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Sunday, January 13, 2013

• • Sam Harris’s Failure to Formulate a Scientific Morality 
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Objectivist author  | Harris’s acceptance of pleasure or happiness as the standard of moral value sets his entire moral theory on a faulty foundation. Aside from purely physical sensations, pleasure and happiness are, as Ayn Rand points out, emotional states, which are consequences of our values, not justifications for them. “Emotions are the automatic results of man’s value judgments integrated by his subconscious.” Thus, neither pleasure nor happiness can serve as the standard of moral value.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

• • • "Ayn Rand: America's Comeback Philosopher" by Craig Biddle 
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Egoism  |Individual Rights  |Paul Ryan  |Objectivist author  | If America is to “come back” to the recognition and protection of rights, Americans must discover and embrace [...] the scaffolding that grounds the principle of rights in perceptual fact and gives rise to the principle that the only proper purpose of government is to protect rights by banning force from social relationships. The philosophy that provides this scaffolding is Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. To see why, let us look at Rand’s philosophy in contrast to the predominant philosophies of the day: religion, the basic philosophy of conservatism; and subjectivism, the basic philosophy of modern “liberalism.”

Sunday, September 30, 2012

• • • Book Review: Ayn Rand Nation: The Hidden Struggle for America's Soul by Gary Weiss 
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Atlas Shrugged  |Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal  |The Virtue of Selfishness  |Capitalism  |Egoism  |Image  |Objectivist author  | Weiss implicitly promises to raise the bar of Ayn Rand criticism; to eschew the smears, the straw men, and the hearsay that are typical of Rand’s critics; and to deal with her ideas head on. If that is his aim, he certainly has a funny way of going about it. For example, Weiss mocks Rand’s principle that self-interest is a virtue, not by reference to the kinds of examples and characters Rand provides in abundance in support of her idea, but, rather, by claiming that bailed-out bankers and well-paid government bureaucrats were acting in their “self-interest” as they collected the loot.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

• • • Is Ayn Rand’s Theory of Rights Properly Classified as a “Natural Rights” Theory? 
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Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal  |Capitalism  |Egoism  |Individual Rights  |Objectivist author  | I must take issue with part of Craig Biddle’s article “Ayn Rand’s Theory of Rights” [TOS, Fall 2011]. Mr. Biddle is right to distinguish Rand’s view of rights from both the religious notion that we are endowed with rights by God and the positivist argument that rights are government-created permissions. But his attempt to distinguish Rand’s view from natural rights theories is unconvincing.

• • • Objectivism vs. Kantianism in The Fountainhead 
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The Fountainhead  |Objectivist author  | (Full article requires subscription.)
Secondhandedness is, in some cases, caused by low self-esteem; but details of personal psychology are insufficient to explain its prevalence in modern culture. A more fundamental cause is at work. That cause and its antithesis can be seen in The Fountainhead. The characters, their ideas, and their actions represent the fundamental opposing philosophies of the day. Although neither philosophy is explicitly mentioned in the book, one or the other (or both) is inherent in every scene and conflict therein.

Monday, March 14, 2011

• • • Atlas Shrugged: Part I 
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Altruism  |Atlas Shrugged movie  |Atlas Shrugged  |Egoism  |Objectivist author  | Movie review.
Atlas Shrugged: Part I, the first in a planned trilogy, should, for the most part, please the novel’s patient fans. Fortuitously following a blueprint similar to one outlined by Rand in the 1970s, the film covers the first third of the story. Like the novel, the movie focuses on Dagny Taggart as she endeavors to save her struggling railroad from both intrusive government regulations and the mysterious John Galt, who is hastening the nation’s collapse by causing the great entrepreneurs and thinkers of the country to disappear. She is aided in her efforts by Henry “Hank” Rearden, a steel magnate who is also being squeezed by government regulations and is anxious to put an end to John Galt’s activities. Those familiar with the novel know generally what to expect: the disappearance of more and more industrialists and other great producers, the banning of Rearden Metal, the “Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog Rule,” the initial run of the John Galt Line, and finally Wyatt’s Torch and the collapse of Colorado. The film substantially delivers these parts.

Friday, October 22, 2010

• • • Should Tea Partiers abandon or embrace Ayn Rand? 
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Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal  |Capitalism  |Objectivist author  | According to [Vladimir] Shlapentokh, Ayn Rand was an “elitist” who held that “the American nobility” and “Ivy League graduates” should have “the decisive voice in American politics.” This “oligarchic philosophy,” claims Shlapentokh, “is both fundamentally antiAmerican and deeply at odds with the tea party’s own ‘we the people’ cause.” In fact, says Shlapentokh, Rand and tea partiers “have very nearly opposite views on the desired political system”: Whereas Rand “sneers at democracy and majority rule,“ Tea Partiers defend “the fundamental principles of democracy as they were promulgated in the American Constitution—a fundamental point of departure from Rand.” But Shlapentokh’s account of both Rand’s and the Founders’ political views is patently false. In fact, far from being “nearly opposite” as Shlapentokh suggests, they are essentially the same.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

• • • The Ground Zero mosque, the spread of Islam, and how America should deal with such efforts 
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Ayn Rand Center  |Objectivist author  | If the symbolic location of a building is taken as legitimate grounds for government action against such a project, what is to stop government from shutting down the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, which is four blocks from the White House and engaged in an effort to substantially change our culture and our laws in ways quite contrary to the agenda of the White House?

Monday, June 14, 2010

• • • Why Anthony Daniels smears Ayn Rand 
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Altruism  |Atlas Shrugged  |The Fountainhead  |Capitalism  |Egoism  |Personal life  | In his recent New Criterion article “Ayn Rand: Engineer of Souls,”1 Anthony Daniels, better known by his pseudonym Theodore Dalrymple, attacks the well-known novelist/philosopher as being, among other things, prone to “crude” errors, a “rationalist who was not entirely rational,” “adept at self-deception,” “incapable of seeing the contradictions in her own work,” and “seriously deficient in sensibility and discrimination across a wide range of important human activities.” But Daniels’s portrayal of Rand and her ideas is a series of gross misrepresentations and smears.

Friday, May 07, 2010

• • • Essays on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, edited by Robert Mayhew 
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Atlas Shrugged  |Onkar Ghate  |Objectivist author  | (Full article requires subscription/payment.) Book review.
Gregory Salmieri presents two essays (either of which could be reason enough to purchase the book) elucidating the theme of the novel, which Rand specified as “the role of the mind in man’s existence” (p. 219), and discussing how the novel constitutes “the demonstration of a new moral philosophy” (p. 398).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

• • • Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right by Jennifer Burns 
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Ayn Rand Archives  |Atlas Shrugged  |The Fountainhead  |Capitalism  |Egoism  |Personal life  |Objectivist author  | Although Burns claims to be “less concerned with judgment than with analysis” (p. 4), her book demonstrates the opposite to be true. Time after time, she presents Rand’s views on some issue with insufficient care or analysis, only to assert in conclusion some arbitrary negative judgment. A particularly egregious instance of this occurs late in the book, in a discussion of environmentalism. Burns devotes three quarters of a paragraph to the content of Rand’s 1970 “The Anti-Industrial Revolution,” and then comments: “As usual Rand was unwilling to accept the claims of a political movement [i.e., environmentalism is about clean air] at face value, convinced that hidden agendas [i.e., the destruction of technology] drove the environmental movement” (p. 262). In light of the now widely known nature and antics of 21st-century environmentalists, Rand deserves applause for her astonishing (though unfortunately Cassandra-like) prophetic powers.