Skip to comments.Ayn Randís Tragic Trajectory
Posted on 03/06/2014 8:38:51 AM PST by jonno
On the 32nd anniversary of her death, Pastor John Piper discusses the life and influence of Ayn Rand (~11 min interview).
Hmmm - doesn’t launch from Mozilla (probably my add-ins). It does however, seem to work from IE.
If anyone is interested, here is the RSS feed address...
Not part of my my lexicon. Can you expand?
Bump For Later
Thanks - I didn’t even think of that one (I must be too close to the subject).
The only alternative I could find on Google was “big f’n lie” - which didn’t compute. I should have restricted my search to FR.com...
LOL! No, I meant the other 'bfl' (bump for later).
Basically a self ping so I can check it out later this evening. Thanks.
But, specific to faith:
From a question/answers session (printed in "Ayn Rand Answers"):
Question: We are told that religion is our best protection against communism. Why do you say we should keep religion out of politics?
Ayn Rand: For the same reason the Founding Fathers gave. Religion is a private matter. There are many different religions. The difference between religion and philosophy is that religion is a matter of faith. You either have faith or you don't. You cannot argue about it. But when you deal with philosophy, you deal with reason and logic. That is an objective element of language common to all men. You can try to persuade others that you are right, or you are free to disagree with them. In a free country, you need not deal with them. But religion is an issue of faith. By definition, if one doesn't accept faith, or if different people believe different faiths, no common action, agreement, or persuasion is possible among them if religion is made a condition of political agreement. ...
Persuasion, reason, argument are not the province of religion. Religion rests on faith - on an acceptance of certain beliefs apart from reason. This is why it must be private. When it's a private matter, it's fine, it can even be a kind of inspiration to people. Faith is what each man may choose for himself, if he wishes. I don't.
Question: If religion is instrumental in spreading altruism, can we fight altruism in America without fighting religion?
Ayn Rand: In America, religion is relatively nonmystical. Religious teachers here are predominantly good, healthy materialists. They follow common sense. They would not stand in our way. The majority of religious people in this country do not accept on faith the idea of jumping into a cannibals pot and giving away their last shirt to the backward people of the world. Many religious leaders preach this today, because of their own leftist politics; its not inherent in being religious. There are many historical and philosophical connections between altruism and religion, but the function of religion in this country is not altruism. You would not find too much opposition to Objectivism among religious Americans. There are rational religious people. In fact I was pleased and astonished to discover that some religious people support Objectivism. If you want to be a full Objectivist, you cannot reconcile that with religion; but that doesn't mean religious people cannot be individualists and fight for freedom. They can, and this country is the best proof of it.
In America, you would not find it difficult to divorce religion from altruism. After all, Christ said: Love your neighbor as yourself. So you must love yourself. After that, you can argue about your neighbors.
Well, that's your opinion.
She rejected faith out of hand as a means of coming to any conclusion, yet, there are things that require faith based on evidence, such as reaching a verdict in a jury trial.
We all use our 'faith' on a daily basis, based on what is reasonable.
We have faith our car will start in the morning, have faith that the lights go on when we hit a switch.
Christians have faith in God because the Bible is true and the evidence for that truth is overwhelming.
In the quote above, she defines her use of the word faith as "belief apart from reason,". Meaning, if there is a "reason" to believe something, that would not fall into the category of "faith" (either mystical or Biblical). It is not "faith" that your car will start in the morning. A working light switch is not a matter of faith.
If you do not like her specific definitions, that is fine. However, it makes no sense to apply your definition and still expect that she'd be saying the same thing. It is "blind faith" that she speaks about, always. To her, the "blind" part is redundant.
If you present "overwhelming evidence" of something, then the discussion can proceed via reason and logic -- faith would not be required in that situation.
On a different topic, here's something I recently re-read. Again, she makes the point of defining her terms at the very start. This is the begining an essay called, "The New Fascism: Rule By Consensus.":
I shall begin by doing a very unpopular thing that does not fit todays intellectual fashions and is, therefore, anti-consensus. I shall begin by defining my terms, so that you will know what I am talking about:
Let me give you the dictionary definitions of three political terms: socialism, fascism, and statism:
Socialism a theory or system of social organization which advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production, capital, land, etc. in the community as a whole.
Fascism a governmental system with strong centralized power, permitting no opposition or criticism, controlling all affairs of the nation (industrial, commercial, etc.).
Statism the principle or policy of concentrating extensive economic, political, and related controls in the state, at the cost of individual liberty.
It is obvious that statism is the wider, generic term, of which the other two are specific variants. It is also obvious that statism is the dominant political trend of our day. But which of the two variants represents the specific direction of that trend?
Observe that both socialism and fascism involve the issue of property rights. The right to property is the right of use and disposal. Observe the difference in those two theories: socialism negates private property rights altogether, and advocates the vesting of ownership and control in the community as a whole, i.e. in the state: fascism leaves ownership in the hands of private individuals, but transferscontrol of the property to the government.
Ownership without control is a contradiction in terms: it means property without the right to use it or to dispose of it. It means that the citizens retain the responsibility of holding property without any of its advantages: while the government acquires all the advantages without any of the responsibility.
(Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal 1965).
I think that her answers in the two comments you cite are fatuous. Having read most of what she wrote in my teenage years in the sixties, it is pretty clear to me that she would like to address all arguements from a rationalist perspective to avoid the larger questions of faith and virtue.
The purpose of man in the Christian world and the purpose of man in the Randian world are so far apart as to lack any relation to each other. Chambers long ago pointed out that she had little variance with Marx in wanting to set religion aside in all analysis of the fate and purpose of mankind.
By all means, youngsters should read her, but most will realize she is creating a world of class struggle in her world view, much like Marx, and a world view based soley upon the Producers against the Looters is the stuff of comic books best left when growing into adulthood.
Keep in mind that over the years Piper has often commented on Rand. This Interview was not meant to be an exhaustive critique. In the following link Piper deals more directly with her ideas.
Hank weighs in too (a blast from the past)...
You have reiterated some of the exact reasons why I started studying Rand (far after I was a teenager). I noticed that it was extremely difficult to find thorough debates and criticisms of her ideas. Her name brings up the same hostility (or worse, because it is from all "sides") and ad hominem attacks as uttering the names, Rush Limbaugh, or Sarah Palin... (and now Ted Cruz). That always piques my interest, so I delve deeper.
>>it is pretty clear to me that she would like to address all arguements from a rationalist perspective to avoid the larger questions of faith and virtue.
In my reading of her fiction and non-fiction, the questions of faith, values and virtue are all over the place. She also rejected the philosophical camps of rationalism and empiricism. If she were to be pigeonholed by academics though, they'd likely call her an empiricist. But she is mostly ignored by our "wise college professors," best I can tell.
Thanks, I’ll check these out. I actively seek out criticism of Rand and her ideas. Rand had a way of using such precise and literal language (perhaps because English was a second language) that it becomes a bit disappointing when I start reading a critique that immediately sets up a straw man and argues against that.
Jonno’s first link at 15 is a good read.
I posted my comment about her trying to lay religous thought aside as fatuous and self serving because she even has you saying “that they often drop the context and reject her conclusion based on a premise that she did not put forward...” where she attempts to dodge the hindrance of atheism by asking all discourse and discussion lay aside religous belief before beginning her “logical” discussion.
Our first amendment is not meant to lay religion outside the public arena, it is meant to foster it in all its mydrid forms.
If modern man sits astride the three legged stool of science, ethics and religion answering what man is allowed to know, what man is allowed to do and what man is allowed to hope then it is simply gaming to ask him to take a leg off the stool prior to sitting down for a discussion and agreement — which is what Rand is doing in your quoted portion.
I remember the first time I read Whittaker Chambers review of Atlas Shrugged and being astonished at it vitrol. That was twenty-five years ago. After the last twenty years, I now think it is reasoned and mild.
Both of them hated Communism and it is indeed true that Rand is more well read and understood than Chambers. But which one understood the best what it was and why it must be fought? In my book it was Chambers.
The idea that religion is inherently subjective, that it cannot be objectively and universally true, is where all the trouble started.
I think you have that exactly backwards. One believes the Bible on the authority of G-d, not G-d on the authority of the Bible. That would make the Bible a deity (G-d forbid!).
She rejected faith as a means of cognition.
She simply is using the definition 'belief which is not based on proof'.
But the other meaning of faith is 'confidence or trust in a person or thing'.
That trust and confidence is based on various proofs.
Christianity never claimed that one should believe it's claims without proof.
In fact, it claimed it could defend it's claims of Christ's resurrection with 'many infallible proofs (Acts 1:3)
It is not faith that starts your car in the morning, but it is faith that it will start in the morning. Sometimes it doesn't for some reason unknown to us (leaving the lights on)
No doubt the system that the U.S. has adopted is fascism, as Rand predicted when she observed John F. Kennedy's administration.
Are you suggesting that religious agreement (or uniformity) should be a precondition of law making (politics)?
I'm happy to swap the word "faith" with "belief" if it improves our ability to share thoughts and concepts without confusion.
In the quote above, she does state her view on a legitimate place for faith. A private choice. She said:
"When it's a private matter, it's fine, it can even be a kind of inspiration to people. Faith is what each man may choose for himself, if he wishes. I don't."
If you read that as "belief," it should still work. Either way, if there is infallible proof of something to rely on or validate, Rand does not reject having confidence or trust in that thing. (I'm the same way, I love infallible proof. ) So I think we can both agree that we can have confidence and trust in infallible proof, and it is not something that you merely "believe" in.
Let's not be insulting.
I had understood that you introduced some quotes by Rand that she offered in a manner to negotiate the issue of her robust atheism. The quote seemed to say that her beliefs were little more than a way of saying religious belief was faith and since she felt all questions could only be addressed in public society by rationalism, religious belief must always be set aside in public decision making.
I was suggesting that Miss Rand was self-serving in such an argument -- take it or leave it if you don't agree as I am not disputing you, but objecting to Rand.
Thank you for the discussion, I appreciate your insight.
An audio interview of a fundamentalist Baptist pastor and his critique of Rand’s atheism.
Who cares what a fundamentalist Baptist minister thinks about Ayn Rand?
If you read through the thread you will find others who care as well.
Some important points are proffered and well worth consideration.
A member of our book club suggested I ping the group on this.
I meant, why should I care about a believer’s opinion about an atheist? You tell me.
The need to keep the discourse in the spiritual realm is a necessity to avoid rational debate.
And yet there is (dare I say it?) a similarity in the strong belief in a supreme being and the vehement denial of one. It is an oddity that self proclaimed spiritual leaders feel threatened by proponents of atheism, after all, didn't God create atheists?
I apologize if you took that as an insult. It was not intended to be insulting in any way. It seems we are taking away different messages from the Rand quote I posted regarding religion in politics. My question to you was an honest one to see if you disagreed with the meaning of her answer. I read it literally and agree with the reasoning.
I know Rand argues that if charity is said to be a moral "duty" then it corrupts or perverts the concept "benevolence".