When I read about some popular advice which is justified by a theory I disagree with, I don't immediately assume that the advice is impractical. I go to look at what's involved, how I would explain the process, and why I think it might or might not work. If I think there's a plausible alternate explanation for why so many people find benefit, I experiment with it to see for myself. That is how I have broadened my understanding of how the mind works.
Amen, so to speak.

4. Scott Holleran has written what sounds like a fascinating article about Pittsburgh, which is also his home town:
Pittsburgh.jpg
Image by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen, via Unsplash, license.
In the piece, which may become available online, I focus on the Forties, when Rand wrote her observations of Pittsburgh in her journal, corresponded with an admiring book critic for a Pittsburgh newspaper and prepared for the movie adaptation of her 1943 novel The Fountainhead. All of these tie into each other and relate to an interesting comment by Objectivist scholar Greg Salmieri, whom I interviewed for the article. Dr. Salmieri, who's editing the University of Pittsburgh Press series of books studying Rand's philosophy, gives his opinions on Rand's ideas and how they've been interpreted within the context of today's false left-right political dichotomy.

I am delighted that publication of the first article about Rand and my hometown coincides with the first reprinting of my article about Andrew Carnegie in Capitalism Magazine (read it here). Carnegie is one of my first heroes. I became fascinated with him as a boy. As with Ayn Rand, the more I learn and know about this man, the more I admire him. I wrote this piece several years ago as a sidebar to an article I'd been asked to write for a magazine. [link in original, format edits]
Here's the last paragraph of the piece on Andrew Carnegie:
That the 'Great Egoist', who attached significance to names and put his name on colleges, halls and steel companies, loved his work and lived his life in comfort is abundantly clear. That he did so by making an effort to think, write, and speak as an intellectual businessman is not as widely known. But, today, we are the secondary beneficiaries -- in railroads, bridges, and things made of steel -- in Western Union, Madison Square Garden, and Carnegie Mellon University, which he created or helped to build -- in places like public libraries, and Carnegie Hall -- of all that Andrew Carnegie thought, wrote, and produced.
Here's hoping that the newer piece also becomes available online.

-- CAV

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Another Rand-Pittsburgh link is Fallingwater, some 60 miles away, clearly enough her source for the Wynand country house. It was originally a weekend place for Edgar Kaufmann, a department store president, and his family.

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