What is Objectivism (as in Ayn Rand?)

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by majordude, Jul 8, 2008.

  1. majordude macrumors 68020

    majordude

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    #1
    I've been trying to figure this out for years. What the hell is objectivism? I can't get through any of Ayn Rand's novels (I find her style of writing VERY boring).

    But I was poking around Wikipedia and was thinking about "Libertarianism" and her name came up. She isn't a libertarian I guess but isn't liberal, conservative or fascist either.

    What the hell does objectivism stand for?

    I understand Neil Pert from Rush is a fan of hers but his music doesn't help me either. :rolleyes:
     
  2. dmr727 macrumors G3

    dmr727

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    #2
    I always imagine it as pure capitalism. No regulation on the corporate or individual level. Let people create freely, and let the market sort it all out. An emotionless, almost robotic way of looking at the world.
     
  3. majordude thread starter macrumors 68020

    majordude

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    #4
    I have no idea what the hell that is trying to tell me.

    How does it differ from the Dems, Republicans, Socialists, Fascists, Libertarians, etc?
     
  4. aLoC macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    It's not Libertarianism. Libertarians take the free market too far, they believe in things like competing governments. Objectivists believe in one government only with strong law and order.
     
  5. majordude thread starter macrumors 68020

    majordude

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    #6
    So monopolies are okay if the market leads to that (Ma Bell, Microsoft, Edison)?

    And on an individual level? No laws?
     
  6. mwickens macrumors member

    mwickens

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    #7
    Objectivism is Ayn Rand's complete, integrated system of philosophy. Politics is only a part of it. She starts with the fundamentals - metaphysics (what is the nature of reality?) and epistemology (can we know anything, and if so, how?). On this she builds her system of ethics, and from this comes her political philosophy.

    Objectivism holds that reality exists, things have identity (can't be A and non-A at the same time), and that we can discover reality by the proper use of our mind to form valid concepts (i.e., mental entities that correspond accurately to reality).

    In morality, Objectivism advocates rational selfishness. Rand believes that the proper beneficiary of ethics is the individual who acts. The goal of morality is to live your own life as fully as possible. The cardinal Objectivist virtue -- the means of attaining this goal -- is rationality; i.e., always using your own mind to discover what is true and what it implies for your life. Other virtues are productivity, honesty, integrity, pride, and independence.

    Politically, Rand advocates a system that allows people to practice morality. They must be free to exercise their own judgment, produce what they need in order to live a full life, and have the right to keep what they produce. She was therefore a proponent of full, laissez-faire capitalism. The government, in this system, is there solely to protect individual rights. No individual and no government may initiate physical force, and the government has a monopoly on the use of retaliatory force, via the police, military and a system of objective law.

    Rand opposed conservatives because they based their support of capitalism on religion. She opposed libertarians because they claimed no philosophical support was necessary (or that any would do). Rand believed that capitalism makes sense -- and can only be defended properly, and therefore attained and kept -- only when understood in the context of a proper ethical system.

    You can find out more at the Ayn Rand Institute. Here's a good place to start:

    http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=objectivism_intro

    For specifically political stuff, check out their new Center for Individual Rights:

    http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=arc_what_do_we_stand_for

    Mark
     
  7. aLoC macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    They would say monopolies are ok because the job of government is to protect the individual from the use of force by terrorists, criminals, foreign powers, etc. not necessarily to "maintain a competitive environment."

    But maybe mwickens knows better.
     
  8. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #9
    I cannot say I have actually read any of her work, but I have seen a screenplay, The Fountainhead, staring Gary Cooper.

    It said to me that the creation of the entrepreneur is sacrosanct, and I have no problems with that concept.

    Simplistic perhaps, but there it is.
     
  9. mwickens macrumors member

    mwickens

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    #10
    Objectivists believe that true monopolies can't arise under laissez-faire capitalism. When a company really has a complete stranglehold in one area, it's almost always due to government regulations (that would certainly apply to Ma Bell). When government isn't allowed to prop up a dominant player, someone else is always free to enter the market. And the bigger the dominance, the more lucrative and attractive it would be for those competitors.

    As for Microsoft, Objectivists were among the loudest defenders of them against the antitrust suits. Microsoft was not and is not a monopoly, and the things they were accused of doing would be perfectly legal under a free system. No one was ever forced to buy a Microsoft product or accept the terms they set.

    For more, see http://www.aynrand.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=6170

    Mark
     
  10. dmr727 macrumors G3

    dmr727

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    #11
    I've read both Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and that's the big thing that stuck out at me. Not necessarily no laws, but the government can't impose laws that inhibit an individual's ability to achieve.

    I don't have any in depth knowledge of objectivism such as what mwickens displayed - I'm just speaking from what I got from the books personally.
     
  11. mwickens macrumors member

    mwickens

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    #12
  12. majordude thread starter macrumors 68020

    majordude

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    #13
    Thanks! I'll have a go at those.
     
  13. question fear macrumors 68020

    question fear

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    #14
    That is definitely a big point of her philosophy. mwickens had a pretty dead on explanation.

    OP: If you have trouble with her writing style (and some do, it is tough to get through some of those impentratable speeches her characters tend to make) the audiobooks are also a good choice. I have read her books many times, and encouraged a friend to read the audiobook of "Atlas Shrugged". She loved it.

    (I also once encouraged an employee of mine to read Atlas Shrugged, and he came flying over to me one afternoon, yelling "YOU DIDN'T TELL ME THERE WAS A PIRATE IN THIS" so there's some more encouragement for you.)
     
  14. floyde macrumors 6502a

    floyde

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    #15
    objectivism n. A justification for selfish behavior, disguised as philosophy.

    Lol, that's sounded a bit like The Devil's Dictionary :p. Anyway, it's just my humble opinion, don't flame :eek:.
     
  15. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #16
    This is a completely fair definition, IMO. Objectivism is a rather ridiculous concept right out of the box, only becomes sillier when you read Rand's commentaries and theories. Incidentally, Rand and her acolytes would tell you that, in effect, selfishness is a legitimate philosophy, and in fact the only legitimate philosophy. They might hesitate to use those exact words, but make no mistake, this is precisely what they mean.
     
  16. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #17
    If one needed an example of how quickly Objectivism becomes ridiculous, this will do. Antitrust laws don't actually address "monopolies" by any of the strict definitions of the word, and in reality, true "monopolies" rarely occur. Antitrust laws are, and always have been, designed to curb the use of market power to restrain trade. So we can see how quickly hyperbole takes over, and this so-called "objective" philosophy turns out to be very subjective indeed.
     
  17. prijikn macrumors newbie

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    #18
    I think objectivism is the best form of equality.
     
  18. benmrii macrumors 65816

    benmrii

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    #19
    That's well said.

    I do rather enjoy her novels, however. The Fountainhead remains one of my all time favorite fiction. Atlas Shrugged, while plagued with lots of bad incidents and the "author as god" complex, is pretty good too. If nothing else, you have to respect her command of the English language as it was not her first.
     
  19. MykelM macrumors newbie

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    #20
    The use of words like "ridiculous", "silly", "acolytes" are always to be understood as attempts to shore up the intellectual insecurity of the commenter by diverting attention from his inability to assemble any ideas of substance on the subject. Confirmation follows in the reference to selfishness as a philosophy instead of what it is, one principle in one branch (ethics) of philosophy.

    Here we get some trivianomics as a stalking-horse to add "hyperbole" and "so-called" to the now well entrenched "ridiculous". Too bad. You are really missing your big chance to rebut mwickens here by relying on these petty intimidations. You should hit him squarely in the substance where it hurts!

    Objectivism has a single political principle that is genetically dependent on its particular ethics which is in turn derived from its particular view of epistemology. That political principle governs all of its positions on political issues and is directly responsible for the positions mwickens listed in his post. You need to cite that principle and show us the errors in the underlying principles that would lead to a real refutation of mcwickens post. Then, from that base, you could comment more intelligently on the question of whether Objectivism meets or does not meet the criteria of being both a comprehensive and an objective philosophy.

    Or, as an alternative, you could just admit to the truth that you don't really know enough about the philosophy to say anything actually relevant to its efficacy one way or the other and that you have no intention of showing mwickens the courtesy of informing yourself before hurling your cheapshots in his direction.
     
  20. benmrii macrumors 65816

    benmrii

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    #21
    "Ridiculous," "silly," etc. are no less applicable words to objects or situations such as Jackass shows and movies, the last three Palahniuk books, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and people who join message boards for the sole purpose of trying to put someone down (welcome to MacRumors, by the way). In my opinion, with regard to the absolute tenets of Objectivism, they also apply.
     
  21. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #22
    I think her novels are hilarious. The characters are wooden, the dialog melodramatic and stilted. The plots are comic. I'm being serious about this. "The Fountainhead" was a tough push, but I laughed through many passages. It's even funnier if you know the first thing about architecture, which clearly, Rand did not. I am grateful that I was not exposed to these books when I was a teenager, because like anyone else at that age, I was likely to be enthralled with a philosophical position which completely validated my youthful view of the world, which is that everything I want is good and right and anyone who stops me is bad and wrong.

    I've got the advantage of having debated this subject at length with numerous people over many years, and of having actually read Rand's fiction and nonfiction. This makes the charge of "intellectual insecurity" (whatever that is), dare I say, ridiculous. If anyone would like to have a more in-depth discussion of Rand and Objectivism, by all means, but you're going to have to come up with something better than "intellectual insecurity" as a line of attack. BTW, in my experience, "acolytes" is a perfectly valid descriptor for Rand's devotees. In my experience, they are true believers in every sense of the term.
     
  22. Badandy macrumors 68040

    Badandy

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    #23
    Ayn Rand is trash who only seeks to lead a cult following.


    Oh, and Mykel:


    You just got served
     

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  23. MykelM macrumors newbie

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    #24
    The accusation is not about whether or not those words do or do not apply. It is that in the absence of any demonstration that they do and how they do apply, they are worth no more than the spectacle of watching an invisible gas expanding in a vacuum. Caveat: I am saying this within a specific context, i.e. under the assumption that the forum's purpose is to discuss and debate political ideas.

    If I am wrong, and the purpose is just to experience others spouting opinions, i.e. solely for the purpose of entertainment, then comments like IJReilly's would technically qualify. But given that such comments exist on the internet in all but infinite numbers about all subjects possible to imagine, how uniquely entertaining could that be?

    I gave IJReilly a chance to show his stuff on Objectivism in my last post, and what did he do with it? He told us how knowledgeable he was. As I predicted, however, he was unable to provide any actual ideas to demonstrate that he actually does know anything about the application of the Objectivist ethics and politics to the questions of monopoly and the restraint of trade. That is to say he gave us only hearsay. His expectation of all readers to take his word that Rand is ridiculous without evidence is tantamount to a claim of infallibility and degrading to the readers.

    This forum is a marketplace of knowledge. The currency is ideas. One earns consideration, agreement and feedback with ideas. Ridicule in this marketplace is not an exchange, it is an act of extortion. IJReilly offers you nothing in exchange for your agreement that Rand is ridiculous but the implied threat that failure to agree will make you ipso facto ridiculous too. His target is the weak-minded readership that can't see the con and fail to call his bluff solely out of fear of being seen as ridiculous. The payoff for IJReilly is the pseudo-self-esteem gleaned from pats on the back from the abundance of posters who rely on the same tactic.

    Rand devoted all of Chapter 19 of her book, "The Virtue of Selfishness" to the fallacy in IJReilly's method of debate. He didn't get it, of course, because he was too busy practicing his laughter disguise. Laughter is also not an idea, nor can it qualify as a cogent philosophical argument. But that suits his purpose perfectly, because the whole point of attacking ideas with ridicule is to stay as far away from substance as possible. The interjection of substance into an argument carries with it the responsibility for the thinking necessary to interject it and subsequently to defend it, which, in turn requires a lot of hard intellectual work.

    Ridicule is the cheapest argument in the store of knowledge, and as ever, you only get what you pay for.
     
  24. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #25
    Objectivism is the codification as philosophy of antisocial personality disorder.
     

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