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Review of The Siren of Selfishness

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Cass Sunstein's reviews The Siren of Selfishness in The New York Review of Books. I read what is visible to non-subscribers. I am not tempted to subscribe to read the rest. The review ends with: "It wasn’t as though I detected a logical flaw in Rand’s writing and decided to embrace altruism, or that I began to like the New Deal and the welfare state. It was more visceral than that. Reading and thinking about Rand’s novels felt like being trapped in…"

Is that entrapment? It's at least clever marketing.

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I find that anyone who would say something like "Rand is contemptuous toward most of humanity" is probably someone who feels personally attacked in some way. Either that, or their memory has been altered by time.

Anyway, the book he is reviewing, it isn't any good. Look at this interview. The problem isn't her typical anticapitalist narrative, it's that when she does talk about Rand, she gets basic facts wrong. I mean, she says that all of Rand's heroes are "tall, thin, blonde, Aryan types" even though Dagny isn't even blonde, and Francisco is Hispanic. " 'Individualists of the world unite' was her slogan", that's where it gets really stupid. It's at about 24 minutes.



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31 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Anyway, the book he is reviewing, it isn't any good.

I haven't read the book, but suspect it is trash based on brief descriptions of it that I have seen and the video you posted interviewing the author. At about 3 minutes, she uses the phrase "no intellectual depth." That aptly describes Duggan herself.

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I don’t have a subscription to that division of NYT, but from that part of the review I can see, it looks like one of the most genuine and knowledgeable representation and reaction to Rand’s two major novels I’ve ever seen in a major magazine or newspaper. When he talks about not finding a logical flaw, that is just from the modern, too-narrow conception of logic. Atlas is of two minds about humanity (my take). At times it is benevolence, good will, and well-wishing for humanity in general. At other times, it divides humanity in the ways the review indicates, and the larger of the divisions are the defectives. The dark view is not in fact essential to the philosophy and is terribly off-putting to the new explorer of Rand’s literature and philosophy.

The dark view is still being perpetuated in presentations of Rand’s philosophy to the general public by folks on Rand’s team, as in the division proclaimed by attachment of certain humanity-division claptrap to a real-life and wonderful story easily connectible in more durable ways to Rand’s philosophy. This was a presentation from the Atlas Society.

I do appreciate the story, but I object to the puffing up of ourselves into 'greatness' for our competences, creativeness, persistence, and industriousness. The fictional characters Galt and Rearden are beyond those four things they have in common with us; they are great (were they actual, anyway). Einstein and Jobs were great. We are not flawed in moral character or worth or loveliness of actualized abilities because we are not great. Then too, it is not the case that the fundamental alternative is mediocrity. We needn't be either, nor some mere mix of the two. (And of course, contrary the insinuation of the script, laziness, envy, and mouching need not be character of those who are not great.) The terms 'greatness' and 'mediocrity' can be dropped without loss to what we really mean, which is a squarely decent thing and not so uncommon in our fellows reading our message.

Edited by Boydstun
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