Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Frank Li — What If Ayn Rand Was Wrong, Mostly?

Frank LI takes on Ayn Rand.
To understand Libertarianism and American Conservatism, one needs to study Ayn Rand, which is what this post is about.…
Ayn Rand was a successful novelist. But her works on philosophy should be irrelevant, because they are too extreme, thus more wrong than correct.
Rand constructed a fantasy world in her novelist's mind, which is what novelist's do, but then she believed in it, confusing it with the real world. So do a lot of other people that can't distinguish fantasy from reality and are prone to magical thinking.
What If Ayn Rand Was Wrong, Mostly?
Frank Li | Chinese ex-pat, Founder and President of W.E.I. (West-East International), a Chicago-based import & export company, B.E. from Zhejiang University (China) in 1982, M.E. from the University of Tokyo in 1985, and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 1988, all in Electrical Engineering

See also

As a professional philosopher myself, I can report that Ayn Rand is ignored by the profession, much of which is embarrassed by her identification as a philosopher rather than a popular novelist. She was not even a good writer and is not studied in literature classes either.

The following post is long and technical — a difficult read, I would suspect, for those not familiar with the history of philosophy to the present. The interesting thing about it though is it is summarizes Robert Nozick arguments eviscerating Rand's "philosophy." Robert Nozick is the actual philosopher closest to Rand's position and sometime incorrectly associated with her, so he can hardly be accused of academic prejudice.
This near-unanimous rejection has led to some remarkably uncharitable, and bizarre, attempts to explain away the lack of academic interest: in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Rand, its authors write that “her advocacy of a minimal state with the sole function of protecting negative individual rights is contrary to the welfare statism of most academics,” claiming outright that the overwhelming majority of professional philosophers and political theorists have been simply unable to fairly evaluate her work because of the biasing factor of their prior political commitments.
Somehow the same ‘welfare statism’ of academics has not prevented the close study of Robert Nozick’s landmark Anarchy, State and Utopia, a sophisticated libertarian text that mounts an original, and far more effective, argument against redistributive policies. Apart from John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice, there is perhaps no more commonly-assigned book in undergraduate political philosophy classes.
The problem with Rand from the standpoint of professional philosophers is that she was either not acquainted with the field or incapable of understanding the argumentation that characterizes the history of Western intellectual tradition. In any case, she simply was not qualified for the task she undertook. I'll leave it to the literateurs to evaluate her work as literature.

Rotman Institute of Philosophy
The System that Wasn’t There: Ayn Rand’s Failed Philosophy (and why it matters) -Nicholas McGinnis


Konrad said...

Ayn Rand was motivated by three pathologies.

[1] She was a sociopath, lacking in empathy for other humans. Today we would call her a neoliberal. She greatly admired serial murderer William Edward Hickman as a “truly free man." Among other crimes, Hickman kidnapped a 12-year-old girl, held her for ransom, and then decapitated, dismembered and disemboweled her. When the girl’s father came to pay the ransom, Hickman placed the reassembled parts of the girl’s body in the passenger seat of a parked car, and stitched her eyes open so her father would think that she was still alive. When Hickman received the ransom money, he jumped into the car with the girl's body parts and sped off, laughing. At the end of the block, Hickman threw the girl’s body parts onto the street and sped away, still laughing. All of this inspired Ayn Rand, and she wrote about Hickman glowingly in her journals. She was so star-struck by Hickman's evil that he wrote an unfinished novel in praise of him. (Hickman was caught and hanged in 1928).

[2] As a sociopath growing up in the USSR, she despised socialism and conformity (unless Rand personally needed it, as when she accepted Medicare and Social Security in the USA)

[3] She was a Jewish supremacist (nee Alisa Rosenbaum) with all the evils that entails.

Kaivey said...

Her followers say we greatly misunderstand her. Well, they must be sociopaths too. What is there to greatly misunderstand? She turned morality up-side-down on its head.

Konrad said...

“Her followers say we greatly misunderstand her. Well, they must be sociopaths too.”

They are. Paul Ryan, Alan Greenspan, etc.

Actually most of her fans (not all) are young males with sociopathic tendencies. They tend to be selfish, egotistical, impatient, and frustrated (and therefore hostile). They see everyone around them as idiots.

Some women have these traits too. Most (not all) are Jews, e.g. Pam Geller, and Ayelet Shaked (Israel's ultra-militant “Minister of Justice”).

In most cases (not all) people eventually mature out of this youthful psychosis. They grow out of the Ayn Rand cult, and they join the human race.

Or else they remain psychotic and become prominent politicians.

Noah Way said...

Waiting for Roddis to leap to Ayn's defense ...