My only experience with Rand's work is The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. I can't admit to getting very much out of them since I read them when I was about 17.

I remember writing in my journal that I considered Rand's belief in self a stirring idea, but... well...

Soren Kierkegaard had an idea about the stages of Man's understanding of the world, First to grow through hedonism an understanding of self, then through Ethics & Morality to understand others, and his place in the world The third, and final, step was 'faith' in God-- what he termed 'The jump into the abyss'.

Where Rand 'jumps into the abyss' for me is her total discrediting of the concept of Altruism. That by doing well for yourself is doing well by others is just antithetical to my practical experience, and it doesn't seem very nice either.

Rand is a frequent topic with my colleagues. In any given room of software engineers, probably 30% or so are strict Randian Objectivists/Libertarians. I find that this is a pretty welcoming world view to folks that have had the fortune to funnel some cash into their pockets. I term it the "I got mine, now you get yours." theory of social politic.

...and it's just one of those things that really creep me out.

However, in her defense, I'd have to say that seeing the effects of Scientific Socialism, as she had, her point of view seems shockingly reasonable and level headed.

That is, she doesn't work for me anymore.

When I first hired her, it seemed like a good match. We were looking for creative types, hard-working self-starters. But she did all sorts of goofy things, like throwing statues down the air shaft, blowing up housing projects, and trying to organize a strike among inventors and industrialists.

So I tried to reason with her. All she would say was, "Everybody with a functioning mind does agree with me; this is the definition of a functioning mind."

At which pointed I fired her.

Okay, okay, Rand was a bad writer. She had an incredible tendency to lecture (did she ever; the Galt speech near the end of Atlas Shrugged is nuts...) which pushes a lot of people away. I can't blame you for thinking this, because she was simply a bad writer of fiction.

However (and you knew it was coming)...

Her non-fiction is astoundingly good. She is one of the ONLY people in philosophy who has the guts to address things with clear, almost simple language. She didn't use rhetoric and unclear logic in her non-fiction; by and large it was clear, concise, and even interesting (which is an incredible achievement for a writer in philosophy).

Ayn Rand doesn't work for you? Fine, whatever. For me, objectivism works (and please, PLEASE note the small 'o'), and I'll be relatively happy as long as you leave me be. Call it a Mexican stand-off; I won't try to convert you, and you won't try to convert me.

Hell, I don't even know why there are so many bloody Evangelical Objectivists (big 'O', big 'O'!). It doesn't make any sense. Objectivism is about reality, right? What the hell is a better teacher than the world around you? If an Objectivist is right (as he seems to think), and the world works exactly as he thinks (as he seems pretty assured of), then let the fools wander blind. Eventually they will see, both by the proof abounding in the world, and by his own living example. The Evangelicals scare the hell out of me, as if they're trying to convince themselves of the truth of it as much as they're trying to convince other people. A true objectivist (or Objectivist) doesn't live through the thoughts and ideas of others. S/he is self-centered and selfish, not worried about what everyone else is thinking.

That's the sum of it. If I'm right, then the world works that way, and you'll either have to come around eventually or continue living in your dream-world. If I'm wrong, then I've got other things to worry about.

The only time this becomes a real issue is when my rights are being infringed upon. I'll fight that to my dying breath. I hope you can understand that much, at least.

Hell, not everyone is a Randroid. I certainly am not. Try a couple ideas on for size, see if they work. For example, the idea that the natural state of man is capable and confident and proud. It's wildly different from most philosophical ideas, the ones that say man is inherently base and sinful and corrupt. That one idea was enough to make me wade through her fiction (which was a chore) and breeze through her non-fiction (which was a pleasure).

Like I said, Mexican Stand-off. If Rand doesn't work for you, fine. I won't press the issue; I'll just be happy you know her name and the basics. However, don't assault me with other ideas and not expect to get like in return.

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