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Eddie Willers

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It's been at least a year since I've read Atlas Shrugged, so maybe I'm remembering it wrong. I do think, however, that I got the same impression of Eddie each time I read it.

Eddie seemed to be a bit lacking in self-esteem and drive. That which he did have, seem to be siphoned from Dagny. I don’t mean to imply that he was leaching off her. Merely… inspired by her, if you will.

He was perfectly capable of running the railroad himself, but why hadn’t he until Dagny handed it to him? Lack of passion?

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It didn't need to be restated that you said try to be the best.

You must understand that there is more than one definition for the term best. There is one’s best, as in their maximum effort and there is the best, someone or thing that excels all others. I was simply saying that in order for me to give my best effort I must attempt to be the best (i.e. excel all others) anything else on my part is not my best effort.

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You must understand that there is more than one definition for the term best.  There is one’s best, as in their maximum effort and there is the best, someone or thing that excels all others.  I was simply saying that in order for me to give my best effort I must attempt to be the best (i.e. excel all others) anything else on my part is not my best effort.

Ah.

For me to do my best however, I concentrate on myself and try to improve all the time. There's nothing i can do about how good someone else is.

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There's nothing i can do about how good someone else is

Which is why I use the words TRY and ATTEMPT when talking about reaching a goal of being the best. I could care less if someone is better than me, in fact I’d applaud them if they are.

Everyone tries to improve, if they didn’t they would be incapable of walking, speaking, writing, typing, learning in general, etc. Like I said before, it’s the effort and goal that separate the Gaults from the Eddies.

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Everyone tries to improve, if they didn’t they would be incapable of walking, speaking, writing, typing, learning in general, etc.  Like I said before, it’s the effort and goal that separate the Gaults from the Eddies.

You don't work beside me obviously and haven't met Sean McGoff (who has looked at every page of Atlas and The Fountainhead and not taken in a single word) where I work or you wouldn't say that.

And you haven't met my Dad either.

Neither of these people try to improve.

If you were to meet the average Scottish NED (non-educated delinquent) you also wouldn't say that. Some people's capacity for evasion and stagnation is breathtaking.

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You don't work beside me obviously and haven't met Sean McGoff (who has looked at every page of Atlas and The Fountainhead and not taken in a single word) where I work or you wouldn't say that.

I would and am. I have worked with my fair share of unmotivated individuals whose goals are often to find ways of doing as little as possible and not getting caught rather than finding ways to be more productive. These individuals are improving toward their goal, it is just a terrible goal. Goal and effort make the difference.

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I would be interested in seeing Ms. Rand's notes on Eddie. His character seems to be somewhat inegmatic to a lot of people. I know what I think, but I'd be interested to know if I actually get what she meant.

The only thing I remember her saying specifically about his character was in a discussion about who represented the most common type of man. Most people thought it was Eddie, but she said that it was Dr. Stadler. Stadler was common in his assiduous evasion of the truth.

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I would and am.  I have worked with my fair share of unmotivated individuals whose goals are often to find ways of doing as little as possible and not getting caught rather than finding ways to be more productive.  These individuals are improving toward their goal, it is just a terrible goal.  Goal and effort make the difference.

Sean works hard enough but he does as he is told by his boss on the shop floor.

His church tells him what to think and his socialist political beliefs, if realised, mean that the state tells him what to do full stop.

He can be guaranteed to spew out the first load of rubbish that comes into his head without thinking.

You have to start shifting goalposts and definitions something chronic to call this guy improving.

As for Stadler, I believe he is common in principle if not in degree. How many people do you know talk out focus without considering what their stated beliefs would actually mean in practice?

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I don't think what Eddie had was borrowed. His only vice was on a deeply personal level: he evaded the fact that he was in love with Dagny. As a consequence, he never moved past his childhood relationship with her. When faced with the fact that she had fallen in love, he was stunned, not by her behaviour, but by his own evasion. His end was due to that fact alone.

I think Eddie's reaction is a variation of Rearden's. Rearden finally understood his mistakes, and why he ultimately lost Dagny, and he had the strength to grow beyond his mistake. (Though, thinking about it, Rearden's mistake was to grant another's premise without question. Is that a kind of evasion?) It crushed Eddie.

Eddie wasn't a prime mover, but very few people are. He did what he was hired to do both expertly and efficiently -- or else Dangy would never have kept him on, no matter how she felt about him personally. His relationship to Dangy might be compared with Rearden's with his secretary. It was more, however, because of the childhood relationship.

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Eddie was no doubt good at his job, but his self-esteem was borrowed from Taggart Transcontinental. Note his obsession with the railroad from the time he was a child, and his unwillingness to give it up. He was willing to go down with the railroad because he saw his life as nothing without it. Some would argue that Dagny had the same problem, only she fixed it. This, however, is not the case. Dagny was simply unwilling to accept that the railroad (and the world) was going down. Eddie knew the railroad was gone, and was not willing to live without it.

What you said about Eddie's love for Dagny was true, but it was not "his only vice."

And he didn't have to be a prime mover to go to the valley, he merely had to be good, and then he had to be willing to give up the railroad. He did not meet the second criteria.

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aren't you forgetting Peter Keating? There are those who have no goals of their own

Oh Keating had a goal, it was to receive the approval of everyone around him. He thought that was the best way to live his life, he later came to realize this was not such a good idea. The goal is there its just an awful, collectivist goal.

It sounds to me like this Sean guy is more like Keating rather than what I speculated in an earlier post.

I don't think what Eddie had was borrow either. I think he was found of Dagny because he shared her work ethic, but for whatever reason his goals never matched hers (self-estem issue). She was always at a higher level. I think this is why he evaded his love for her, he felt unworthy.

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Oh Keating had a goal, it was to receive the approval of everyone around him. He thought that was the best way to live his life, he later came to realize this was not such a good idea. The goal is there its just an awful, collectivist goal.

His goal was not to seek approval... that was his method. His goal, if you can call it that, was to evade goals.

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No, his method was doing what others told or wanted him to in order to obtain their approval, his goal. However you are right in some respect, by accepting such a selfless goal, searching only the approval of others rather than his own, he is rejecting any positive selfish aspirations he once had. The evasion of his selfish positive goals was the repercussions, but he still had a conscious goal, the approval of others, fame.

Goal: the end toward which effort is directed (italics mine)

http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book...tionary&va=goal

It takes no effort to evade one’s goal, so it therefore cannot be a goal in itself. On the other hand, the approval of others can take effort, although not much, and is therefore a goal.

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After further consideration I have decided that Keating was in fact intentionally trying to evade himself. This is the nature of a selfless goal, the evasion of the self. So to say he was evading his goals is an accurate statement. Here is an honest question, by accepting the goals of others as his own does that not make them his goals? It is his choice whether or not to agree with them. What am I missing?

I would also like to clarify that my true goal is not the be the best, but to live a great life, trying to be the best at something is only a way for me to achieve the most that I can.

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I don't think there was anything wrong with Eddie "being obsessed" with the railroad from childhood. So was Dagny. In the novel, Ms. Rand makes the point that Eddie's family had worked for the Taggarts for several generations and she said that they were like the old family retainers of the old world aristocracy. She follows this by several statements that America's aristocracy was based on merit, not mere accidents of birth. The Taggart board played to the old conception of aristocracy when they voted in Jim as president "because there's always been" a Taggart son to take over the company. Regardless of Eddie's family, if he were incompetent, or if he worked for TT simply because he felt he had a right to a job (a la Reardon's dispicable brother) based on his family's history, he never would have worked for Dagny.

He genuinely loved the railroad and loved working for it aside from his feelings toward Dagny. Consider the scene when he officially opened the John Galt Line. He refused to play the media game of cutting the ribbon over and over for the cameras. He was too proud of the accomplished line to have anything be fake about it and only cut the ribbon once. No hanger-on would have even thought of such a thing.

His evasion was personal, not professional, and his love for, and loyalty to, the railroad was over and above his love for Dagny.

Eddie's character also points up the different reactions to Dagny and Francisco of Eddie and Jim. Jim resented and hated them both because they were better than he was; Eddie respected and loved them both *because* of their accomplishments. We see Jims all over the place today, and way too few Eddies.

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No one is saying that Eddie was incompetent. He did his job well and was perfectly capable of running the railroad himself, when the need showed itself. However, even when it became clear the railroad was gone and that the world couldn't be saved, he could not give it up. Yes, Dagny was also obsessed with the railroad, but look at the differences. Eddie's obsession was one of awe for the great things that men had made, Dagny's was one of self-worth. This is not to say that Eddie was worthless, just that his self-esteem sprouted from the railroad (i.e. the creations of other men).

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Your differentiation between Dagny's obsession and Eddie's is well said. Wish I'd thought of it!

I know that no one was saying that Eddie was incompetent (at least I don't remember that being a point of contention). I was just listing his virtues. I haven't reread the previous posts, however, so it is entirely possible that I went off on a tangent.

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  • 4 weeks later...
One thing that has always confused me about Atlas Shrugged is the 'fate' that Eddie meets with at the end. Why was he not invited into the valley? Why did a person who practiced unbreached rationality come to such an end?

Any thougts?

If you're interested, Nathaniel Branden has a through answer to this question on his web site based on the impressions he received from his years with Ayn Rand.

His essay can be found at http://www.nathanielbranden.com/ess/que11.html.

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I reject Mr. Brandon's analysis because he fails to take the full context of Eddie's life into consideration, most especially Eddie's romantic love for Dagny and his reaction when he realized he felt that way.

I also doubt his memory when he discribes the Gulch as only for the prime movers. That the contrary is true is easily seen in the characters who are there, such as the truck driver, Reardon's secretary, Reardon's plant manager, etc. Other major characters also brought people with them. I think Eddie made his choice when he decided to leave on the Comet. His reasons were complex -- he wasn't a weak simpleton, as Mr. Brandon implies.

As an aside, it has been my experience that Mr. Brandon isn't necessarily a reliable source where Objectivism, or Miss Rand, is concerned. Everyone must decide for themselves, of course; this is just my two cents.

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Concerto of Atlantis:

In Atlas it says:

"The roughneck was watching them from above, listening with curiosity. She glanced up at him, he looked like a truck driver, so she asked, "What were you outside? A professor of comparative philology, I suppose?"

"No, ma'am," he answered. "I was a truck driver." He added, "But that's not what I wanted to remain."

Don't you remember that everyone had to remain at the job the held at present? No one could leave their job. He was a truck driver. Just like Galt worked the switches at the railroad. No contradiction buddy. :pimp::blink:

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Hank Rearden was not invited until he was ready mentally despite being a great producer all the way through.

Eddie was recognized by Fransisco D'Anconia as a man of lesser ability but of full integrity but he never learned the lesson that Rearden did and that Dagny did at the very end.

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