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Is Ellsworth Toohey Based On Kant?

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While reading Kants, "The Critique of Pure Reason"(yeah right. I actually read a 90 page summary of the book) I noticed some similarities that make up Ellsworth Toohey's character in The Fountainhead. Here they are:

- they are both extremely thin and railly. In the back of my copy of The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand describes the cause of Tooheys desire to control men: "..a subconscious revenge for his obvious physical inferiority." Im guessing Ayn Rand made that depiction with Kant and his desire to control others.

- a main principle in their life's philosophy is the duty to serve.

- a comment Kant once made was, "..happiness and morals have nothing in common."(summarized), and to go along with that Kant feels that its not of importance or good at all to be happy. I am almost certain Toohey told Cathryn or Peter Keating this same thing.

- they both need their followers to abandon the use of reason in order to understand and accept their ideas/philosophy. Thats how Roark was immune to Tooheys ideas and Ayn Rand was immune to Kants'.

- It probably isnt necessary to point this out since its obvious but they were both very evil men and had ultimately destructive philosophies.

- they both were tremendous at absorbing knowledge but naturally, didnt have the capabilities to create.

As you can tell, I still dont have a full understanding of Kant but I think there are some basic resemblances between him and Toohey. You may or may not have already made these connections, so I thought I would point them out to the ones who havent. I also wouldnt mind feedback correcting me on some mistakes I made in my declaration here, as I only just begun reading Kant.

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According to David Harriman, editor of The Journals of Ayn Rand, "Ellsworth Toohey's manner of combining architectural criticism with collectivist propaganda was taken in part from the writings of Lewis Mumford and Bruno Taut." (p. 118) As for Toohey's appearance and style, British socialist Harold Laski, was the model. She said in a 1961 interview, "Laski was the soul of Ellsworth Toohey in the flesh. . . I drew a sketch during the lecture, with the narrow cadaverous face and glasses and big ears, and I gave it all to Toohey." (p. 113)

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I still dont have a full understanding of Kant but I think there are some basic resemblances between him and Toohey.
I don't think Toohey's based on Kant; if he were, that would seem to be the same error being attributed to this book.

Specifically:

In the back of my copy of The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand describes the cause of Tooheys desire to control men: "..a subconscious revenge for his obvious physical inferiority." Im guessing Ayn Rand made that depiction with Kant and his desire to control others.
Kant desired to control others?
They both need their followers to abandon the use of reason in order to understand and accept their ideas/philosophy.
I rather doubt an adherent to Kant's philosophy would implicitly or explicitly agree with that.
They both were tremendous at absorbing knowledge but naturally, didnt have the capabilities to create.
Kant didn't create anything?
It probably isnt necessary to point this out since its obvious but they were both very evil men and had ultimately destructive philosophies.
My understanding of Kant isn't the best either, but I'm not sure Kant should be seen in the person of Toohey (amusing as it might be.) Toohey was evil because he knew what he was doing was evil, whereas "evil" as such isn't a word I'd necessarily use to describe Kant.
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- they both were tremendous at absorbing knowledge but naturally, didnt have the capabilities to create.
I think several of your claims are wrong, but I'm going to single this one out because its less well known than the others. Before he started to focus on philosophy, Kant was extremely interested in physics and produced several original theories. To quote from a biography here

Kant's most striking early contribution to knowledge, however, was his General Natural History and Theory of the Heavens (1755). Kant had two noteworthy theories in physics and astronomy. One was the "Nebular Hypothesis" of planetary formation. Kant reasoned that diffuse nebulae, dim clouds of dust and gas that were only first being well observed in his lifetime, would collapse under the force of gravity. As they did, they could begin spinning and would then spin out into a disk. From these spinning disks stars and planets would form. Unlike the greatest of earlier German philosophers, Leibniz, Kant was not himself much of a mathematician, so the theory was not given a mathematical form until the great French mathematician Laplace (1749-1827) in 1796. Although there was still argument in my childhood about the formation of planets, it now seems to be generally accepted that both stars and planets condense out of nebulae and collapsed, spinning disks of dust and gas. There are stellar "nurseries" that can be examined in places like the Orion Nebula. Kant was right. Unfortunately, some astronomy textbooks refer to the Nebular Hypothesis as the theory of Laplace alone, instead of the Kant-Laplace theory, and do not give Kant proper credit.

Kant's second theory was also about nebulae, of a different kind. Along with bright and dark diffuse nebulae and planetary nebulae (which have nothing to do with planets), there are spiral nebulae. Laplace believed that these were actually the spinning disks of the Nebular Hypothesis. Kant had a different idea. In 1750 Thomas Wright had suggested that the Milky Way, the Galaxy, was a vast spinning disk itself, consisting of stars and everything else, and that the earth was part of this system. An observational confirmation of this came from the great astronomer William Herschel in 1785. Kant's idea was that the tiny spiral nebulae were themselves external galaxies, "island universes" independent of the Milky Way. There was really no evidence for this. It was just a guess, and Kant may even have been confused about some issues. Nevertheless, it launched a great debate that lasted all the way until 1924. Astronomers were either Laplaceans or Kantians.

Kant's interest in physics provides an important context for analysing his later work, because a lot of his thought is closely related to the Newtonian paradigm of physics (for instance, his passionate attempts to avoid accepting the determinism implied by a mechanical universe). Kant's metaphysics/epistemology is ultimately based on his theory of space and time, which he developed in opposition to the popular theories of space/time that had been put forwards by Newton and Leibniz.

Even apart from this, its quite bizarre to claim that someone who wrote the CPR was 'unable to create'. Whether or not you agree with with Kant's philosophy, theres no denying that it was original and historically important.

Edited by Hal
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Another major difference between Kant and Toohey that hasn't been mentioned: their politics. Toohey was explicit in his collectivist politics. Kant was still an advocate of a relatively free, limited, representational style government-- one holdover from the Enlightenment era of philosophy which he failed to annihilate explicitly. It was up to Kant's followers to apply his ethics consistently to politics and invent the kind of totalitarianism Toohey was attempting to bring about.

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Let's say he was good at inventing new forms of destruction.

Did Kant purposely create a philosophy that would ruin mankind or was that not his intention? Because theres a lot of doctrines out there that wouldnt benefit mankind but does that mean they wanted to destroy the human race or they hated men?

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[...] Kant's philosophy [...] was original and historically important.

So was Nazism.

Nazism was "original" in its particular, unique combination of elements, and it was "important" in that it caused mass destruction.

In terms of fundamentals, in what way do you -- as an anti-Objectivist -- think Kant's philosophy was "original"?

- In his ontology of two worlds?

- In his epistemology of proleptic subjectivism?

- In his ethics of altruism?

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So was Nazism.

Nazism was "original" in its particular, unique combination of elements, and it was "important" in that it caused mass destruction.

Indeed. And as such, it would be wrong to claim that the developers of Nazism were unable to create, or that their philosophy isnt original. A person who creates a destructive system has still created something.

A lot of the individual elements of Objectivism have historical precedent (the metaphysics lies firmly in the realist tradition, the epistemology has its roots in Locke, the ethics were influenced by Nietzsche and Aristotle, and the politics are classic liberal), but this doesnt mean that it isnt original; an integrated system is more than the sum of its parts.

In terms of fundamentals, in what way do you -- as an anti-Objectivist -- think Kant's philosophy was "original"?

- In his ontology of two worlds?

- In his epistemology of proleptic subjectivism?

- In his ethics of altruism?

He was original in proposing the transcendental ideality of space and time, which was the fundamental aspect of his philosophy, and provided the departure point for the German Idealism which followed him. His seperation of the priori/a posterior distinction from the analytic/synthetic one was original (Hume conflated the two) and was important in the history of mathematical logic since Frege took this as a starting point for his work. Kant's deontological ethics were original since noone had approached morality in that manner before (to my knowledge) - his conclusions arent that different from the classic "Golden Rule", but the way he arrived at them was new. His realisation that existence wasnt a predicate was also very important in the development of modern logic, through Russell and Frege, although admittedly this wasnt a central part of his work.

Also, whatever his faults, Kant wasnt a subjectivist, and I'm not an 'anti-Objectivist' (whatever that means).

Edited by Hal
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Kant's deontological ethics were original since noone had approached morality in that manner before (to my knowledge)

Are you saying nobody derived ethics from duty prior to Kant, or that nobody derived it in the exact manner of Kant? While I'd say it's certainly true that Kant was the most consistent altruist up to his time, I believe the deontological approach to ethics can be traced back at least as far as the Greek stoics.

I don't know of anyone who derived moral imperatives from the universalizability principle before Kant-- that is, that in order for an action to be moral, it must be proper for all men in all circumstances. That principle in combination with the idea that self-interested actions are amoral is the essence of Kant's ethics as I understand it. You could derive both of those from a certain interpretation of Christianity, but nobody that I know of did it consistently, obsessively, and comprehensively the way Kant did-- at least the way he almost did, and his followers finished the job.

Did Kant purposely create a philosophy that would ruin mankind or was that not his intention? Because theres a lot of doctrines out there that wouldnt benefit mankind but does that mean they wanted to destroy the human race or they hated men?

Such speculations as that are difficult if not impossible to prove conclusively one way or the other. It can be fun and sometimes useful to wonder, "What did Nietzsche really mean?" Or, "Did Stalin really believe in Communism, or was he just hungry for power?" And you can point to certain evidence they left in their writings and actions to support one case or the other. But how can you know for certain the secret motivations of these men, or whether Kant destroyed half the world on purpose or if it was only an accident?

Whatever his intentions were, no psychologically healthy adult would ever accept such a philosophy as Kant’s, much less invent it. Did he "know"? Hard to say-- the onus of proof would be on whoever says that he did. One significant piece of evidence against him is the effect his philosophy has, in fact, had on civilization.

Another clue to finding out the effect a philosopher intends for his philosophy to have on others is to examine as best you can his intentions and regard for his own life, and his self-esteem. But I don't personally know enough about Kant to say if that information is available or not in this case.

Edited by Bold Standard
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I'm not an 'anti-Objectivist' (whatever that means).

It means that you continue posting on an Objectivist forum, questioning and debating Objectivist ideas, even though you obviously aren't an Objectivist and aren't seriously considering to become one. What does this make you? A person who is working against Objectivism--an anti-Objectivist.

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It means that you continue posting on an Objectivist forum, questioning and debating Objectivist ideas, even though you obviously aren't an Objectivist and aren't seriously considering to become one. What does this make you? A person who is working against Objectivism--an anti-Objectivist.

I post here because, although I openly admit I dont agree with all aspects of Objectivism, I agree with enough of it to get a lot out of discussions with several people here.

As far as I know, youre an administrator on this forum so if you dont want me around or think I'm "working against Objectivism", youre free to ban my account, or ask me to leave.

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I post here because, although I openly admit I dont agree with all aspects of Objectivism, I agree with enough of it to get a lot out of discussions with several people here.

As far as I know, youre an administrator on this forum so if you dont want me around or think I'm "working against Objectivism", youre free to ban my account, or ask me to leave.

I would suggest that you bring up your points of disagreement with the philosophy on the Debate Forum, so we can either convince you or, failing that, decide whether the nature of your disagreements justifies asking you to leave.

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Anti-Objectivist
Heh, now that's a beautiful term B)

How is addressing a question (posed by someone else) regarding Kant either against forum rules or even against Objectivism? Particularly to the extent that "Kant is evil incarnate" is not an official premise of Objectivism, at least as I understand it.

Now, if it in some form was a derivative of Objectivism, it would only be fair(?) to show why Kant was 666.

*lets CF and Hal resume*

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I would suggest that you bring up your points of disagreement with the philosophy on the Debate Forum, so we can either convince you or, failing that, decide whether the nature of your disagreements justifies asking you to leave.

I'm currently in the middle of exams and have no time or inclination to get involved in an extended debate. But even if I wasnt, I'm not sure what the point would be. I think I've been posting here long enough for most people to have a reasonable idea what my opinions are (like I think I do with most other regulars here) so I doubt anyone would gain much from, or be interested in, some sort of ego-massaging "What Hal Thinks" thread.

In any case, I think you'd struggle to find many posts I've made on this forum that actually disagree with Objectivism (other than in a few of the free-will threads from a while back), as I generally try to make sure my posts stay within the forum rules. As I said, if I thought the majority of moderators/admins (or even regular posters) didnt want me here then I'd happily stop posting, but I havent been given any indication that this is the case.

Edited by Hal
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