Objectivism....really objective?

Ayn Rand has presented an ethical system that is based on metaphysical facts. And the metaphysical primary upon which she has constructed her theory is ‘survival of individual human life’. There are many glaringly visible flaws in her ethical theory so far as philosophy is rational. Here is a brief overview of the flawed reasoning in her ethic.

  1. Prudence, prudence is the tendency to forgo immediate gain in the hope of a better reward in future. For example a farmer will work all the day in the field in order to cultivate a crop which will give him substantial reward in future when he sells it. Prudence is what distinguishes a civilized person from an aborigine. But prudence comes in all shapes and sizes, it’s a spectrum, which degree of prudence you prefer is a wholly subjective matter. For example I may save none from my salary if I see fit and someone may save a large portion of his salary if he sees fit, you can’t say who is rationally more correct. So, a less prudent thief can always think of a short term gain, and rob a bank or a soft target rather than thinking that he is spoiling society and in a long term he may be the subject of same treatment, or what would happen to his self-esteem and all that intellectual rubbish. As a ramification of ‘Objectivism’ he is licensed to do it because it will increase his survival chances. All evils can be justified likewise if her theory is taken seriously. This is inevitable because the theory includes society only as an add-on to it not as an integral part. In a nutshell the theory is wholly depended upon the individual interests no significance is given to the society as a collective whole. She seems to have realized it but has deliberately ignored it.

  2. Suicides are strictly unwarranted according to her theory. Suicides are a kind of psychological hedonism. If I commit suicide it’s because I find my life unbearable mentally(I’m not talking euthanasia which is a different case). In Rand’s theory life precedes emotions because emotions are means to an end that is ‘preservation of life’. To an anti-suicidist it may seem valid, but then take the case of a husband risking his own life to save his drowning life or the case of a father sacrificing his life to save his child. All these life sacrifices are unjustified because it takes ones life which is the only ultimate end to preserve. She herself concludes that life sacrifices are justified in above cases, but such conclusions do not follow from her theory.

  3. She advocates capitalism in absolute lassis-faire(spelling mistake), means absolutely no control over economic activity by the government. Well, only stock-market giants and their likes would celebrate this view.

  4. Her theory lacks originality or at least it’s not as original as it is purported to be. Objectivism is a watered down Darwinism, a quasi-rational adaptation of Darwinianism. But being unoriginal is not same as being fallacious so this point is misplaced in the list.

  5. She rejects all kinds of mysticism outright. Another unwarranted conclusion. Mysticism has a high emotional value. Problems arises only when mystics assert their feelings as undeniable truth. Mysticism, if we understand it in it’s raw form, is in no conflict with reason or science. Mystic feelings are extra-rational but not irrational.

Honesty,truthfulness,humility all these values are rationally indefensible, they defy every rational explanation, but why? unfortunately I do not profess to have the answer what I do profess to know is that we mankind do need those lofty values, always whether rational or irrational.

Let me make it clear that I’m no congenital opponent of Rand. I do admire her as an excellent teacher of philosophy and a prolific writer, after all her books are considered modern classics.

She clarifies cases like this in her book The Virtue of Selfishness. I don’t know if you have read that book or not, but she describes it like this:

A husband risking his own life to save his drowning wife or child is justified because of the possibility that, without either his wife or child, his life would be unlivable. Life to him without these people is not worth living. I.e. life without his loved ones has no value. Therefore, the risk he makes is not a sacrifice, because that which he is risking has no value to him.

Aside from that clarification, I agree that there are flaws to be found in her philosophy. Most important to me is the fact that she embraces the pursuit of perfect rationality as the ultimate means to achieving her definition of success. Perfection is, perhaps by definition, irrational, so in a way she is suggesting that success is achieved fully by pursuing the irrational.

Yes I have read ‘virtue of selfishness’ in fact that book is my main source for this article…but i would still say that her justification of giving up ones life for ones kins does not follow from her theory although she tries to prove that it does. The main thing in her theory is that survival of one’s own life precedes everything, the only end, anything that diverts oneself from that end is unwarranted. The logically defensible conclusion from her theory is that a father should rather make up his mind and make himself emotionally independent of his kins.

Where does she say that?
Never mind, I’ll tell you where she says that - nowhere.
She is perfectly clear that all that matter is values. Life is nothing without them. Attempting to attain ones values can mean risking ones life.

Absolute rubbish. You should learn what it means to value someone.

Why would perfection be irrational? Especially, why by definition?

Before making judgments about the pursuit of perfect rationality, one should take note of Ayn Rands specific notion of rationality. Central to this is: getting your values straight. Being clear on ones premises for reasoning. (The two words are underlined to stress their relation.)

then you’ve either not read the book or have got her philosophy all wrong. ‘value’ in her philosophy comes after ‘life’, it gets it’s definition only in relation with survival of life. values are empathized because that help a man to continue his life.

it’s not about whether i need education on the notion of value or anything…i was just rephrasing her philosophy.

Hey Jakob… I do intend to make myself read The Virtue of Selfishness this summer (having read a fair amount of her otherwise long ago), and will attempt to be as objective as I might be able to be, and will keep you in mind in that regard. Nonetheless, I think the following from Ayn’s own lips pretty much places the spotlight on what is at issue here (from about 5:16 forward)…


I’ll let her words speak for themselves right now, except to say that as a parent, a husband, and social being in general, I cannot help but to assume that Rand is simply ignorant of the basic experience of genuine human compassion; that she is psychologically incapable of comprehending the basis of how she is critiqued by we plebian others. Her romanticism has become a self-destructive force for her.

You objectivest. :stuck_out_tongue:

I think it’s in line with the rationalist project, in line with Descartes and Spinoza and Kant. Theory uber alles; taking first principles and applying them to explain how the world should and must be, with no regard for the messiness of how the world is, nor any evident will to find out. And a strong focus on the individual ripped from any social context, the island man that is left to his own pure reason, the Enlightenment error.

Insofar as altruism should not be used as a tool for coercion, I agree with her; insofar as it’s a despicable voluntary act to her, I disagree. Does she treat positive and negative freedoms as identical?

Sweartugodd I’m gonna give it a go! I actually have a deep and festered personal grudge against Ms. Rand, and would truly love some resolution in that regard.

It’s the notion, as the above clip concludes with, that “extremely few persons deserve love” that catches in my craw, and basically sums her childlessness up for me.