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Nietzsche v. Rand


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#1 Stephen Boydstun

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 10:10 AM

Nietzsche v. Rand
Your Moral Ideal
Claiming Nobility
Parallels and Influence
"Truth of Will and Value"
Part 1 – Before Zarathustra
Part 2 – Zarathustra and Beyond
––––––– Rand 1929–38 A, B, C
––––––– Rand 1938–46 A, B, C, D, E
––––––– Rand in Full


Your Moral Ideal

"Man knows that his desperate need of self-esteem is a matter of life or death. As a being of volitional consciousness, he knows that he must know his own value in order to maintain his own life. He knows that he has to be right; to be wrong in action means danger to his life; to be wrong in person, to be evil, means to be unfit for existence." (AS 1057)

"Pride is the recognition of the fact that you are your own highest value . . . —that to live requires a sense of self-value, but man, who has no automatic values, has no automatic sense of self-esteem and must earn it by shaping his soul in the image of his moral ideal, in the image of Man, the rational being he is born able to create, but must create by choice. . . ." (AS 1021)

"Do you wish to fight for my world? . . . Do you wish to undertake a struggle . . . where the hardships are investments in your future, and the victories bring you irreversibly closer to the world of your moral ideal?" (AS 1068)

Pride is one of the seven virtues Ayn Rand crafted for her ethics (AS 1018–21). These virtues are said to be necessary means for a life whose "supreme and ruling values" are: reason, purpose, and self-esteem (AS 1018). Those three values are together "the means to and the realization of one's ultimate value, one's own life" (OE 25).

The virtue pride corresponds with the value self-esteem, corresponds as necessary means to end (OE 25). Pride is the process of achieving self-esteem by thinking for oneself (AS 1057), by "unbreached rationality" (AS 1059), "by never accepting any code of irrational virtues impossible to practice and by never failing to practice the virtues one knows to be rational—by never accepting an unearned guilt and never earning any, or, if one has earned it, never leaving it uncorrected" (OE 27; see also "Selfishness without a Self" and Tara Smith's ARNE 236–47).

The virtue productiveness corresponds with the value purpose, corresponds as necessary means to end. Productiveness is means to human survival, but it also provides a central purpose to the life of the rational animal that is man. The central purpose is "the central value that integrates and determines the hierarchy of all his other values" (OE 25). Productiveness is means to purpose by way of realization of purpose. Productiveness is the continual process of "remaking the earth in the image of one's values." It is "the process of achieving your values, and to lose you ambition for values is to lose your ambition to live" (AS 1020; see also ARNE 203–5, 209–12).

I should mention that Rand conceives of the particular forms of the virtue productiveness as economically adaptive (AS 713–27). Moreover, the concept productiveness is broad; it includes the work of parents, educators, and counselors (AS 785, 994–95).

The virtue rationality corresponds with the value reason, corresponds as activity to faculty of the activity. Distinctively as virtue, "rationality means the recognition and acceptance of reason as one's only source of knowledge, one's only judge of values and one's only guide to action" (OE 25). Rationality is the fundamental necessary means for human survival and psychological well-being (AS 1016–18).

In Rand's ethics: "Virtue is not an end in itself. Virtue is not its own reward . . . . Life is the reward of virtue—and happiness is the goal and reward of life" (AS 1021).

To the contrary, Friedrich Nietzsche writes in Thus Spoke Zarathustra:

You still want to be paid, you virtuous! Want to have reward for virtue, and heaven for earth, and eternity for your day? / And now you're angry with me for teaching that there is no reward and paymaster? And truly, I do not even teach that virtue is its own reward. / Oh, this is my sorrow; reward and punishment have been lied into the ground of things—and now even into the ground of your souls, you virtuous! / . . . / All the secrets of your ground will be brought to light . . . . Your lie will be separated from your truth. / For this is your truth: you are too pure for the filth of the words revenge, punishment, reward, retribution. / You love your virtue as the mother her child; but when did anyone ever hear that a mother wanted to be paid for her love? / . . . / Your virtue should be your self and not a foreign thing, a skin, a cloaking; that is the truth from the ground of your soul, you virtuous! (Z II "On the Virtuous")

According to Nietzsche, virtue is not means to any end, not even to itself as end. "You say it is the good cause that hallows even war? I tell you: it is the good war that hallows any cause" (Z I "War and Warriors").

Virtue is an ascent. One creates one's virtues from one's unique suite of drives and passions and one's unique experience.

"You set your highest goal at the heart of these passions, and then they became your virtues and passions of pleasure. / And whether you stemmed from the clan of the irascible or the lascivious or the fanatic or the vengeful: / Ultimately all your passions became virtues and all your devils became angels. / Once you had wild dogs in your cellar, but ultimately they transformed into birds and lovely singers" (Z I "On the Passions of Pleasure and Pain"). (See also HH II[1] 91, II[2] 70, and D 560.)

A year earlier, in The Gay Science:

Have you never heard of an intellectual conscience? A conscience behind your 'conscience'? Your judgment "this is right" has a pre-history in your instincts, likes, dislikes, experiences, and lack of experiences. . . . / The firmness of your moral judgment could be evidence of your personal abjectness, of impersonality; your "moral strength" might have its source in your stubbornness—or in your inability to envisage new ideals. . . . / What? You admire the categorical imperative within you? This "firmness" of your so-called moral judgment? This "unconditional" feeling that "here everyone must judge as I do"? Rather admire your selfishness at this point. And the blindness, narrow-mindedness, and modesty of your selfishness. For it is selfish to experience one's own judgment as a universal law; and this selfishness is blind, narrow-minded, and modest because it betrays that you have not yet discovered yourself nor created for yourself an ideal of your own, your very own—for that could never be somebody else's and much less that of all, all! (GS 335; see also 120 and BGE 221, 228, 272)

(The translation of the preceding passage is Walter Kaufmann's except that I have put narrow-minded for kleinliche where he put petty, and I have put modest for anspruchslose where he put frugal. It is perhaps unnecessary to say, but I will say it just to be sure: Nietzsche espouses a type of noble selfishness, which the selfishness criticized in this passage is not. Rand, of course, espouses a variety of rational selfishness.)

In Beyond Good and Evil Nietzsche writes of his competitors:

Whether it is hedonism or pessimism [sympathy/pity], utilitarianism or eudaemonism [well-being/happiness]—all these ways of thinking that measure the value of things in accordance with pleasure and pain, which are mere epiphenomena and wholly secondary, are ways of thinking that stay in the foreground and naïvetés on which everyone conscious of creative powers and an artistic conscience will look down . . . . / In man creature and created are united: in man there is material, fragment, excess, clay, dirt, nonsense, chaos; but in man there is also creator, form-giver, hammer hardness, spectator divinity, and seventh day . . . . / There are higher problems than all problems of pleasure, pain, and pity; and every philosophy that stops with them is naïveté. (BGE 225)

In Zarathustra:

Those who care most today ask: "How are human beings to be preserved?" But Zarathustra is the only one and the first one to ask: "How shall human being be overcome?" / The overman is in my heart, that is my first and my only concern—and not human beings . . . . / Oh my brothers [you higher men], what I am able to love in human beings is that they are a going over and a going under . . . . / . . . / Today the little people have become ruler: they all preach surrender and resignation and prudence and industry and consideration and the long etcetera of little virtues. / . . . / That [which is of little people] asks and asks and does not tire: "How do human beings preserve themselves best, longest, most pleasantly?" With that—they are the rulers of today. / . . . / Overcome for me, you higher men, the little virtues, the little prudence, . . . the pitiful contentedness, the "happiness of the greatest number"! (Z IV "On the Higher Man")

On Rand's view, "man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads" (AS 1069). The roads of man are of unlimited good prospect because of the possibility of men embracing the value of human existence and the virtue of rationality, because of what men will discover and invent, because of their advancing material productions.

When Rand writes of the individual "shaping his soul in the image of his moral ideal, in the image of Man," it is man we know, with moral virtues right for all men; it is not man becoming some faint fancied overman. These universally fitting human virtues are not strangers; they are of one's self.

When Rand writes of a struggle wherein "the hardships are investments in your future, and the victories bring you irreversibly closer to the world of your moral ideal," the ideal is more fully embodied than in the quotation of the preceding paragraph. Here "the world of your moral ideal" is success in one's particular ventures of production together with success in joint efforts to create a dependable and just legal framework for those ventures. Rand's term irreversibly is puzzling. It seems to me that she was thinking of a relative irreversibility, a relative reliability of advance, in comparison with prospects under false virtues and under law not protecting true, individual rights.

A world in which virtue brought one (not relatively, but absolutely) "irreversibly closer to the world of your moral ideal" would seem to be a world with dynamics of human action "as it ought to be." I expect there is some sense to this plane of ethical thought—I'm reminded of the idea of an evenly rotating economy in economic theory—but for now its moorings remain in the mist.


Nietzsche References

Human, All Too Human (HH) 1879–80 (II). R. J. Hollingdale, trans. 1986. Cambridge.

Daybreak (D) 1881. R. J. Hollingdale, trans. 1997. Cambridge.

The Gay Science (GS) 1882 (I–IV). W. Kaufmann, trans. 1974. Random House.

Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Z) 1883 (I&II), 1885 (IV). A. Del Caro, trans. 2006. Cambridge.

Beyond Good and Evil (BGE) 1886. W. Kaufmann, trans. 1966. Random House.

#2 Brant Gaede

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 01:29 PM

The stylistic similarities between the referenced Nietzsche and Galt's speech are notable.

--Brant

Rational Individualist, Rational self-interest, Individual Rights--limited government libertarian heavily influenced by Objectivism


#3 Stephen Boydstun

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 03:33 PM

Yes, and there are Rand’s uses of phrases surely from Nietzsche, put to work to elicit similar feelings, but used to mark somewhat different conceptions. Two examples are “the hero in your soul” and “a new nobility.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“But by my love and hope I beseech you: do not throw away your love and hope! You still feel noble . . . . I knew noble people who lost their highest hope . . . . But by my love and hope I beseech you: do not throw away the hero in your soul!” (Z 30–31)

“In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man’s proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish . . .” (AS 1069; cf. 637, 812–13)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“My brothers, we need a new nobility, which is the adversary of all rabble and all despotic rule and which writes anew the word ‘noble’ on new tablets. . . . Not where you come from shall constitute your honor from now on, but instead where you are going! Your will and your foot, which wants to go over and beyond yourself—let that constitute your new honor!” (Z 162–63)

“He had a caste system of his own: to him, the Taggart children were not Jim and Dagny, but Dagny and Eddie. . . . Eddie asked him once, ‘Francisco, you’re some kind of very high nobility, aren’t you?’ He answered, ‘Not yet’.” (AS 90)

Z – Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Adrian Del Caro, translator (Cambridge 2006).

Edited by Stephen Boydstun, 13 January 2010 - 03:37 PM.


#4 Stephen Boydstun

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Posted 17 January 2010 - 12:28 PM

Claiming Nobility

Among the aphorisms composing Nietzsche’s 1878 work Human, All Too Human, is this one:

Wealth as the Origin of a Nobility of Birth. – Wealth necessarily engenders an aristocracy of race, for it permits one to select the fairest women, pay the best teachers, grants to a man cleanliness, time for physical exercises, an above all freedom from deadening labour. To this extent it creates all the conditions for the production over a few generations of a noble and fair demeanour, even noble and fair behaviour, in men: greater freedom of feeling, the absence of the wretched and petty, of abasement before breadgivers, of penny-pinching. . . (479).

In We the Living (1937), the reader learns of heroine Kira that she

was born in the gray granite house on Kamenostrovsky. In that vast mansion Galina Petrovna [Kira’s mother] had a boudoir where, at night, a maid in black fastened the clasps of her diamond necklaces; and a reception room where, her taffeta petticoats rustling solemnly, she entertained ladies with sables and lorgnettes. . . . / Kira had an English governess, a thoughtful young lady with a lovely smile. She liked her governess, but often preferred to be alone—and was left alone. . . . / . . . The first thing that Kira learned about life and the first thing that her elders learned, dismayed, about Kira, was the joy of being alone. (36–37)

At eighteen the eyes of Kira “looked at people quietly, directly, with something that people called arrogance, but which was only a deep, confident calm that seemed to tell men her sight was too clear and none of their favorite binoculars were needed to help her look at life” (35). It seemed that her body’s “sharp movements were the unconscious reflection of a dancing, laughing soul” (35).

In Atlas Shrugged (1957), hero Francisco d’Anconia "was the last descendant of one of the noblest families of Argentina. He owned cattle ranches, coffee plantations and most of the copper mines of Chile. He owned half of South America and sundry mines scattered through the United States as small change” (53). One generation after another, “The d’Anconia heirs had been men of unusual ability, but none of them could match what Francisco d’Anconia promised to become. It was as if the centuries had sifted the family’s qualities through a fine mesh, had discarded the irrelevant, the inconsequential, the weak, and had let nothing through except pure talent; as if chance, for once, had achieved an entity devoid of the accidental” (93).

The boy Francisco would be brought every summer, by “a stern South American tutor,” to spend a month at the Taggart estate on the Hudson (90). The Taggart children, James and Dagny, are future heirs of a transcontinental railroad. A friend of their father once remarked of Francisco “That boy is vulnerable. He has too great a capacity for joy” (97). When they were teenagers, Dagny once asked Francisco “‘What is the most depraved type of human being?’” He replied “‘The man without a purpose’” (99).

Nietzsche looks on wealth of the nobility as making possible the development of the noble in a man. A noble man “has become accustomed to desiring nothing of men and always bestowing gifts” (497). Rand’s youthful heroines and heroes are self-sufficient in disposition, but they are focused on their present and future creative productivity. Kira builds a raft to ride a rapid river, and she takes up the study of engineering to build great bridges; Francisco builds an elevator to ascend a cliff, and he studies everything bearing on the enterprises he will inherit. Francisco is not focused, at least not at his outset, on the benefits his future productivity can bring to his fellow human beings. He acknowledges no social responsibility concerning the fortune he will inherit. His focus, like the focus of the Taggart heir Dagny, is on finding ways of increasing the fortune.

Rand looks on the fortunes of wealthy families as the results of the noble in a man. For a family fortune in her fiction, she wants to tell the story of the man who first made the fortune. His traits are noble traits, under Rand’s cast of the noble in human beings. The children of the wealthy are indeed advantaged in their education. Some of such children will not be noble humans, neither under the cast of Nietzsche nor under the cast of Rand. On that Nietzsche and Rand concur.

That a conception of a new nobility, for the modern age, should include the traits of being a self-starter and having a self-sufficient disposition is agreed by Nietzsche and Rand. Nietzsche writes in The Gay Science (1882):

The Ultimate Noblemindedness – So what makes a person ‘noble’? Certainly not making sacrifices; even those burning with lust make sacrifices. Certainly not following some passion, for there are contemptible passions. Certainly not that one does something for others without selfishness: perhaps no one is more consistently selfish than the noble one. – Rather , the passion that overcomes the noble one is a singularity, and he fails to realize this: the use of a rare and singular standard and almost a madness; the feeling of heat in things that feel cold to everyone else; a hitting upon values for which the scale has not yet been invented; a sacrifice on altars for an unknown god; a courage without any desire for honors; a self-sufficiency that overflows and communicates to men and things. (55)

Rand’s Kira is one who feels the heat in things that feel cold to everyone else.

She stopped suddenly, as they walked down a street in the evening, and pointed to a strange angle of white wall over battered roofs, luminous on a black sky in the glare of an old lantern, with a dark, barred window like that of a dungeon, and she whispered “How beautiful!”. . . . / . . . She had the same feeling for white statues of ancient gods against black velvet in museums, and for steel shavings and rusty dust and hissing torches and muscles tense as electric wires in the iron roar of a building under construction. (38–39)

All of the traits Nietzsche takes for admirable, and names noble, in the portion of §55 of Gay Science that I quoted above are also taken by Rand as admirable. One of them is as old as Socrates (and Homer?). That is “courage without any desire for honor.” There was another element in ancient conceptions of nobility somewhat at odds with that one: care for one’s reputation.

Nietzsche hewed closer to the ancients, than did Rand, in what he would include in a new conception of nobility as an ideal. He writes in Daybreak (1881): "We are nobler. – Loyalty, magnanimity, care for one’s reputation: these three united in a single disposition – we call noble, and in this quality we excel the Greeks. Let us not abandon it, as we might be tempted to do as a result of feeling that the ancient objects of these virtues have lost in estimation (and rightly), but see to it that this precious inherited drive is applied to new objects" (199).

Nietzsche emphasized magnanimity; Rand did not. Nietzsche embraced the ancient noble hallmark leisure as fertile field required for the development of the noble youth and for creativity of the noble man. He writes in Gay Science:

Leisure and idleness. – . . . How frugal our educated and uneducated have become concerning “joy”! How they are becoming increasingly suspicious of all joy! More and more, work gets all good conscience on its side; the desire for joy already calls itself a “need to recuperate” and is starting to be ashamed of itself. “One owes it to one’s health” – that is what one says when caught on an excursion in the countryside. Soon we may well reach the point where one can’t give in to the desire for a vita contemplativa (that is, taking a walk with ideas and friends) without self-contempt and a bad conscience. Well, formerly it was the other way around: work was afflicted with a bad conscience. A person of good family concealed the fact that he worked if need compelled him to work. (329)

Rand’s noble ones take their greatest joy in productive work, most particularly commercially valuable work. Two things were impossible to the youth Francisco: “to stand still or to move aimlessly” (94). Eddie, a childhood friend of Francisco’s through the Taggart children, once asked Francisco, “as they stood by the tracks of the Taggart station, ‘you’ve been just about everywhere in the world. What’s the most important thing on earth?’ ‘This’, answered Francisco, pointing to the emblem TT [Taggart Transcontinental] on the front of an engine” (95).

Nietzsche saw something savage, ignobly savage, “in the way Americans strive for gold; and their breathless haste in working (GS 329). The only way he sees the arts of buying and selling—the art of trade—as something noble is under a wild fancy of a future possible world in which trade is no longer a necessity, but is engaged in by some individuals “as a luxury of sentiment” (GS 31).

In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Part III (1884):

Before Sunrise
. . . “By chance” – that is the oldest nobility in the world, I give it back to all things, I redeemed them from their servitude under purpose. / This freedom and cheerfulness of the sky I placed like an azure bell over all things when I taught that over them and through them no “eternal will” – wills. / This mischief and this folly I placed in place of that will when I taught: “With all things one thing is impossible – rationality!” / A bit of reason to be sure, . . . .

It is rationality, not nobility, that Rand will unveil as the center of that in human being that is to be admired (in Fountainhead, and all the more in Atlas). That idea has a long philosophic pedigree, though Rand will cast the concept of rationality anew. Rand’s noble ones are rather venturesome; they engage in risk, particularly, purposeful entrepreneurial risk. So chance is part of their world and is not entirely unwelcome.

The reader may have noticed that Nietzsche’s embrace of the nobility of leisure and contemplative life is in the step of Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics X) and Greek philosophers in general. In Happy Lives and the Highest Good, Gabriel Richardson Lear argues that the virtues of courage, temperance, and greatness of soul (notice, magnanimity is under that last one; cf. pride in Rand’s ethics)

are fine because they show the agent’s commitment to the most excellent leisurely use of reason. In the press of practical affairs, the virtuous agent orients his actions—both in terms of the states of affairs they aim to produce and, more important, in what they celebrate—toward a conception of the human good that is both leisurely and excellently rational. This emphasis on the leisurely use of reason turns out to be significant. For when we get to book X, Aristotle will argue that the most leisurely use of reason, and therefore the use of reason most suited to be an end, is philosophical contemplation. (125)

This Aristotelian human ideal is too rational and systematic to suit Nietzsche. For Rand, of course, its orientation of reason runs the wrong way. Reason keeping the trains running is second to none in nobility, and philosophy protecting and nurturing that reason is philosophy most fine.

References

Nietzsche, F. 1878. Human, All Too Human – A Book for Free Spirits. R.J. Hollingdale, translator. 1986. Cambridge.
——. 1881. Daybreak – Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality. M. Clark and B. Leiter, translators. 1997. Cambridge.
——. 1882. The Gay Science. J. Nauckhoff, translator. 2001. Cambridge.
——. 1884. Thus Spoke Zarathustra – A Book for All and None (III). A. Del Caro, translator. 2006. Cambridge.

Rand, A. 1936 (1959). We the Living. Signet.
——. 1957. Atlas Shrugged. Random House.

Richardson Lear, G. 2004. Happiest Lives and the Highest Good – An Essay on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Princeton.

Edited by Stephen Boydstun, 17 January 2010 - 09:00 PM.


#5 Stephen Boydstun

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 12:29 PM

Parallels and Influence

Rand had been introduced to Nietzsche in Russia. Allan Gotthelf records that Rand was introduced to Nietzsche “by a cousin, who informed her that ‘he beat you to all your ideas’” (2000, 14). When she came to America in 1926, the first book she bought in English was Thus Spoke Zarathustra, “and she underlined her favorite passages” (18n7). Rand had considerable affinity with the Nietzsche of that work. Prof. Gotthelf notes that the remark by Rand’s cousin suggests that Rand already held some ideas in common with Nietzsche before being introduced to his thought. He hastens to add that Nietzsche surely did have an influence on Rand’s thought as she came read some of his work.

I remember a high school class in which I had spoken up concerning individualism, self-reliance, and freedom. The teacher had said in a friendly way “You should read Ayn Rand. You’re just like her.” I did not follow up on that. I would come around to reading Rand about three years later, by another encouragement.* That later nudge was through receiving Fountainhead and Atlas as a Christmas gift. The giver had written in the front of Atlas: “Read ‘The Fountainhead’ first.” When I opened Fountainhead and began to read about Howard, I could not help but notice that he was a lot like me, especially in the part in which Peter’s mother gets after Howard to leave his drawings and go to see the Dean. It is not implausible to me that two people can independently of each other have a good many values and personal characteristics in common. Moreover, it is not implausible to me that a thinker, even one further along in intellectual development than Rand had been at her discovery of Nietzsche, could have independently come to a good many of the same explicit and rare philosophical views. For there was such a man, his writings endure, and his name is Jean Marie Guyau.

When Guyau wrote A Sketch of Morality without Obligation or Sanction, he was not acquainted with Nietzsche’s writings. In the fall of 1884, Nietzsche ordered this book, soon to be issued, from Paris. Guyau was a new philosopher and was unknown to Nietzsche until he received this book, which he had begun to study by May 1885.

(Nietzsche had learned to read French with ease in time for Guyau’s Sketch. An expanded second edition of this book appeared in 1890, two years after Guyau’s death (age 34), one year after Nietzsche’s complete mental collapse. Guyau’s Esquisse d’une Morale sans Obligation, ni Sanction was translated into English by Gertrude Kapteyn in 1898. Hers is a translation of the second edition. Outside the Sorbonne several years ago, I purchased the second edition in the original language for a memento of the trip. So I have been able to verify Kapteyn’s translation. Some years ago, I found the first edition in Regenstein at Chicago. I marked up my second edition to indicate the alterations and additions made from first to second. So in any of my discussions of Nietzsche’s Guyau, I am able to meet the requirement of relying solely in what was in the first edition.)

There were remarkable affinities between their ideas. In common background, they had knowledge of certain authors and currents in contemporary psychology, biology, and philosophy. In this 1885 work, Guyau was setting aside morality from religious faith, from Kantian duty, and from utilitarianism. He was investigating how far morality could be determined from a purely scientific view of the nature of life. Here was a kindred spirit for Nietzsche (and, more importantly for Nietzsche, a competitor). There were differences: Guyau had some training in and love for science; he prized modern, capitalistic life; and although his was a thoroughly individualistic vision, it was not an egoistic vision.

Like Nietzsche (GS §48; BGE §56), Guyau rejected the pessimism that Schopenhauer and his followers had decorated and that, really, had been cultivated as far back as Buddha. Guyau argued against the pessimistic view of life that condemns pleasure and desire. Guyau looks “not only to psychology, but to biology [to] find out whether the actual laws of life do not imply a surplus value of welfare over pain” and to show that the morality he would uphold on scientific grounds “would be right in wanting to conform human actions to the laws of life, instead of aiming at final annihilation of life, and of the desire to live” (S 33).

“If, in living beings, the feelings of discomfort really prevailed over those of comfort, life would be impossible. . . . The subjective discomfort of suffering is only a symptom of a wrong objective state of disorder . . . . The feeling of well-being is like the subjective aspect of a right objective state. In the rhythm of existence, well-being thus corresponds to evolution of life, pain to dissolution” (S 33–34).

“If the human race and the other animal species survive, it is precisely because life is not too bad for them. . . . A moral philosophy of annihilation, to whatever living being it is proposed, is like a contradiction. In reality, it is the same reason which makes existence possible and which makes it desirable” (S 37).

Guyau concludes “that suffering is not the evil most dreaded by man—that inaction is often still worse; that there is, moreover, a particular kind of pleasure which springs from conquered sorrow, and, in general, from every expended energy” (S 30).

“There are two kinds of pleasure. At one time pleasure corresponds with a particular and superficial form of activity (the pleasure of eating, drinking, etc.); at another time it is connected with the very root of that activity (the pleasure of living, of willing, of thinking, etc.). In the one case, it is purely a pleasure of the senses; in the other, it is more deeply vital, more independent of exterior objects—it is one with the very consciousness of life” (S 77).

With those few samples from Guyau, a little of his kinship with both Rand and Nietzsche is apparent. Guyau, however, was not a proponent of any sort of egoism, and his praise of concern for one’s fellows was repellant to Nietzsche. Guyau motivated such concern in a conception of life that included expansiveness and growth in its fundamental nature and that included a stress on the love of risk in human nature. Nietzsche increased his attention to those factors in his subsequent representations of life, though he continued forth with his recently distilled fundamental characterization of life as will to power, quite at odds with Guyau’s concept of life.

Until recently, I had assumed that, despite important similarities with Rand’s outlook, it was very unlikely she would have ever encountered Guyau's ideas (in French or in English). However, I have recently learned that a summary of Guyau was widely available in Petr Kropotkin’s Ethics: Origin and Development (1924 in English). So perhaps Rand had known something of Guyau’s view, not only the views of some of the moralists (and the anti-moralist Nietzsche) better known than Guyau today, as she crafted her own view.

Robert Mayhew notes that Rand had read “all the major works of Nietzsche, in Russian translation, before she left for the United States” (2005, 37). I would count as major The Gay Science, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Beyond Good and Evil, and On the Genealogy of Morals. Prof. Mayhew does not specify which works of Nietzsche he means as major. Another widely read work of Nietzsche’s, and one read by Rand sooner or later, was his The Birth of Tragedy (1872). I shall neglect this early work of classical studies and cultural commentary. After the professional failure of that work, Nietzsche turned away from writing philology and inched towards writing philosophy. He finds his own philosophic voice (reached by the fourth) in the sequence Human, All Too Human (1878–80); Daybreak (1881); The Gay Science (1882 [I–IV]); Zarathustra (1883 [I–II], 1884 [III], 1885 [IV]); Beyond Good and Evil (1886); The Gay Science (1887 [V]); On the Genealogy of Morals (1887).

Statements and concepts expressed with multiple possible meanings in the early works of this sequence are put to decided meaning, integral to his mature philosophy, in the later works. That is the way I look at Rand’s philosophical statements within her We the Living (1936) and her Anthem (1938). In these works, Rand had not yet found the positive philosophy fully her own. She sometimes used the philosophic voice of the mature Nietzsche, but with meanings less definite than his and without their organic connectivity in Nietzsche’s mature thought. In subsequent installments, I shall trace various Nietzschean chimes in Rand’s early works to their replacements in her mature philosophy. There we arrive at the oppositions of Rand’s mature philosophy to Nietzsche’s. This project can be given the smiling title “Overcoming Nietzsche.”

In the piece “Your Moral Ideal” at the beginning of this thread, I addressed the Nietzschean idea that there is not some one morality appropriate for all men; I addressed the contrast with Rand’s mature position. Nietzsche writes in Beyond Good and Evil:

Not one of these clumsy, conscience-stricken herd animals (who set out to treat egoism as a matter of general welfare) wants to know . . . that what is right for someone absolutely cannot be right for someone else; that the requirement that there be a single morality for everyone is harmful precisely to the higher men; in short, that there is an order of rank between people, and between moralities as well. (§228)

Signs of nobility: never thinking about debasing our duties into duties for everyone . . . . (§272)

Reaching back in Rand’s intellectual (and literary) development, we find her writing in We the Living (1936):

Kira: I know no worse injustice than justice for all. Because men are not born equal and I don’t see why one should want to make them equal. (Quoted in Sciabarra 1995, 101; and in Mayhew 2004, 211)

References

Gotthelf, A. 2000. On Ayn Rand. Wadsworth.

Guyau, J. 1890 [1885]. A Sketch of Morality without Obligation or Sanction (S). G. Kapteyn, translator. 1898. Watts & Co.

Mayhew, R. 2004. We the Living: ’36 and ’59. In Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living. Lexington.
——. 2005. Anthem: ’38 and ’46. In Essays on Ayn Rand’s Anthem. Lexington.

Nietzsche, F. 1886. Beyond Good and Evil. Horstmann and Norman, translators. 2002. Cambridge.

Rand, A. 1936. We the Living. Macmillan.

Sciabarra, C.M. 1995. Ayn Rand – The Russian Radical. Penn State.

Edited by Stephen Boydstun, 07 February 2010 - 07:11 AM.


#6 jeffrey smith

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 08:27 PM

Stephen, you've actually managed to be more informative than Wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia....ean-Marie_Guyau

Some short passages of Guyau's writings can be found at (sacre-bleu!) marxists.org (hence cutsie "CopyLeft")
http://www.marxists....guyau/index.htm
Magna est veritas et praevalebit.

#7 Stephen Boydstun

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 12:56 PM

Truth of Will and Value

Part 1 – Before Zarathustra

“. . . trembling with the craving and rapture of questioning . . .” –GS 2

To age 30, the major philosophic influences on Nietzsche were Emerson, Plato (largely negative), Schopenhauer, Lange (materialism), and Kant. At age 21, shortly after his conversion to atheism, Nietzsche read Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Presentation (1844). He remained a Schopenhauerian for ten years, 1865–75. He continued to read Schopenhauer to the end of his intellectual life. Of special importance, during his philosophically mature period, was his study of Schopenhauer’s On the Basis of Morality (1839), which includes a major critique of Kantian ethics. Nietzsche read Kant’s Critique of Judgment in 1867–68. It appears that his knowledge of Kant’s philosophy outside that work was indirect, coming through a good number of writers on Kant (Brobjer 2008, 22–42, 46–49).

Schopenhauer’s WWP includes endorsement of basic elements of Kant’s theoretical philosophy such as Kant’s distinction between things as they are in any possible cognition of them and things as they are in themselves. Nietzsche had evidently assented to that view of the world and our situation, but broke with this Kantian view along with his break from Schopenhauer’s philosophy, acutely in 1875–76. Nietzsche took a semi-positivist, anti-metaphysical turn at this time, spurred in part by work of Paul Rée (Small 2005). During this profound shift, Nietzsche read favorably the moralists and Enlightenment figures of France.

Schopenhauer had come to the view (1844) that there is a blind, natural, striving will operating in all organisms. This unitary will was alleged to be manifest in organisms by the purposiveness of their ontogeny, inner organization, and interdependence with other species of organisms (WWP I 2.187, 4.323–24, 4.364–65).

Nietzsche had read favorably Julius Bahnsen’s Contribution to Characterology: With Special Regard to Educational Questions in 1867. In this work Bahnsen “followed Schopenhauer closely but at the same time developed his philosophy in a more individual direction by emphasizing that true reality is not one general will as Schopenhauer claimed but instead was many contradicting wills that constitute human beings whose inner life therefore is always in turmoil” (Brobjer 2008, 48).

In Human, All Too Human, Nietzsche criticizes Schopenhauer’s calling by the single designation will what are in fact “many different human states.” Such talk of the will has, “through the philosopher’s rage for generalization turned out to be a disaster for science: for this will has been turned into a metaphor when it is asserted that all things in nature possess will; finally, so that it can be pressed into the service of all kinds of mystical mischief it has been misemployed towards a false reification – and all the modish philosophers speak of it and seem to know for certain that all things possess one will and, indeed, are this one will. . . ” (AOM [1879] 5; also GS 99, 127).

In that rejection of Schopenhauer’s doctrine of will, Nietzsche sounds like one come down to earth and science. Nietzsche comes closest to such an outlook at this stage of his development, but in another of his rejections of doctrines of Schopenhauer, and Kant, we see his enduring bent of mind, which is not to stand with level-headedness, sound science, and close philosophical analysis. Rather, his stand is: Recall extravagant metaphysical ideas and the criticisms that have been made of them in the history of philosophy. Insinuate that he is siding with the criticisms and yet that he is a critic transcending them. Treat the world and comprehensions of it in philosophy as most truly explicable as products of human psychology (cf. Pippin 2010).

Here is Nietzsche setting aside a grand Kantian distinction in “Appearance and the Thing in Itself” (cf. BT 87). After recalling the fate of the distinction in Hegel and Schopenhauer, he calls on “science” to vindicate his own mythic rendition of reality. “With all these conceptions the steady and laborious process of science, which will one day celebrate its greatest triumph in a history of the genesis of thought, will in the end decisively have done; for the outcome of this history may well be the conclusion: That which we now call the world is the outcome of a host of errors and fantasies which have gradually arisen and grown entwined with one another in the course of the overall evolution of the organic being, and are inherited by us as the accumulated treasure of the entire past – as treasure: for the value of our humanity depends upon it.” (HH I 16; also 9–11, 18–19; GS 54)

Nietzsche opens that aphorism with this statement: “Philosophers are accustomed to station themselves before life and experience – before that which they call the world of appearance – as before a painting that has been unrolled once and for all and unchangeably depicts the same scene . . . .” It is reasonable that he does not want to retain the name and concept world of appearance, for he wants to deny the distinction between that world and a realm of things as they are apart from perception and theoretical reason. Many of us today call the single world that is: the world. That was not what Nietzsche selected to replace world of appearance. He opts for life and experience. Kant’s world of appearance was the world from which the mind makes experience, geometry, and scientific law appropriate to that world. Nietzsche objects to the idea that there is a world, a knowable world, that “once and for all and unchangeably” is the same single thing it is. In lieu of world is life, and of this he writes: “The picture of life – The task of painting the picture of life, however often poets and philosophers may pose it, is nonetheless senseless: even under the hands of the greatest of painter-thinkers all that has ever eventuated is pictures and miniatures out of one life, namely their own – and nothing else is even possible. Something in course of becoming cannot be reflected as a firm and lasting image, as the ‘the’, in something else in course of becoming” (AOM 19; also 114 and WS 171).

Nietzsche does speak of the world. He speaks of our judgments about the world. However, it is not truths reported in judgments that is basis of judgments. In his view, it is the judge, the one pronouncing judgment, wanting to appear as striving for truth that is the root of devotion to truth and root of intellectual conscience (AOM 26, 33, 90; HH I 629–37; UM 86-93, 145; cf. D 248). Even more important than truth, the judge. Technique: Replace straight thought about the world and our situation in it with a story of how culture has brought about the appearance that such thought is straightly what it is about. Trump reason with psychology, the world with the human being, and truth with justice (HH I 636¬–37; D 539; GS 76, 109, 112).

Trump metaphysics with biology. The principle that there are things having in themselves something in virtue of which they are the self-identical things they are, different from some other things, is a principle that evolved from the lower organisms. The distinctions among different substances are the different relations they have to organisms. “Belief . . . in identical things is . . . a primary, ancient error committed by everything organic. . . . [Metaphysics is] the science that treats of the fundamental errors of mankind – but does so as though they were fundamental truths” (HH I 18; also 10; GS 110, 111).

Notice that the predicament of an individualist who is also a determinist—such as Nietzsche—is made less acute by absence of same things and same actions. Uniqueness of the individual is guaranteed without the bright possibility of different human actions upon same conditions and without the dark possibility of same human actions upon same conditions.

There is an ancient enduring doctrine in philosophy that reason can be kept from truth by interference from feeling and preferences; therefore guard against this subversion. Nietzsche slides from that sound wariness to doubtfulness that reason can attain truth not beguiled by human need and utility (HH I 32, 131, 146, 227, 517, AOM 32, 50, 98; D 543; GS 110). He does, however, hold to the idea that we (true intellectual sorts) have some true needs, and one of them is a need for truth, which only impartial critical and experimental reason could possibly win (HH I 22, 633–35; D 270, 424, 432; GS 2). Moreover, skepticism not subject to experimental test wins nothing (GS 51).

In Human Nietzsche was at a phase more welcoming of “science,” “scientific philosophy,” and “philosophical science” than in his earlier or later phases. He speaks of science getting us closer “to the true nature of the world and to a knowledge of it” (HH I 29; also 38, 27; D 270). Even here though, in 1878, he depreciates the ability of science, mathematics, and logic to reach important truth. Nietzsche was himself not well versed in the hard sciences nor in mathematics beyond high school geometry. (He had high school physics and opened some biology books eventually; he alludes to chemistry and geology in his writings.) “Science furthers ability, not knowledge. – The value of having for a time rigorously pursued a rigorous science does not derive precisely from the results obtained from it: for in relation to the ocean of things worth knowing these will be a mere vanishing droplet. But there will eventuate an increase in energy, in reasoning capacity, in toughness of endurance; one will have learned how to achieve an objective by the appropriate means. To this extent it is invaluable, with regard to everything one will afterward do, once to have been a man of science” (HH I 256; cf. 251, 635, WS 4; earlier, BT 74–75, 82, 85–88, and TL).

More important than the results of science, the practice? No, the preceding passage was written by a philosopher living in the nineteenth century, in the midst of enormous scientific and technological advancement decade after decade. Nietzsche recognized the great utility of modern science, though he inveighed against making utility its aim (HH I 6, 38; D 41, 195; GS 12, 37). Modern science has delivered truth, which is the proper aim of science. This it does not by the lifetime work of the individual scientist, necessarily narrowly channeled for solid contribution, rather by accretion of such narrow contributions across generations (D 547; GS 46).

Error regarding life necessary to life. [An error concerning life, which error is necessary for life] – Every belief in the value and dignity of life rests on false thinking . . . . [He who has] succeeded in encompassing and feeling within himself the total consciousness of mankind . . . would collapse with a curse on existence – for mankind has as a whole no goal . . . . If in all he does he has before him the ultimate goallessness of man, his actions acquire in his own eyes the character of useless squandering. . . . / In mitigation. – But will our philosophy not thus become a tragedy? Will truth not become inimical to life . . . ? A question seems to lie heavily on our tongue and yet refuses to be uttered: whether one could consciously reside in untruth? Or, if one were obliged to, whether death would not be preferable? For there is no longer any ‘ought’; for morality, insofar as it was an ‘ought’, has been just as much annihilated by our mode of thinking as has religion. Knowledge can allow as motives only pleasure and pain, utility and injury: but how will these motives come to terms with the sense for truth? (HH I 33–34; cf. 6, 22; GS 1, 7, 110, 121)

With truth and knowledge in significant opposition to life, its value, and the values it requires, there is no morality with oughts beyond is. Furthermore, there is no given goal for humanity as a whole, so adopting individual goals supporting that sort of goal is not a source for external, given direction in which actions among possible actions one should take.

Mankind as a whole has no goal, and mankind is not the goal of nature. Truth is not always something salutary and useful to man. “To determine that a plant makes no contribution to the treatment of sick human beings is no argument against the truth of the plant” (D 424). Nietzsche goes on to suggest “that truth, as a whole and interconnectedly, exists only for souls that are at once powerful and harmless, and full of joyfulness and peace (as was the soul of Aristotle), just as it will no doubt be only such souls capable of seeking it . . .” (D 424; cf. Spinoza at GS 37). Nietzsche is on to some truth here. I observe, however, that determining that a plant makes no contribution to the treatment of human beings does contribute to the overall goal of finding plants that are curative. Mankind’s knowledge, especially in scientific integration, can make mankind the goal of nature.

Error of life regarding itself runs deep, according to Nietzsche. In an individual organism, including the individual human, what appears to be teleological action is not action due to final causes, but is entirely the result of efficient causes. That we feel hunger is not due to a desire of the organism to sustain itself, not due to that end or any other end. Hunger in an organism appears to it as not connected with antecedents or consequents. It appears as something isolated, such as the isolation envisioned in the concept freedom of the will. “Belief in freedom of will is a primary error committed by everything organic . . .” (HH I 18; also 38; cf. D 6, 148; see also Small 2005, 69). Similarly, in The Gay Science (1882), Nietzsche writes that it is a self-deception to “conceive reason as a completely free, self-originated activity” (GS 110).

Value is not in the world. Value is from those who thoughtfully sense the world, who create the world that concerns human beings (GS 301). “It is not the world in itself, it is the world as idea (as error) that is so full of significance, profound, marvelous, and bearing in its womb all happiness and unhappiness” (HH I 29; cf. D 76, 148). We who will to value bear the pearls within us as waves seeking treasures on the shore (GS 310; also 59, 324, 342; D 102). Even more important than value, the weight-giving (HH 177; cf. 629). (Cf. Clark 1998, 47–73.)

Nietzsche was familiar prior to HH with the egoisms of Hobbes, Spinoza, Stirner, and La Rochefoucauld (Brobjer 2008; Safranski 2002). Nietzsche held to psychological egoism in HH. The good for each agent is what the agent sees as useful to his self-preservation (HH 103). This is a thesis of how people are and cannot otherwise be; it is not a normative egoism. The challenge for the thesis of psychological egoism is to show that cases in which behavior appears to be unselfish are actually selfish.

A soldier willing to die for his country or a mother who deprives herself for the sake of her child would seem not egoistic. “Is it not clear that in . . . these instances man loves something of himself, an idea, a desire, an offspring, more than something else of himself, that he thus divides his nature and sacrifices one part of it to the other?” (HH I 57; also 138). The ascetic is a partisan to parts of himself warring with other parts of himself (HH 137, 141; cf. D 215). Amelioration of the suffering of others relieves one of any pain one may feel at the sight of the suffering and gives one the satisfaction of exercising power (HH I 103; also 133). Furthermore, virtues such as prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice would be abolished if egoism were abolished. No vanity, no virtues (WS 285).

“The struggle for pleasure is the struggle for life. Whether an individual pursues this struggle in such a way that people call him good, or in such a way that they call him evil, is determined by the degree and quality of his intellect” (HH I 104; cf. 99 and AOM 91). Knowledge is pleasurable mainly because it brings consciousness of one’s strength, its acquisition can be a victory over one’s former conceptions, and it can make one feel superior to other people (HH I 252). Causing others to suffer, which is called “evil,” is not basically about those others; it is selfish in that it is exciting, sometimes sweet revenge, and it gives one a feeling of power and ascendancy (HH I 103; further, D 18, 30).

Nietzsche takes egoism as desirable, as normative, even in HH. “Let us work for our fellow men, but only to the extent that we discover our own highest advantage in this work: no more, no less. All that remains is what it is one understands by one’s advantage; precisely the immature, undeveloped, crude individual will understand it most crudely” (HH I 95). Such admonitions are out of order if everyone simply does seek his or her own advantage. Urging better understanding of what is one’s advantage is also out of order. If other motives outweigh improvement of understanding what is one’s advantage, then they do, and they are selfish motives. Psychological egoism is an unstable position. Nietzsche lets go of it as absolutely general, beginning with his next book. (See also Abbey 2000, 37–39; and Clark and Leiter 1997, xxiv–xxv.)

“‘There are so many days that have not yet broken’. –Rig Veda”. That is the epigram Nietzsche placed at the fore of Daybreak – Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality (1881). The obligatory force of moral judgment (e.g. in Kant) and moral feeling (e.g. in Schopenhauer) are at odds with the obligatory force of reason. The foundations of the former obligatory force are all defective. We need to “construct anew the laws of life and action,” and for this we should take our foundation-stones from the “sciences of physiology, medicine, sociology, and solitude. . . . It is from them that the foundation-stones of new ideals (if not the new ideals themselves) must come” (D 453; cf. HH I 37).

Moralities can be false in two ways. Motives for actions can be other than the moral ones people claim for them. That is one kind of falseness, and Nietzsche sees a lot of it. Another is to base morality on false premises. Where motives are genuinely moral, as designated in past and present moralities, the base premises are false. True, some of the things that have been regarded as immoral ought to be avoided, and some of the things that have been regarded as moral ought to be done. But this is so for reasons other than those that have hitherto been adduced (D 103).

Some of the old ideals are wrong. Their valence is conferred inversely, or the weights given them are too much compared to weights given to other possible ideals. The feeling rated positively and called humility by Christianity could be rated negatively and called cowardice by another custom (D 38).

The right valence and balance is found by the feeling of power and its lack (D 23). The feeling of power and its lack is the cipher of religions (D 65), of praising or blaming after wars won or lost (D 140), of the pleasantness of being a banker (D 205), of ecstatic self-sacrifice (D 215). The feeling of power is a factor beyond utility and vanity in national decisions for war (D 189, 360). The feeling of power is an inducement to look to distant goals beyond direct consequences to others or to oneself (D 146). The feeling of power is the first effect of happiness (D 356, 146).

Men may have their needs and desires fulfilled; they may have health, food, housing, and entertainment. Yet they remain unhappy if they lack power in the soul. They may lose everything, yet be almost happy, if they retain that power. Nietzsche quotes Luther: “‘Let them take from us our body, goods, honor, children, wife: let it all go—the kingdom [Reich] must yet remain to us!’” (D 262; also 206).

Where happiness is, there is “the feeling of power: this wants to express itself, either to us ourselves, or to other men, or to ideas or imaginary beings. The most common modes of expression are: to bestow, to mock, to destroy—all three out of a common basic drive” (D 356; also 146).

The drive for the feeling of power, like all drives, has no moral valence. In itself it is neither good nor evil. It acquires moral rating “only when it enters into relations with drives already baptized as good or evil or is noted as a quality of beings the people has already evaluated and determined in a moral sense” (D 38; also 110, 35, and GS 21).

In The Gay Science benevolence is ciphered by the feeling of power. Benefactors whose temperament is irritable and who are covetous of the feeling of power find pleasure in lording their power over the beneficiary. Proud natures, by contrast, are often hard and not obliging towards those who suffer and are broken; proud natures delight in unbroken persons who could become their equals, worthy contestants for power; towards these, the proud are more obliging (GS 13; also 118; D 133).

There is something Nietzsche presupposes to be good, and noble too. A man who “flees from himself, hates himself, does harm to himself—he is certainly not a good man” (D 516). One should be benevolently inclined towards oneself. Therefore, reject allegedly virtuous benevolence towards others in which one would “live in others and for others” (D 516). One who “flees from himself, hates himself, and does harm to himself” is not benevolently inclined towards himself. Therefore, one who is benevolent towards others so as to “live in others and for others” cannot be virtuous by that (contra Comte, D 132; see also GS 119).

Nietzsche continues in GS to render some occasions of putative self-sacrifice, such as that of martyrs, as for the self, for the self not to part from its feeling of power (GS 13). Still, at least in some other cases, he sees some degree of genuine self-sacrifice. Industriousness, obedience, and justice are praised by society as moral virtues insofar as these virtues benefit others and prevent an agent from applying “his entire strength and reason to his own preservation, development, elevation, promotion, and expansion of power” (GS 21).

Does Nietzsche hold to the ancient “medical formulation of morality” captured by the dictum “virtue is the health of the soul”? No. To get closer to Nietzsche’s mark, one would need to at least change the dictum to read “‘your virtue is the health of your soul’. For there is no health as such, and all attempts to define such a thing have failed miserably. Deciding what is health even for your body depends on your goal, your horizon, your powers, your impulses, your mistakes and above all on the ideals and phantasms of your soul. Thus there are innumerable healths of the body . . .” (GS 120). Furthermore, considering the usefulness of illness to quicken the development of one’s virtue, especially one’s “thirst for knowledge and self-knowledge,” Nietzsche would question “whether the will to health alone is not a prejudice, a cowardice . . .” (GS 120).

Notice the last word in the phrase “will to health alone.” Preserving one’s own health, of body and soul, remains a virtue in Nietzsche’s book, a virtue in competition with others.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In Part 2 we shall join Rand joining and overcoming Nietzsche on truth of will and value. Early Rand would be “joining” Nietzsche as he had developed his philosophy by the time of Zarathustra and beyond. To be sure, in her early works of fiction, there is no indication that Rand held a philosophy anywhere near the complexity of Nietzsche’s. He saw the world as thoroughly variable and as profoundly, antagonistically, and densely divided. Ditto for the intelligent individual. The views of the world and the individual exhibited in We the Living (1936), in Anthem (1938), and in Rand’s early notes for Fountainhead are far simpler and closer to common sense.

In our tracking of Rand joining Nietzsche, we shall not neglect views of Nietzsche saliently and squarely at odds with early Rand: his hostility to metaphysics, his materialism, his disdain for commercial productivity,* and his opposition to enduring moral values. Early Rand was at ease with metaphysics and “transcendental thinking” as part of sound thought and moral ideals. Early differences over metaphysics, materialism, and enduring moral values will be addressed later in this thread, either within “Truth of Will and Value” or within “Body, Instinct, Mind.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

References

Abbey, R. 2000. Nietzsche’s Middle Period. Oxford.

Brobjer, T.H. 2008. Nietzsche’s Philosophical Context – An Intellectual Biography. Illinois.

Clark, M. 1998. “On Knowledge, Truth, and Value: Nietzsche’s Debt to Schopenhauer and the Development of his Empiricism.” In Willing and Nothingness – Schopenhauer as Nietzsche’s Educator. C. Janaway, editor. 1998. Oxford.

Nietzsche, F. 1873. The Birth of Tragedy and Other Writings. (Includes “On Truth and Lying in a Non-Moral Sense” [1872].) R. Geuss and R. Speirs, trans. 1999. Cambridge.
——. 1873–76. Untimely Meditations. R.J. Hollingdale, trans. 1997. Cambridge.
——. 1878–80. Human, All Too Human. (Includes “Assorted Opinions and Maxims” and “The Wanderer and His Shadow.”) R.J. Hollingdale, trans. 1986. Cambridge.
——. 1881. Daybreak. R.J. Hollingdale, trans. 1997. Cambridge.
——. 1882. The Gay Science I–IV. J. Nauckhoff, trans. 2001. Cambridge.

Safranski, R. 2000. Nietzsche – A Philosophical Biography. S. Frisch, trans. Norton.

Schopenhauer, A. 1859 [1819]. The World as Will and Presentation (Vol. I). Aquila, trans. 2008. Pearson Longman.

Small, R. 2005. Nietzsche and Rée – A Star Friendship. Oxford.

Edited by Stephen Boydstun, 01 March 2010 - 06:20 AM.


#8 sbeaulieu

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 06:27 PM

Stephen,

You boggle the mind. That is a compliment. I'm guessing that you are a researcher as a profession?

~ Shane
A coin has three sides...

#9 Stephen Boydstun

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Posted 01 March 2010 - 06:21 AM

Shane with the burning blue, thank you.

My degrees were in physics and later in engineering. With my physics degree, I minored in philosophy. I attended some graduate school in physics and in philosophy at University of Chicago. While I was in engineering school, I worked as a co-op student at a locomotive factory. Upon graduation I decided to work in nuclear power. Out at the plant in the country, my coworkers in the technical staff liked to talk to me about what I was studying or reading at lunch. One bright engineer once asked me “Are you like going for all-encompassing knowledge?”

Well, I definitely never stopped learning. I am retired now from commercial work, but this other continues, this long keeping up with science and learning philosophy, not a precious bit to be imprecise or lost.

#10 Stephen Boydstun

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Posted 01 March 2010 - 06:45 AM

Truth of Will and Value

Part 2 – Zarathustra and Beyond

~Rand 1929–38~

Ayn Rand discovered Nietzsche in 1921–22, her first year of college. She read Thus Spoke Zarathustra and “most of the rest of Nietzsche’s work, ‘everything that was translated in Russia’” (Rand quoted in Milgram 2007, 24). Russian translations of Nietzsche’s work had begun to appear in 1898. “By 1911 all his major works were available in Russian, but some translations were seriously flawed, or the censor had mandated excisions” (Rosenthal 2002, 29).

Shoshana Milgram reports that Rand was opposed to ideas in The Birth of Tragedy before she came to America in 1926. The first books Rand bought in the United States were English translations of Beyond Good and Evil, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and The Anti-Christ. “She marked up her new copies to indicate her favorite passages” (Milgram 2007, 24). I would not conclude that a writer, ever watching for material to assimilate into compositions one way or another, would underline only passages that were her favorites.$

Rand began working on her first novel We the Living in 1929. She wrote Anthem in the summer of 1937. She had begun making notes for The Fountainhead by the end of 1935 and began its writing in 1938 (Milgram 2004, 3–4; 2007, 5; Mayhew 2005a, 28).

Let me repeat that first title: We the Living. What does that mean? It means we not snuffed out by the Red boot, but it means more. It means life, undefeated. “She had known something which no human words could ever tell and she knew it now. She had been awaiting it and she felt it, as if it had been, as if she had lived it. Life had been, if only because she had known it could be, and she felt it now as a hymn without sound, deep under the little hole that dripped red drops into the snow, deeper than that from which the red drops came. A moment or an eternity—did it matter? Life, undefeated, existed and could exist.” (WL 446)

In 1922 after five years of revolution and civil war, the Argounova family in We the Living returns from the Crimea to Petrograd in a boxcar. In all the mud, fear, crudeness, and destitution of this city in those days, Kira Argounova, age 18, returns to Rand’s fond city, with the thought “Isn’t it wonderful!” (WL 23). She is wearing homemade wooden sandals. She smiles at the greeting of an old friend, the bell of a tram outside the station and smiles at the adventure of life before her. At the train station exit door, there is a poster with welcoming words above a rising sun, “Comrades! We are the builders of a new life!” (WL 22).

As a child, Kira had read a story about a conquering Viking who respects neither throne nor altar. This story was Kira’s favorite, high above all others. This conqueror is never defeated. At the end of the story, looking over a city he had conquered, the Viking raises a goblet of wine and speaks: “To life, which is a reason unto itself” (40–41).

Kira had entered life, not with head bowed in religious awe, nor with “a cold skin crying for the warmth of the herd. Kira Argounova entered it with the sword of a Viking pointing the way . . .” (WL 42–43). The sword-point of the Viking in the childhood story is the point to which he looks no farther, “but there was no boundary for the point of his sword” (WL 40).

Kira did not aspire to be a Viking, though the line of her mouth when silent “was cold, indomitable, and men thought of a Valkyrie with lance and winged helmet in the sweep of battle” (WL 36). She did not aspire to be a warrior or Valkyrie; neither did she aspire to a “life of discipline and hard work and useful labor for the great collective” (WL 37).

“From somewhere in the aristocratic Middle Ages, Kira had inherited the conviction that labor and effort were ignoble” (WL 41). She made good grades, but she would not learn to cook or darn. She balked at piano exercises, but chose for her future “the hardest work and most demanding effort. She was to be an engineer” (WL 41). Over Kira’s bed was the picture of an American skyscraper. She imagined she would build houses of glass and steel, a white bridge of aluminum. She imagined “men and wheels and cranes under her orders, about a sunrise on the steel skeleton of a skyscraper” (WL 41).

“She knew she had a life and that it was her life. She knew the work which she had chosen and which she expected of life” (WL 41). And she worshipped and expected joy (WL 41–42).

When Rand first began working on this novel in 1929, its title was to be Airtight: A Novel of Red Russia. Clearly, one of the objectives of her novel was to exhibit the moral, economic, and technological inferiority of communist Russia in comparison to America and Europe. The main writing and rewriting of the novel was in 1933–35. By 1933 America was at the depth of its greatest economic depression. There was much clamoring from business and labor leaders for “economic democracy,” for the cartelization and socialization of major industries, and for central planning of production and consumption.

The picture of communist Russia that Rand was exposing in We the Living was as in the early 20’s. By the 30’s Russia was not Russia in the immediate aftermath of revolution and civil war. There were large construction projects underway over there, which were being touted by Stalin’s government to show the superiority of communism.

A scene in Rand’s novel retained through her first couple of drafts to May 1934 was one in which Kira’s lover Leo mentions to her that in New York there are six million inhabitants and that they have subways. “It must be delightful—a subway” Leo remarks to Kira who adores such things (Milgram 2004, 13). That was cut from the novel by November 1935. There are additional reasons for removing the passage, but I think one was that Stalin’s Russia had completed its first underground metro, in Moscow, in May 1935. Rand’s use of the lack of subways in cities of communist Russia as illustration of its technical stagnation would not have been effective by 1935.

The adoration of big cities and their technological advancement by Kira and her creator was at odds with Nietzsche. “In the desert the truthful have always dwelled, the free spirits, as the rulers of the desert; but in the cities dwell the well-fed, famous wise men—the draft animals” (Z II “On the Famous Wise Men”). “‘Oh Zarathustra, this is the big city: here you have nothing to gain and everything to lose’. / . . . . / [Zarathustra] looked at the big city, sighed, and kept silent for a long time. Finally he spoke thus: “‘I am nauseated too by the big city . . . . Here . . . nothing can be bettered, nothing can be worsened’” (Z III “On Passing By”).

In her love of city and technology, Rand would not find a kindred spirit in Nietzsche. Strikingly different between Nietzsche and Rand are the central objects of human creativity. Nietzsche’s foci are on creation in the arts, in philosophy, and in one’s own character. His lack of appreciation of creativity in technological realms always amazed me (okay, appalled me).

We have seen in Claiming Nobility that Nietzsche thought one desirable circumstance of aristocracy their “freedom from deadening labor.” Having to labor is nothing of which to be proud if one is aristocratic in nature. Similarly, Kira is introduced as a girl who does not perform menial work such as cooking and darning. Partly that trait is a contribution to setting the character Kira apart from women keeping to traditional, less-ambitious social roles. Mainly it is to set Kira above all who perform menial labor, to set her as of some sort of aristocratic spirit.

In Nietzsche’s view, only aristocratic society has ever advanced the type man. Such a society

believes in a long ladder of rank order and value distinctions between men and in some sense needs slavery. Without the pathos of distance as it grows out of the ingrained differences between stations, out of the way the ruling caste maintains an overview and keeps looking down on subservient types and tools, and out of this caste’s equally continuous exercise in obeying and commanding, in keeping away and below—without this pathos, that other, more mysterious pathos could not have grown at all, that demand for new expansions of distance within the soul itself, the development of states that are increasingly high, rare, distant, tautly drawn and comprehensive, and in short, the enhancement of the type “man,” the constant “self-overcoming of man” . . . . (BGE 257)

Rand’s Kira does not look at the workers who would build her skyscrapers and bridges as subservient types; she sees them simply as carrying out her orders. She does not look down on the building trades. Kira’s author gives no indication of agreeing with Nietzsche’s view that the importance of allowing the existence of individuals aristocratic in spirit is to improve the type man by self-overcomings in the souls of such men.

Nietzsche writes that a good and healthy aristocracy does not feel that it is a function serving the state or community (BGE 258). Kira and her author certainly agreed with that. But Rand’s Kira would not squarely concur when Nietzsche writes that it is right for there to be “sacrifice of countless people who have to be pushed down and shrunk into incomplete human beings, into slaves, into tools, all for the sake of the aristocracy” (BGE 258). She would not accept that society should exist “only as the substructure and framework for raising an exceptional type of being up to its higher duty and to a higher state of being” (BGE 258). Rand in We the Living adores Petrograd and the man who ordered its creation, but she does not adore it because it gave that man a higher state of being. Kira simply values great creations and their creators. She values the man-made, the making, and the makers, to the purpose of life and joy.

Rand writes, in the voice of the narrator,

It was St. Petersburg; the war made it Petrograd . . . . / It is a city of stone, and those living in it think not of stones brought upon a green earth and piled block on block to raise a city, but of one huge rock carved into streets, bridges, houses, . . . . / Petrograd was not born; it was created. The will of a man raised it where men did not choose to settle. An implacable emperor commanded into being the city and the ground under the city. . . . No willing hands came to build the new capital. . . . It rose by the labor of soldiers, . . . regiments who took orders and could not refuse to face a deadly foe, a gun or a swamp. (WL 226)

Nature makes mistakes and takes chances; it mixes its colors and knows little of straight lines. But Petrograd is the work of man who knows what he wants. / . . . Its facets are cut clearly, sharply; they are deliberate, perfect with the straight-forward perfection of man’s work. / . . . [Petrograd] was a monument to the spirit of man. / Peoples know nothing of the spirit of man, for peoples are only nature, and man is a word that has no plural. (WL 229)

There are a couple of things of Nietzsche in the preceding passages and a couple of things contrary to Nietzsche. I will discuss them in the sequel. Suffice to say for now, Kira did not want to be Peter the Great, and Rand did not want to be Nietzsche.

In the epilogue to his philosophical biography of Nietzsche, Rüdiger Safronski writes that “Nietzsche, more than virtually any other philosopher of his era, gave the word ‘life’ a new ring that was both mysterious and seductive. . . . Beyond the confines of academic philosophy, . . . in daily [European] intellectual life during the period 1890–1914, Lebensphilosophie (life philosophy) began its triumphant advance impelled by the reception of Nietzsche” (2000, 318–19). In Europe there was synergy between Bergson’s philosophy of life-force and Nietzschean Lebensphilosophie.

Dewey’s version of pragmatism, too, was highly organic. Lebensphilosophie “was a vitalist variant of pragmatism” (ibid., 320). The concept life appealed to in American pragmatism remained at the level of common sense. “Nietzsche, however, was an extremist—particularly as a philosopher of life—and he detested Anglo-Saxon banality as much as the Darwinist dogma of ‘adaptation’ and ‘selection’ in the evolution of life. For him, those concepts were projections of a utilitarian morality, which holds that adaptation is rewarded even in nature” (ibid., 322).

Different readers helped themselves to the different parts of Nietzsche they found attractive. There are martial elements in Nietzsche. At the beginning of WWI, “Nietzsche was already so popular that 150,000 copies of his Zarathustra were printed in a special edition handed out to [German] soldiers. . . . The distribution of Nietzsche’s book to these fighters conveyed the impression to the British, American, and French that Nietzsche was a warmonger” (ibid., 329).

In America the journalist H. L. Mencken had translated some of Nietzsche’s writings into English before the war. Mencken wrote a book about Nietzsche’s philosophy in 1908. Rand was a reader, around 1934, of something (unknown) by Mencken (Wright 2005, 209–10), but she read Nietzsche’s own texts, and in this she was fortunate. I have peeked into Mencken’s book on Nietzsche’s philosophy, and it is seriously flawed. He represents Nietzsche’s will to power as merely Schopenhauer’s will to life dressed up in different words. This is not simply false, but fantastically false.

Nietzschean strains voiced with favor in We the Living (1936) and in Anthem (1938) would likely set off warning bells with some readers. Such passages are to be found in these two works, and I shall examine them in the next installment.

(“Rand 1929–38” to be continued.)

References

Glatzer Rosenthal, B. 2002. New Myth, New World: From Nietzsche to Stalin. Penn State.

Mayhew, R. 2005a. Anthem ’38 & ’46. In Mayhew 2005b.
——., editor. 2005b. Essays on Ayn Rand’s Anthem. Lexington.

Milgram, S. 2007. The Fountainhead from Notebook to Novel. In Essays on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. R. Mayhew, editor. Lexington.
——. 2004. From Airtight to We the Living: The Drafts of Ayn Rand’s First Novel. In Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living. R. Mayhew, editor. Lexington.

Nietzsche, F. 1883–85. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. A. Del Caro, trans. 2006. Cambridge.
——. 1886. Beyond Good and Evil. J. Norman, trans. 2002. Cambridge.

Rand, A. 1959 [1936]. We the Living. Signet.

Safranski, R. 2000. Nietzsche – A Philosophical Biography. S. Frisch, trans. Norton.

Wright, D. 2005. Needs of the Psyche in Ayn Rand’s Early Ethical Thought. In Mayhew 2005b.


1 March 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
14 July 2011

$ - Correction: Dr. Milgram was not making an inference. She was reporting from a biographical interview in which Rand had stated not only that (i) those three works of Nietzsche, in English translation, were the first books she Rand bought when she got to America, but that (ii) she marked up her new copies to indicate her favorite passages.

Edited by Stephen Boydstun, 14 July 2011 - 10:32 AM.


#11 Stephen Boydstun

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Posted 14 March 2010 - 08:15 PM

Truth of Will and Value

Part 2 – Zarathustra and Beyond

~Rand 1929–38~ (continued)

“In self-trust, all the virtues are comprehended. . . . / Yes, we are the cowed,—we the trustless. . . . / Men are become of no account. Men in history, men in the world of to-day are bugs, are spawn, and are called ‘the mass’ and ‘the herd’.” –Emerson

It is clear early in We the Living that Kira and her author stand in favor of much that the Marxists refer to as “bourgeois.” We often associate the bourgeois with the Epicurean, and that Kira is not. She takes scant notice that “the voice of the flesh cries, ‘Keep me from hunger, thirst, and cold!’” (VS 33). She does not take avoidance of pain as the right limit of pleasure and desire (PD 3, 11). Her appetite for life is great. “If one loses that appetite, why still sit at the table” (WL 55). She is no dray horse, but a racing steed (WL 32).

With her hungry family, sharing their single wick of light, or standing in line for bread ration, Kira’s mind is fixed on her textbooks, particularly on her mathematics problems. At the Petrograd Technological Institute, where she is a first-year student, she does not pay attention to lectures of Bolshevik propaganda.

A student politician on the Communist side tries to enlist Kira in a Marxist Circle for young students “‘to learn the proper proletarian ideology, which we’ll all need when we go out into the world to serve the Proletarian State, since that’s what we’re all studying for, isn’t it?’ / ‘Did it ever occur to you’, asked Kira, ‘that I may be here for the very unusual, unnatural reason of wanting to learn a work I like only because I like it?’” (WL 61).

In her 1938 novella Anthem, set in a fictitious collectivist community (smaller and simpler than Kira’s historical setting), Rand has her protagonist Equality 7-2521 dare to choose, in the secrecy of his own mind, work he hopes to do when leaving the Home of the Students. He loves the Science of Things. He hopes he will be selected to be a scholar, but the authorities appoint him to be a street sweeper. The technology of his isolated community is very primitive in comparison to an earlier lost civilization. His people have candles, but not electricity. He discovers a subway tunnel from the ancient civilization, and he begins to experiment with electricity in secret at night. In his own community, each refers to himself as we. Of his secret work, he thinks: “We alone, of the thousands who walk this earth, we alone in this hour are doing a work which has no purpose save that we wish to do it.” In his love of the science of things, he is similar to Kira (and later, Roark and Galt); he is similar to her also in her “wanting to learn a work I like only because I like it;” and he is similar to her in standing against society made collectivist.

Kira is drawn into a student assembly for student elections. A speech from a student Party member barking the right purpose of the Technological Institute concludes: “‘We have outgrown the old bourgeois prejudice about the objective impartiality of science. Science is not impartial. Science is a weapon in the class struggle. We’re not here to further our own petty personal ambitions. We have outgrown the slobbering egoism of the bourgeois who whined for a personal career’”(WL 62; see Josephson 1991, 42, 51–56, 66–67, 77, 86–87, 97, 100, 184–202; Graham 1993, 88–93).

Where is Nietzsche on science in relation to the Red view and Kira’s “bourgeois” view? He would stand apart from either.

“Why do we even assume that ‘true’ and ‘false’ are intrinsically opposed? Isn’t it enough to assume that there are levels of appearance and, as it were, lighter and darker shades and tones of appearance – different valeurs, to use the language of the painters? Why shouldn’t the world that is relevant to us – be a fiction?” (BGE 34). Nietzsche would be hearing a theme and language close to his own in the words of the Red speech-maker, for Nietzsche writes that belief in “immediate certainties”—such as space, time, form, motion, and consciousness itself—is “a stupidity that does us little credit! In bourgeois life, a suspicious disposition might be a sign of ‘bad character’ and consequently considered unwise. But here with us beyond the bourgeois sphere with its Yeses and Noes, – what is to stop us from being unwise [?] . . .” (34; see also 15). Early Rand, not only late Rand, clearly rejected this radical relativism of Nietzsche.

Nietzsche held “it is no more than a moral prejudice that the truth is worth more than appearance” (BGE 34). We have seen in Part 1 that Nietzsche rejected Kant’s concept of the thing in itself (BGE 2, 16). There is no indication in early Rand that she accepted the Kantian idea that things in themselves are unknowable. In that she was in tune with Nietzsche. But Rand accepted that we can know things as they stand independently of our knowing them. She did not buy Nietzsche’s entire package against the idea of things as they are in themselves.

In the 1936 version of We the Living, Rand has a line to display the type of mind and interests of protagonist Leo, who is Kira’s beloved. “When his young friends related, in whispers, the latest French stories, Leo quoted Kant and Nietzsche.” This line is included in Robert Mayhew’s study “We the Living: ’36 and ’59” (2004, 192). In the 1959 edit, Rand replaced Kant with Spinoza in this line (WL 127). Dr. Mayhew naturally is struck by the clear indication that Rand did not hold her well-known antipathy to Kant in her early years.

I wonder if Rand was not very familiar with Spinoza in her early years, and had she been familiar with him, would have used him instead of Kant. She would have known a smidgen of Spinoza simply from Nietzsche’s BGE. Certainly she would have noticed Nietzsche’s opposition to Kant’s theoretical and practical philosophy. Naturally, one wonders why she did not use Aristotle in Leo’s line in ’36 or in ’59. Perhaps because there is a level of difficulty and sustained, rarified thought widely recognized to be found in Kant and Spinoza, but not so widely associated with Aristotle. She wanted to contrast the shallowness of surrounding people with the serious mind and inner life of Leo, an inner life far away from the crush of the Red boot on their society. Then again, perhaps she used Spinoza rather than Aristotle because the latter is not so strongly egoist in ethics as the former; the polis looms large in the ethics of Aristotle. Another possibility would be that in ’36 her knowledge of Aristotle was significantly less than her knowledge of Spinoza, and that in ’59 she wanted to keep to that knowledge context within which she had created the novel in ’36.

Rand’s use of Kant in her original 1936 version does not necessarily signal absence of serious disagreement with Kant at that time, but it surely does indicate an intensification of her contempt for Kant’s ideas as she learned more through the years. By the time of the reissue, in revision, Rand regarded Kant’s as the antipode of her philosophy in every fundamental. Under her later assessment of Kant’s system, she would not have used him in the line about Leo, however shy of perfection she took to be the character Leo in his original, undefeated state.

I mentioned in Part 1 that Nietzsche learned what he knew of Kant mainly through secondary sources. It is my understanding that Rand likewise learned what she knew of Kant’s theoretical philosophy mainly through secondary sources, rather than through sustained study of Kant’s often-turgid Critique of Pure Reason, Prolegomena, and so forth. (Kant’s ethical writings are more amenable to reading by the general educated public, especially Groundwork.) I conjecture that Rand’s knowledge of Kant’s theoretical philosophy was a lot thinner in 1936 than in 1959. There were competent English commentaries available by ’59, such as Kant’s Metaphysics of Experience by H. J. Paton (1936). As I recall, that is the commentary on the first critique that Leonard Peikoff recommended in the Kant portion of his History of Philosophy taped lectures in the early 70’s. Naturally, in her philosophically mature period, one expects Rand had extensive discussions about Kant with her younger studious friends, such and Peikoff and B. Branden.

Near the conclusion of We the Living, Leo is arrested by Andrei, who is truest and best of Communists. Andrei is Red hero of the battle for Melitopol (1920) and son of Red father exiled to death in Siberia in the failed revolution of 1905. He is Kira’s second-lover and main philosophical interlocutor. (Andrei is my favorite male principal in the novel; he reminds me of Cimourdain, my favorite character in Hugo’s Ninety-Three.) In the arrest scene, Andrei throws this line at Leo: “A tendency for transcendental thinking is apt to obscure our perception of reality” (quoted in Mayhew 2004, 192). Rand cut this line in the 1959 edit. I do not think early Rand would have intended this use of transcendental to be an allusion to its full meaning in Kant’s transcendental idealism. It might be in parallel to Kant or to the American transcendentalists, such as Emerson, in meaning only that the ideals of Leo are on a plane that have become in fact impossible in their society. At the same time, Andrei’s charge of “transcendental thinking” definitely means thinking that penetrates truth not conformed to present social reality and the warped reality to which the Communist state would coerce all thought.

Early Rand and her Kira stand solid for objectivity, which is attacked in the Red student speech. Rand’s 1938 protagonist in Anthem is given these lines: “All things come to my judgment, and I weigh all things, and I seal upon them my ‘Yes’ or my ‘No’. Thus is truth born. Such is the root of all Truth and the leaf, such is the fount of all Truth and the ocean, such is the base of all Truth and the summit. I am the beginning of all Truth. I am its end” (quoted in Mayhew 2005a, 39; see also Milgram 2005, 17–18).

This sounds subjectivist, like the ancient God-sayings it echoes and would replace. It might seem that Rand was climbing down, between 1936 and 1938, into the Nietzschean cavern of subjectivity or at least was stepping down into the Kantian ravine. I think, rather, she is only affirming in this passage that all judgment of truth is individual and that all truth we render from the world is for our own final value. Those lines in Anthem (in 1938; excised in ’46) are preceded by these: “It is my eyes which see, and the sight of my eyes grants beauty to the earth. It is my ears which hear, and the hearing of my ears gives its song to the world.” Something is seen, and with the subject, it is rendered beautiful. Something is heard, and with the subject, it is rendered song of existence. Something is given, and with its recognition, it is rendered truth.

Near the end of the fable Anthem, our true searcher announces: “And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men have come into being, the god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. / This god, this one word: / ‘I’.”

In We the Living, Rand has Kira and Andrei converse on atheism. They each easily say they do not believe in God. Kira goes on to say belief in God means lack of belief in life. Furthermore, “God—whatever anyone chooses to call God—is one’s highest conception of the highest possible. And whoever places his highest conception above his own possibility thinks very little of himself and his life. It’s a rare gift, you know, to feel reverence for your own life and to want the best, the greatest, the highest possible, here, now, for your very own” (WL 107). At the root of their selves, Kira and Andrei share belief in life.

In this atheist perspective, Rand had some in common with Nietzsche. “The Christian idea of God – . . . is one of the most corrupt conceptions of God the world has ever seen . . . . God having degenerated into a contradiction of life instead of its transfiguration and eternal yes! God as declared aversion to life, to nature, to the will to life! God as every slander against the ‘here and now’ . . .” (AC 18).

Nietzsche can concur with the Red student speech in the idea that the objective impartiality of science is a delusion (GS 107; cf. BT 15, 18; D 423, 431; contrast HH I 6, 264; AOM 206). He would deny, however, that the delusion of the objective impartiality of science is a delusion and error confined to a bourgeois outlook; it is wider and more deeply entrenched than that. “We simply have no organ for knowing, for ‘truth’: we ‘know’ (or believe or imagine) exactly as much as is useful to the human herd, to the species. . .” (GS 354; further 344, 112, 12). Science arises from the will to know, but this is a refinement of “the will to not know, to uncertainty, to untruth! . . . It is precisely the best science that will best know how to keep us in this simplified, utterly artificial, well-invented, well-falsified world, how unwillingly willing science loves error because, being alive, – it loves life!” (BGE 24; also 230; GS 110, 344).

Though science is ultimately error, Nietzsche concedes that, surprisingly, science has been able to discover things that stand up to examination by all investigators (GS 46). Science has proven capable of undercutting traditional moral values, and it may be able to deliver new ones (GS 7, 123; D 453). Nietzsche would see the Red goals as old ones in new robes. “The aristocratism of mind has been undermined at its depths by the lie of the equality of souls; and when the belief in the ‘privileges of the majority’ creates (and it will create) revolutions, do not doubt for a minute that it is Christianity, that it is Christian value judgments these revolutions are translating into blood and crimes!” (AC 43; also 57; BGE 202; BT 18).

As to Rand’s unity of personal ambition and egoism with pursuit of objective science, a unity parried in the Red student speech, Nietzsche would allow that pleasure in scientific knowledge is at least covertly tied to the pleasure of honor and bread (GS 123; BGE 6, 230; cf. D 195). Vanity is a promoter of the conviction of the scientist that all other values are secondary to truth, but unlike Rand, Nietzsche sees such conviction as self-abnegation, as self-alienation (GS 344; AC 54; BGE 206–7; cf. WS 179; D 547).

Nietzsche has science as removing value as something given by nature (GS 301; D 108). Rand’s Kira has science to her personal end of material construction, as value surpassing nature. In a line straight from Oscar Wilde, Kira comments, looking at a natural landscape, “How beautiful! It’s almost artificial” (WL 39).

Early in their relationship, Leo asks “‘Is it worthwhile, Kira?’ / ‘What?’ / ‘Effort. Creation. Your glass skyscraper . . .’.” Kira does not answer in her immediate response. Leo continues “‘What is worth it? What do you expect from the world for your glass skyscraper?’ / ‘I don’t know. Perhaps—admiration’. / ‘Well, I’m too conceited to want admiration . . .’” Leo replies (WL 74).

Notice that Kira replied tentatively “admiration” (Nietzsche’s “honor”), but not “bread” or “gold.” Rand is not out to glorify the capitalist economic system at this stage of her development, and in that, her vision expressed is not so far from Nietzsche as it will be later. In this novel, Rand portrays the narrower circumstance that private business and exchange free of government suppression make it possible for people to live. (See also Mayhew 2004a, 203–5.)

The excerpt I quoted from the Red student speech (WL 62) is nearly congruent with the rhetoric of extreme Left proponents of proletarian culture who were, in historical fact, campaigning to bend the overwhelmingly not-Red (“bourgeois”) Petrograd Polytechnical Institute to their political vision. The important difference is that Rand has the speaker decry “egoism of the bourgeois.” The proletarian-culture movement would have gotten “bourgeois” into names of their enemy, but in place of egoism, they would have capitalism with its profit-taking. Rand’s entry of egoism and the issue of choosing a career whose allure is not its service to the masses are artifice folded into the speech for expression of the novelist’s deeper fathom of the characters and their historical situation.

Nietzsche would find bizarre Rand’s linkage of noble egoism to the bourgeois. What egoism he sees in the bourgeoisie is small-minded. They are opposite what is of great and noble soul. They are among the little people, however much money they might make. Moreover, taking bourgeoisie in the inflated sense of anyone not Red, Nietzsche would regard few as of noble soul. It is unlikely he would count a young person aiming to become an engineer as of noble quality (BGE 254, 264; D 203–4, 206).

“Noble morality . . . is not the morality of ‘modern ideas’, the morality of ‘progress’ and ‘the future’.” Morality of noble souls is not the morality of slaves, and the latter morality includes the virtue of industriousness (BGE 260). “Slave morality is essentially a morality of utility. . . . The desire for freedom, necessarily belong to slave morals and morality. . .” (BGE 260; cf. Z IV “On the Higher Man”).

Nietzsche is not opposed to happiness, but for the noble soul and for the overman, happiness is not to be a modest happiness. It is to be “associated with a high state of tension” (BGE 260). It is to be so great as “to justify existence itself” (Z I “Zarathustra’s Prologue” 3). Nietzsche is not indifferent to dedication to one’s vocation. At least he thinks it not contemptible to have a vocation if it entails danger. Further, he thinks it commendable to have died of one’s dangerous vocation (6; see also Z IV “On Science”). He might have some affection for Kira by her passion for her career, although he does not think treasure for the higher sort of human being is to be found in the market place (Z IV “On the Higher Man” 1). Still, he has some respect for “a man who can conduct business, carry out a resolution, [or] be faithful to a thought.” He would warm to Kira’s attitude “I like that, I’ll take it for my own and protect it and defend it against everyone” (BGE 293).

The following exchange occurs between Kira and Andrei. The 1959 version (79) is the same as this 1936 version (92), except for omitting “of right or wrong, for no reason at all” (quoted in Milgram 2004, 39–40). (I am showing the two italics Rand added in ’59 because it makes the original meaning clearer.) Kira says to Andrei:

“I thought that Communists never did anything except what they had to do . . . .”

“That’s strange,” he smiled, “I must be a very poor Communist. I’ve always done only what I wanted to do.”

“Your revolutionary duty?”

“There is no such thing as duty. If you know a thing is right, you want to do it. If you don’t want to do it—it isn’t right. If it’s right and you don’t want to do it—you don’t know what right is—and you’re not a man.”

“Haven’t you ever wanted a thing for no reason of right or wrong, for no reason at all, save one: that you wanted it?”

“Certainly. That’s always been my only reason. I’ve never wanted things unless they could help my cause. For, you see, it is my cause.”

“And your cause is to deny yourself for the sake of millions?”

“No. To bring the millions up to where I want them—for my sake.” (WL 1936, 92)

In this exchange, Kira is speaking Nietzsche, though only so far. As her own philosophy matured, Rand halted this line of Nietzschean thought in her own philosophy even farther from Nietzsche. It is not only Nietzsche that Kira is here speaking, but Nietzsche’s life-long, more innocent book-companion Emerson, who writes: “He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. . . . Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to this or that; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it” (“Self-Reliance”).

Andrei’s words on his congruence of right, knowing it, and wanting to do it, is not Nietzsche, but Socrates. This was probably Rand’s own view in 1936. In her mature philosophy, she stays close to this position, but adds a feature that enables her to avoid traditional problems with it.

Andrei’s wanting to bring the millions up to his vision of their potential, for his own sake, is idiosyncratic for a Communist. Here the author enters marks into the character atypical of his historical situation in order to set the character as a spiritual peer of Kira and to set the stage for playing out what the author sees as the irreconcilable profound conflict of human values in that society. There is an eventual poignant irony to the initial seeming seamlessness in the soul of Andrei.

In this novel, Kira champions wanting something in a self-authored way, not as a means to some further end and not to satisfy some standard beyond itself. Her wanting to be an engineer and her wanting to have Leo are in this category. In her developed philosophy two decades later, Rand will have, for all human beings, only one such wanting, which will be at the level of meta-values.

Having Kira speak of her values standing “beyond right or wrong” is a nod to Nietzsche. Kira’s self-standing values are down-to-earth, not anything near Nietzsche’s transvaluation of values (BGE 260; GS 301; cf. D 102). Kira says: “I don’t want to fight for the people, I don’t want to fight against the people, I don’t want to hear of the people. I want to be left alone—to live” (WL 81). She does not strive to create new values beyond all previous ones; she seeks to create bridges and skyscrapers and a relationship with Leo.

I should mention that Kira does not attack notions of right and wrong per se. She embraces certain things as right and condemns certain things as wrong. “Who—in this damned universe—can tell me why I should live for anything but for that which I want” (WL 388). Come round to the view of Rand’s Kira, Andrei says “no one can tell men what they must live for. No one can take that right . . .” (WL 391). In a draft for Anthem 1938, Rand includes, in the protagonist’s paean to his new world of freedom to look on and touch the woman he loves, these lines: “We know we had no right to this. But our heart laughed at all rights” (quoted in Milgram 2005, 15). This utterance was under shadow of the rights and right and wrong he had known so far, but such a statement could be construed as endorsing the immoralist school if the setting were ignored. Rand lined it out in the draft.

Nietzsche had written: “The Ultimate Noblemindedness – So what makes a person noble? . . . The passion that overcomes the noble one is a singularity, . . . the use of a rare and singular standard and almost a madness; the feeling of heat in things that feel cold to everyone else; a hitting upon values for which the scale has not yet been invented; a sacrifice on altars for an unknown god . . .” (GS 55). I mentioned in Claiming Nobility that Kira is one who feels heat in things that everyone else feels cold. Rand’s protagonist of Anthem in 1938 says: “This moment is a sacrament which calls us and dedicates our body to the service of some unknown duty we shall know. Old laws are dead. Old tablets have been broken [by me]. A clear, unwritten slate is now lying before our hands [my hands]. Our fingers are to write” (quoted in Mayhew 2005a, 38). The talk of breaking old tablets is an echo of Nietzsche’s “On Old and New Tablets” (Z III). However, the moral principles Equality 7-2521 would replace are the only ones he had known in his society, not the only ones ever known. He is not on the brink of writing principles entirely different from ones known in the ancient times, the times of the reader. His task of moral philosophy is not the task of the God of Moses nor the task of radical and continual transvaluation and self-overcoming that Zarathustra gives to human creators.

“Over and beyond yourselves you must someday love! Thus learn first to love! And therefore you must drink the bitter cup of your love. / There is bitterness in the cup of even the best love: thus it causes longing for the overman, thus it causes your thirst, you creator! / Thirst for the creator, arrow and longing for the overman: speak, my brother, is this your will to marriage? / Holy I pronounce such a will and such a marriage. – / Thus spoke Zarathustra” (Z I “On Child and Marriage”)

Kira speaks of wanting, not willing. Nietzsche had moved from “feeling of power” to “will to power” as secret of life and value by the time of Zarathustra (see Transition, below). Kira does not speak of will to power. She does not speak of will. Rand’s 1938 protagonist in Anthem speaks of will. Rand gives him these lines: “And so I guard my will before I guard my life. Let no man covet my will and the freedom of my will” (quoted in Mayhew 2005a, 39).

(“Rand 1929–38” to be continued.)

References

Emerson, R. W. 1837 & 1841. The American Scholar & Self-Reliance. In Emerson – Essays and Lectures. Library of America.

Epicurus 341–271 B.C. Principal Doctrines & Vatican Sayings. In The Essential Epicurus. E. O’Connor, trans. Prometheus.

Graham, L. R. 1993. Science in Russia and the Soviet Union. Cambridge.

Mayhew, R. 2004a. We the Living: ’36 and ’59. In Mayhew 2004b.
——., editor. 2004b. Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living. Lexington.
——. 2005a. Anthem ’38 & ’46. In Mayhew 2005b.
——., editor. 2005b. Essays on Ayn Rand’s Anthem. Lexington.

Milgram, S. 2004. From Airtight to We the Living: The Drafts of Ayn Rand’s First Novel. In Mayhew 2004b.
——. 2005. Anthem in Manuscript: Finding the Words. In Mayhew 2005b.

Josephson, P. R. 1991. Physics and Politics in Revolutionary Russia. California.

Nietzsche, F. 1873. The Birth of Tragedy and Other Writings. R. Geuss and R. Speirs, trans. 1999. Cambridge.
——. 1878–80. Human, All Too Human. (Includes “Assorted Opinions and Maxims” and “The Wanderer and His Shadow.”) R.J. Hollingdale, trans. 1986. Cambridge.
——. 1881. Daybreak. Hollingdale, trans. 1997. Cambridge.
——. 1882 & 1887. The Gay Science I–IV & V. J. Nauckhoff, trans. 2001. Cambridge.
——. 1883–85. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. A. Del Caro, trans. 2006. Cambridge.
——. 1886. Beyond Good and Evil. J. Norman, trans. 2002. Cambridge.
——. 1888. The Anti-Christ. J. Norman, trans. 2005. Cambridge.

Rand, A. 1959 (1936). We the Living. Signet.
——. 1946 (1938). Anthem. In The Freeman 3(1).


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Transition – From “Feeling of Power” to “Will to Power”

In 1878 Nietzsche wrote: “That in which men and women of the nobility excel others and which gives them an undoubted right to be rated higher consists in two arts ever more enhanced by inheritance: the art of commanding and the art of proud obedience” (HH I 440). These arts together, Nietzsche finds noble.

He writes in 1881 that where happiness is, there is “the feeling of power: this wants to express itself, either to us ourselves, or to other men, or to ideas or imaginary beings. The most common modes of expression are: to bestow, to mock, to destroy—all three out of a common basic drive” (D 356; see also 146).

The drive for the feeling of power, like all drives, has no moral valence. In itself it is neither good nor evil. It acquires moral rating “only when it enters into relations with drives already baptized as good or evil or is noted as a quality of beings the people has already evaluated and determined in a moral sense” (D 38).

When it comes to morally permitting oneself a new desire, for a newly discovered pleasure, Nietzsche’s criteria are liberal. If what is opposed to the desire are merely practical obstacles or merely “people for whom we feel little respect—then the goal of the new desire dresses itself [and admirably so] in the sensation ‘noble, good, praiseworthy, worthy of sacrifice’, the entire moral disposition we have inherited thenceforth takes it into itself, adds it to the goals it already possesses which it feels to be moral” (D 110).

In The Gay Science (first four books – 1882), Nietzsche continued to craft an ideal of character called nobility, disdaining and mocking much of what is called moral character. Virtues are drives (GS 21). All our conscious understanding that seems sovereign over our competing drives is in truth only “the ultimate reconciliation scenes and final accounts” of unconscious warring, of unconscious dominations and submissions, among various drives (GS 333).

Once you had passions and named them evil. But now you have only your virtues; they grew out of your passions.
. . .
It is distinguishing to have many virtues, but it is a hard lot. And many went into the desert and killed themselves because they were weary of being the battle and battlefield of virtues. . . .
. . .
Look, how each of your virtues is greediest for the highest. It wants your entire spirit to be its herald . . . . (Z I “On the Passions of Pleasure and Pain”)

Upward flies our sense; thus it is a parable of our body, a parable of elevation. Such elevation parables are the names of the virtues.

Thus the body goes through history, becoming and fighting. And the spirit—what is it to the body? The herald of its fights and victories, companion and echo. (Z I “On the Bestowing Virtue”)1

In Daybreak Nietzsche had emphasized a feeling of power in human beings, a feeling that “has evolved to such a degree of subtlety that in this respect man is now a match for the most delicate gold-balance. It has become his strongest propensity; the means for creating this feeling almost constitutes the history of culture” (23). The feeling of power and its lack is the cipher of religions (65), of praising or blaming after wars won or lost (140), of the pleasantness of being a banker (205), of ecstatic self-sacrifice (215). The feeling of power is a factor beyond utility and vanity in national decisions for war (189, 360). The feeling of power is an inducement to look to distant goals beyond direct consequences to others or to oneself (146). The feeling of power is the first effect of happiness (356, 146).

Will to power is announced in Zarathustra, one year after Gay Science (I–IV). The role of feeling of power is taken over by will to power. “A tablet of the good hangs over every people. Observe, it is the tablet of their overcomings; observe, it is the voice of the will to power” (Z I “On a Thousand and One Goals”). Why the shift from feeling to will? One cluster of reasons might be as follows: Nietzsche may have been trying to increase the coherence and the depth of his basis for egoism and for rejection of altruism. To have a heavyweight theory of ethics in contention with Schopenhauer2 (Will1859 [1819]; Basis 1839), Darwin3 (Origin1859; Descent1871), and Spencer4 (Data1879), Nietzsche needed to get down to biology, the biology beneath psychology and back of human evolution.

Nietzsche had written that our experience of pleasure or pain and our feeling of will are results of an interpreting intellect, with most of this interpretation occurring subconsciously (GS 127; see also HH II, AOM 5). Beneath consciousness are drives competing against one another for dominance (GS 333). Would feeling for power be a plausible characterization of blind unconscious drives? Nietzsche had contended, contradicting Schopenhauer, that only intellectual animals can experience pleasure or pain (GS 127). What then of the blind animal vitalities composing our bodies and their resulting blind drives? Shall they be animated by a feeling of power? (Cf. Williams 2001, 15–16; Soll 1998, 101–2.)

I mentioned in Part 1 that Nietzsche had read favorably, in 1867, Julius Bahnsen’s Contribution to Characterology: With Special Regard to Educational Questions. In this work Bahnsen “followed Schopenhauer closely but at the same time developed his philosophy in a more individual direction by emphasizing that true reality is not one general will as Schopenhauer claimed but instead was many contradicting wills that constitute human beings whose inner life therefore is always in turmoil” (Brobjer 2008, 48).

Nietzsche had read, in 1876 and 1883, a renovation of Schopenhauer’s system that made it less metaphysical. That was Philipp Mainländer’s Philosophy of Redemption (1876),5 in which the author claimed that throughout nature “instead of one metaphysical will, there are many individual (and immanent) wills that continually struggle with one another” (Brobjer 2008, 69). That is an opening for an individualistic theoretical employment of will in nature, in nature more widely than in intellectual animals such as man.

In 1881 and 1883, Nietzsche studied Wilhelm Roux’s The Struggle of the Parts in the Organism (1881), in which it is proposed that “organs, tissues, cells, and even molecules of organic matter are found in an unceasing struggle for existence with one another for food, space, and in the utilization of external stimulation” (Moore 2002, 37). Life is here characterized by continual excessive growth of parts and by self-regulation which checks, orders, and selects excesses for the functional requirements of the whole. Nietzsche transmutes self-regulation into mastery over subservient parts in the organism (ibid. 43–44, 81; Gayon 1999, 169–70). (See Brobjer 2008, 85–87, for other possible sources or triggers for Nietzsche’s fastening upon the will-to-power idea in 1880–83.)

From their will to power, the wisest men make valuations, then seat them “solemn and cloaked” on a skiff which is launched upon the river that is the people. Now, wisest ones, “the river carries your skiff along . . . .

The river is not your danger and the end of your good and evil, you wisest ones; but this will itself, the will to power—the unexhausted begetting will of life.

But in order that you might understand my words on good and evil, I also want to tell you my words on life and the nature of all that lives.

I pursued the living, I walked the greatest and smallest paths in order to know its nature.

With a hundredfold mirror I captured even its glance, when its mouth was closed, so that its eyes could speak to me. And its eyes spoke to me.
. . .
Wherever I found the living, there I found the will to power; and even in the will of the serving I found the will to be master.
. . .
And this secret life itself spoke to me: “Behold,” it said, "I am that which must always overcome itself.

To be sure, you will call it will to beget or drive to a purpose, to something higher, more distant, more manifold: but all this is one, the one secret.
. . .
[Schopenhauer] who shot at truth with the words ‘will to existence’ did not hit it . . . .
. . .
Only where life is, is there also will; but not will to life, instead—thus I teach you—will to power!

Much is esteemed more highly by life than life itself; yet out of esteeming itself speaks—the will to power!”—

Thus life once taught me, and from this I shall yet solve the riddle of your heart, you wisest ones.

Truly, I say to you: good and evil that would be everlasting—there is no such thing! They must overcome themselves out of themselves again and again. (Z II “On Self-Overcoming”)6

For Nietzsche valuing is an expression of organic will to power. Organisms operate by the principle of will to power. Correct valuing for human beings is continual experimental overcoming of present expressions of will to power (held up and cloaked as correct, temporarily accepted as morally right), superseding them with new expressions of will to power. Virtue is an ascent of this sort of self-overcoming. For Nietzsche life is the pursuit that is will to power. By the time of Zarathustra, human life is a definite version of that pursuit. Nonetheless, as always, Nietzsche will not have it that the character of human life is sufficiently fixed to specify values and virtues valid for all men across all the days of the species (GS 335, 120; D 560).

A few years earlier (1879) Nietzsche had criticized Schopenhauer for taking will to designate a simple, single human state and for imputing will, in a blind form, to nature more generally (HH II, AOM 5). Nietzsche is now ready to make such a wider imputation of will, at least to all of organic nature, provided we see this will not as will to life, but as will to power. Also unlike Schopenhauer, we are to take each organism to have its own isolated will; it is not the case that apparently individual wills are only phenomenal images of a single noumenal will in nature.

Section 61 of the fourth book of Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Presentation (I) is titled “The Egoism Inherent in Every Being.” Each person naturally

wants everything for himself, wants to possess everything, at least to hold sway over it, and would annihilate whatever opposes him. . . . The whole of nature beyond him, thus also all other individuals, exist only in presentation to him, he is always conscious of them only as presentation to him, thus merely indirectly and as something dependent on his own essence and existence; for with the loss of his consciousness the world is necessarily lost for him as well . . . . Every cognizant individual is thus in truth, and finds himself to be, the entire will for life, or the very in-itself of the world . . . . Every individual . . . has regard for his own existence and well-being before any other, indeed, in the natural standpoint, is ready to sacrifice all else to it, is ready to annihilate the world, just to maintain its own self . . . . This disposition is the egoism that is essential to everything in nature. (391–92)

The one world-will which is in oneself wholly and completely is also in countless other individuals in the same manner. Conflict abounds. Egoism so conceived has brought about the great tyrants and evildoers, and it brings about always the war of all against all “as soon as any mass of people is released from all law and order” (393).

In Schopenhauer’s view, the will for life is affirmed in the primary, simple way when one’s own body maintains itself. The sex drive, too, is an affirmation of one’s will for life, although, the consequent propagation is not.

The will of one person “encroaches upon the boundary of another’s affirmation of will in that the individual either destroys or injures the very body of the other or compels the forces belonging to the other’s body to serve its will instead of the will making its appearance in the other’s body” (394). These conflicts are known by the word wrong and they are felt as wrongdoing (394–95). Examples: cannibalism, murder, “intentional mutilation, or mere injury to another’s body, indeed any blow, . . . subjugation of other individuals, in forcing them into slavery, and in attack upon the property of others, which, so far as the latter is regarded as the fruit of their labor, is in essentials the same in kind as the former wrong [slavery] and relates to it in the way mere injury relates to murder” (395–96).

Nietzsche, his new and distinctive concept of life now set, has Zarathustra muse, among some old broken tablets, formerly held holy:

“Thou shalt not rob! Thou shalt not kill!” . . .

But I ask you: where in the world have there ever been better robbers and killers than such holy words?

Is there not in all life itself—robbing and killing? And for such words to have been called holy, was truth itself not—killed?

Or was it a sermon of death that pronounced holy what contradicted and contravened all life? —Yes my brothers, break, break for me the old tablets! (Z III “On Old and New Tablets”)

Nietzsche completed the final part of Zarathustra (Part IV) in early 1885. He had lately been studying Biological Problems (1884) by the Anglo-German zoologist William Henry Rolph, here writing on evolution and associated ethics. When nutritional resources are abundant,

the life-struggle is no longer waged for existence, it is no struggle for self-preservation, . . . rather, a struggle for an increase in one’s acquisitions. . . . It is constant, it is eternal; it can never be extinguished, for there can be no adaptation to insatiability. . . . Furthermore, the life-struggle is then no defensive struggle, but rather a war of aggression. . . . But growth and reproduction and perfection are the consequences of that successful war of aggression. . . .While the Darwinists hold that no struggle for existence takes place where the survival of the creature is not threatened, I believe the life-struggle to be ubiquitous; it is first and foremost precisely such a life-struggle, a struggle for the increase of life, but not a struggle for life! (97; quoted in Moore 2002, 53)

For Rolph’s principle of insatiability Nietzsche substitutes his own principle, will to power. “The wish to preserve oneself is a sign of distress, of limitation of the truly basic life-instinct, which aims at the expansion of power and in so doing often enough risks and sacrifices self-preservation. . . . / . . . . The struggle for survival is only an exception, a temporary restriction of the will to life; the great and small struggle revolves everywhere around preponderance, around growth and expansion, around power and in accordance with the will to power, which is simply the will to life.” (GS V 349; also BGE 13, 259)

I mentioned in Parallels and Influence that Nietzsche read Guyau’s A Sketch of Morality without Obligation or Sanction in 1885, the year it was published. There were remarkable affinities between their ideas. In common background, they had knowledge of certain authors and currents in contemporary psychology, biology, and philosophy. In this 1885 work, Guyau was setting aside morality from religious faith, from Kantian duty, and from utilitarianism. He was investigating how far morality could be determined from a purely scientific view of the nature of life. There were differences between the two thinkers. Guyau had some training in and love for science; he prized modern, capitalistic life; and although his was a thoroughly individualistic vision, it was not an egoistic vision. Guyau’s life-philosophy exerted some influence on Nietzsche’s (unacknowledged) and a considerable influence on Bergson’s (acknowledged).

Concerning morality based on faith, Guyau writes that “the believer wants to believe without knowing.” Faith is a

renunciation of all personal initiative . . . . This kind of intellectual suicide is inexcusable, and that which is still more strange is the pretension to justify it, as is constantly done, by invoking moral reasons. Morality should command the mind to search without resting—that is to say, precisely to guard itself against faith. . . . In the domain of thought there is nothing more moral than truth; and when truth cannot be secured through positive knowledge, nothing is more moral than doubt. . . . We must therefore drive out of ourselves the blind respect for certain principles, for certain beliefs. We must be able to question, scrutinize, penetrate everything. (S 62–63; cf. BGE 46, 186; GS V 344, 347)

Concerning Kant’s precept

“Act in such a way that your maxim may become a universal law,” no sentiment of obligation whatever will attach itself, so long as there is no question of social life and the deep inclinations awakened by it. . . . / . . . . Will it be said that the universal law itself contains at bottom will—pure will? The reduction of duty to the will of law, which itself would still be a purely formal will, far from building up morality, seems to us to produce a dissolvent effect on the will itself. The will to do a certain deed cannot be based on any law which is not founded on the practical and logical value of the deed itself. (S 50)

There must be a specific valued object for pursuit to be morally praiseworthy. Without a specific object valued for its actual or potential uses, “we should no longer have courage to will and to merit; we do not use our will for the mere sake of willing” (S 32).

Guyau proceeds to lay out his positive moral theory with a preamble: “Scientific morality, in order not to include from its very beginning an inverifiable postulate, must be first individualistic. It should preoccupy itself with the destiny of society only in so far as it more or less includes that of the individual” (S 71–72).

To aim at a target is not to hit it, but the distribution of hits about it can show the center. “Where is the centre of the universal effort of beings towards which the strokes of the great hazard of things have been directed?” (S 73). Hedonists would say the aim is to minimize pain and maximize pleasure. That is certainly a typical direction of our desire, but it can be applied only

to the conscious and more or less voluntary acts . . . . Even those acts achieved in full consciousness have generally their beginning and first origin in dumb instincts and reflex movements. . . . The natural spring of action, before appearing in consciousness, must have already acted from underneath in the obscure region of the instincts. The constant end of action must primarily have been a constant cause of more or less unconscious movements. In reality, the ends are but habitual motive causes become conscious of themselves. . . . Every conscious desire, therefore, has first been an instinct [in the broad sense]. The sphere of finality coincides, at least in its centre, with the sphere of causality . . . . The problem: What is the end, the constant target, of action? becomes therefore, from another point of view, this problem: What is the constant cause of action? In the circle of life, the point aimed at blends with the very point from which the action springs. (S 74)

An exclusively scientific morality must, to be complete, admit that the pursuit of pleasure is only itself the consequence of the instinctive effort to maintain and enlarge life. The aim which, in fact, determines every conscious action is also the cause which produces every unconscious action. It is, then, life itself—life most intense and, at the same time, its most varied forms. From the first bound of the embryo in the womb of its mother, to the last convulsion of old age, every movement of the creature has, as cause, life in its evolution. The universal cause of our acts is, from another point of view, its constant effect and end. (S 75)

So far as the discipline of ethics can be a science, its task will be to articulate “the means of preserving and enlarging material and intellectual life,” and its laws “will be identical with the deepest laws of life itself” (S 75–76; further, 80–81). There is in us a cause which “operates as an aim, even before any attraction of pleasure; this cause is life, tending by its nature to grow and to diffuse itself, thus finding pleasure as consequence, but not necessarily taking it as an end in itself” (210–11). Life in its “aspiration towards incessant development . . . makes its own obligation to act by its very power of action” (211). Life makes also “its sanction by its very action; for, in acting, it takes joy in its own capacity” (213).

For Nietzsche we know that there is a deepest law of life, and that is will to power. Growth he sees as expansion of power (BGE 230, 259; GS V 349).

For Guyau the deepest laws of life are that it is nutritive and self-preservative and that it is fecundity (S 70, 75, 79, 209–10). Beyond nutrition and appropriation necessary for self-maintenance, there may accumulate superabundance capable of the expansion of life that is reproduction. This is a good for humans, as it is for all other life forms. Generation is an elevated intensity of life. Without sexual reproduction, the good that is man, with family and society, would not exist (82–83). “Individual life is expansive for others because it is fruitful, and it is fruitful by the very reason that it is life” (209–10).

Guyau does not think that scientific morality can disparage the tendency of modern higher classes to have fewer children (S 114), and he realizes that having children is in tension with creating intellectual works (83), but he thinks there is a “need of each individual to beget another individual; so much so that this other becomes a necessary condition of our being. Life, like fire, only maintains itself by communicating itself” (210). We find the same force of expansion with intelligence: “It exists in order to radiate” (210). Likewise with sensibility: We need to share our joys and sorrows. “It is our whole nature which is sociable. . . . [Life] cannot be entirely selfish, even if it wished to be. . . . Life is not only nutrition; it is production and fecundity” (210). “The purely selfish happiness of certain epicureans is an idle fancy, an abstraction, an impossibility. . . . Pure selfishness, . . . instead of being a real affirmation of self, is a mutilation of self” (212).

In this period (1885–86), Nietzsche made a few doodles in his notebooks concerning procreation and how it might be portrayed in terms of will to power, but these were not ideas sufficiently developed and secure for him commit to publication. Some of these jottings are included in the posthumous collection of his notes called The Will to Power. Nietzsche remarks in Beyond Good and Evil §36 that procreation and nutrition are “a single problem.” He seems to be following Ernst Haeckel or following Guyau following Haeckel: “‘Reproduction’, says Haeckel, ‘is an excess of nutrition and growth in consequence of which a part of the individual is created [as becoming another individual] independent in everything’” (S 82). Nietzsche’s single solution (explanation) for this “single” problem (phenomenon) is his ubiquitous efficacious force, the will to power.

Guyau included biological fecundity in his basic characterization of all life. For human life, this encompassed not only procreation, but intellectual fecundity and practical productivity (S 76, 183–84, 214).

In his career, Nietzsche moved from “feeling of power” as the driver of human psychology and behavior to “will to power” as driver of not only those realms, but of the biology beneath them. I think Nietzsche’s attempt to characterize all living activities as occasions of a will to power, a commanding-and-obeying, is false and highly contrived (BGE 13, 19, 22, 23, 36, 44, 226, 230, 259; GS V 349).

Notes
1. Lester Hunt (1991) has perceptively, gracefully, and critically treated Nietzsche’s idea of enmity of the virtues (pp. 81–89).
2. Cartwright 1998, 134–40; Higgins 1998, 158–68.
3. Gayon 1999, 158–73; Moore 2002, 21–34, 57–58; Small 2005, 181–94.
4. Moore 2002, 62–72; Small 2005, 163–80
5. In this title, I have translated Erlösung as Redemption because that is how the term is rendered by translators of Schopenhauer. However, it would also be reasonable to translate Erlösung as Deliverance. Schopenhauer and Mainländer were atheists and thought that death is the end of the individual. They thought of death as deliverance from the suffering pervasive in life.
6. There are helpful comments on this passage from Robert Pippin in the Introduction, pp. xxv–ix, of Z.

References

Brobjer, T. 2008. Nietzsche’s Philosophical Context. U of Ill Press.

Cartwright, D. 1998. Nietzsche’s Use and Abuse of Schopenhauer’s Moral Philosophy of Life. In Janaway 1998.

Gayon, J. 1999. Nietzsche and Darwin. In Biology and the Foundation of Ethics. J. Maienschein and M. Ruse, editors. Cambridge.

Guyau, J. 1885, 1890. A Sketch of Morality without Obligation or Sanction. G. Kapteyn, trans. 1898. Watts & Co.

Higgins, K. 1998. Schopenhauer and Nietzsche: Temperament and Temporality. In Janaway 1998.

Hunt, L. 1991. Nietzsche and the Origin of Virtue. Routledge.

Janaway, C. 1998. Willing and Nothingness: Schopenhauer as Nietzsche’s Educator. Oxford.

Moore, G. 2002. Nietzsche, Biology and Metaphor. Cambridge.

Nietzsche, F. 1878 & 1979. Human, All Too Human I & II. (Includes “Assorted Opinions and Maxims.”) R.J. Hollingdale, trans. 2001. Cambridge.
——. 1881. Daybreak. R.J. Hollingdale, trans. 1997. Cambridge.
——. 1882 & 1887. The Gay Science I–IV & V. J. Norman, trans. 2006. Cambridge.
——. 1883–85. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. A. Del Caro, trans. 2006. Cambridge.
——. 1886. Beyond Good and Evil. Horstmann and Norman, trans. 2002. Cambridge.
——. 1901. The Will to Power. W. Kaufmann, trans. 1967. Vintage.

Rolph, W. 1884. Biologische Probleme, . . . Entwicklung einer Rationellen Ethik. Englemann.

Schopenhauer, A. 1859 [1819]. The World as Will and Presentation (WWP I). R.E. Aquila, trans. 2008. Pearson Longman.

Small, R. 2005. Nietzsche and Rée: A Star Friendship. Oxford.

Soll, I. 1998. Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and the Redemption of Life through Art. In Janaway 1998.

Williams, L. 2001. Nietzsche’s Mirror: The World as Will to Power. Rowman & Littlefield.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(“Rand 1929–38” to be continued.)

Edited by Stephen Boydstun, 17 March 2010 - 06:08 AM.


#12 Stephen Boydstun

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 11:36 AM

Truth of Will and Value

Part 2 – Zarathustra and Beyond

~Rand 1929–38~ (conclusion)

Rand wrote Anthem (1938) in the summer of 1937. In her manuscript for Anthem, she continually tries to suit ideas of Nietzsche to her story, then scratches them out. Naturally, I wonder if she was not also, in some of those same strokes of the pen, writing down ideas of Nietzsche that she had seen attractive as truth, or at least promising as truth, then rejecting them as inadequate to her own grasp of the truth. Writing one’s ideas down and reading them helps one think better.

I should mention an interpretive issue concerning philosophy expressed in fiction that Rand finished and submitted for publication. In Fountainhead and Atlas, it is plain that philosophic views expressed by protagonists are those of the author at the time of final composition. What about We the Living (1936) and Anthem (1938)? These works were written before Rand was an established novelist. If you were writing a first novel, would you necessarily create protagonists whose express philosophic ideas were entirely held their creator? I think not, although the life courses one elects for protagonists and antagonists, with their given natures, would very likely express what the creator holds true. I take Rand’s protagonists in these first two published fictions to be always expressing Rand’s then-current view on express matters of philosophy.

In his community of origin, Equality 7-2521 had always loved the science of things. He also wants to know the meaning of things, the meaning of existence. He wants to know the secrets of nature, and he comes to suspect there is some important secret of human existence unknown to all. After fleeing his collectivist society, he comes upon a fine house and learns from its books many wonders of the advanced science of the ancient civilization. He discovers the word I. That is, he attains the concept I distinctly and firmly set.

He no longer writes “we” or “we alone” or “we alone only” in his journal to refer to himself. A new chapter begins. He writes: “I am. I think. I will. I am, for I know joy in living. . . . / I think, for I judge and choose my truth. . . . / I will, for I know my desires, and I am free in that which I desire. . . (A 1938, quoted in Milgram 2005, 18–19). (Cf. Descartes in Meditations II. “I am, I exist, that is certain. . . . / But what then am I? A thing which thinks. What is a thing which thinks? It is a thing which doubts, understands, affirms, denies, wills, refuses, which also imagines and feels.”)

With his fundamental discovery, Equality 7-2521 has become a Prometheus. He continues: “What must I say besides? These are the words. This is the answer. I stand here on the summit of the mountain. I lift my head and I spread my arms. This, my body and spirit, this is the end of the quest. I wished to know the meaning of things. I am the meaning” (A XI). There is one word “which can never die on this earth, for it is the heart of it and the meaning and the glory. / The sacred word: EGO” (A XII).

The quotation from Chapter XII is the close of the story. At the time this story was written, there were no atomic weapons, no nuclear arsenals, and I think it was an ordinary assumption among people not Christian that human kind would continue effectively forever on the earth. Recall, too, that Anthem is a poetic work, and in poetic expression, as in dreams, conjured images condense multiple associations. In the case of poetic expression, the suggested associations are set up by the wider text. To write that the word ego and that which it names cannot be eradicated from the earth might be playing on multiple meanings of earth. One meaning is the third planet from the sun; another is the dwelling place of mortal men, as distinct from mythological realms of immortal beings; another is the collection of human inhabitants on the planet (American Heritage). Rand’s uses of earth with talk of ego in Anthem 1938 can rightly carry those three meanings simultaneously. I think the most salient of three meanings in Rand’s use here is the second one. She is not only making a statement about the endurance of ego among all possible societies (the third meaning). She is most saliently making a statement about ego in relation to all the earth, to all the abode of human existence.

“Behold, I teach you the overman! / The overman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the overman shall be the meaning of the earth! / I beseech you, my brothers, remain faithful to the earth and do not believe those who speak to you of extraterrestrial hopes!” (Z I “Zarathustra’s Prologue” 3; also Z I “On the Bestowing Virtue” 2).

Ich lehre euch den Übermenschen.” I teach you the overman, or superhuman. Rand 1938 is not teaching something beyond human, higher than human. Rather, she is teaching the human restored to wholeness.

“My ego taught me a new pride, I teach it to mankind: No longer bury your head in the sand of heavenly things, but bear it freely instead, an earthly head that creates a meaning for the earth!” (Z I “On the Hinterworldly”). Rand does not create a superhuman for the meaning of the earth. Does her Prometheous create a meaning of the earth? His namesake does not invent fire.

Rand’s protagonist unlocks a type of human that finds the meaning of human existence; not in super-terrestrial personages and their affairs, but in complete human individuals on earth. “I am a man. This miracle of me is mine to own and keep, and mine to use, and mine to kneel before!” (XI).

Nietzsche calls for humans to create (by successive generations of self- and value-creators [yes, with Lamarckian inheritance]), superhuman beings who will be the meaning of the earth. Rand 1938 does not teach humans to create (or to beget) the meaning of the earth, but to discover it. “This spread of naked rock and peaks and moonlight is like a world ready to be born, a world that waits. It seems to us it asks a sign from us, a spark, a first commandment. We cannot know what word we are to give . . . . We are to speak. We are to give its goal, its highest meaning to all this glowing space of rock and sky” (X). I really do not see Rand setting up some sort of Fichtean or Nietzschean perspective on the relation of ego and world. She is saying that whatever goals there are in inanimate and animate earth, they reach their final end in their crowning glory: the individual human knower of joy and living; the individual judge of truth; the individual will free over his ends; in a word, the ego. Notice that at this stage of her development only sentient living processes, specifically, human ones, can be ends not for the sake of something else.

These final ends are human, not superhuman. Rand’s hero of Anthem is not portrayed as creating by will the human self that is final end and meaning of the earth. He is portrayed as discovering, or comprehending the self. (See also Mayhew 2005a, 38–39). In discovering what gives the earth its highest meaning, Rand’s Prometheus is not one who “first creates the possibility that something can be good and evil” (Z III “On New and Old Tablets” 2).

Rand began making notes for The Fountainhead in 1935. She began the writing in the summer of 1938 (Milgram 2007, 3). Her earliest notes specify that the theme of the novel is to be “the conflict between the first-handers who use their own minds to know the world and the second-handers, who ‘shift the center’ of their lives from their own judgments and values to those of others” (7). Between ’35 and ’37, Rand’s notes work on the theme, main characters, and events. “Her notes explain how the motives and actions of Toohey, Keating, and Wynand demonstrate their fundamental dependence on others” (4).

Rand selected epigraphs from Nietzsche for the front-piece of the novel and for the head of each of its four sections. (This practice is utilized, for example, by James Baldwin in his novel Another Country.) The epigraph for the section titled “Ellsworth Toohey” was from Zarathustra (I “The Tarantulas”), in the translation by Thomas Common (1917). “Ye preachers of equality, the tyrant-frenzy of impotence crieth thus in you for ‘equality’; your most secret tyrant-longings disguise themselves thus in virtue-words!” (quoted in Milgram 2007, 15). For a variety of reasons noted by Dr. Milgram, Rand eliminated all these epigrams from the finished product (1943).

In another notebook, her first philosophical one, Rand had an entry in 1934 in which “she commented that liberal democracies are at fault for ‘giving full rights to quantity (majorities), they forget the rights of quality, which are much higher rights. Prove that the differences of quality not only exist inexorably, but also should exist. The next step—democracy of superiors only’” (ibid., 27).

Eventually, Rand will transmute this quality/quantity notion of rights into the distinction of individual rights versus alleged rights of any collective. The individual rights will be uniform for all individuals, rather than be attached only to those of noble spirit. This will become Rand’s mature view, coincident with her mature view that ultimate ends in themselves are every individual’s own life itself. Ultimate ends in themselves are not just the selves that are noble spirits and higher life.

We see, however, that early Rand subscribed to Nietzsche’s doctrine of two kinds of justice for two spiritual classes of people (BGE 22, 44, 202–3; GS V 377). Kira says “I know no worse injustice than justice for all. Because men are not born equal and I don’t see why one should want to make them equal” (WL 1936, quoted in Mayhew 2004a, 211). Nietzsche had written “I do not want to be mixed in with and mistaken for these preachers of equality. For this justice speaks to me: ‘humans are not equal’. / And they shouldn’t become so either! What would my love for the overman be if I spoke otherwise?” (Z II “On the Tarantulas”).

Early in their relationship, Kira and Andrei discuss Communism, for which he has sacrificed lives and his own blood too. Kira maintains that the ideal of living for the state is wrong. Andrei asks what better purpose there could be. Kira replies “Don’t you know that we live only for ourselves, the best of us do, those who are worth leaving alive?” (ibid., 210). Here we see Rand’s idea from the Fountainhead-note that it is not meritorious to center one’s life on valuing others. That is in step with Nietzsche (D 516). Kira’s phrase “those who are worth leaving alive” suggests Nietzsche’s chronic talk about the ways in which calamities like wars get rid of superfluous humans and raise the type man to greater heights (GS I–IV 1, 19, 92; Z I “On War and Warriers”). However, in the situation, it is types like Kira who are not being left alive. So one might have thought that Rand’s 1936 Kira was only pleading: If some people are to be sacrificed for the sake of others, do not sacrifice the best of people, the people who live for themselves.

That thought is quickly quashed. Andrei tells Kira that we cannot sacrifice the masses for the sake of the few. She replies: “You can! You must. When those few are the best. . . . What are your masses but mud to be ground under foot, fuel to be burned for those who deserve it [deserve life]? What is the people but millions of puny, shriveled, helpless souls that have no thoughts of their own, no dreams of their own, no will of their own, . . . And for those you would sacrifice the few who know life, who are life?” (WL 1936, quoted in Sciabarra 1995, 101; Mayhew 2004, 211). These words were committed to print prior to WWII and the Nazis’ burning of one race to elevate another, but even if Rand’s talk in ’36 were only of metaphorical burning, say the burning of lifetimes in manual labor for factory owners or mine owners, these were and are words for the trash can.

Nietzsche writes: “At the risk of annoying innocent ears I will propose this: egoism belongs to the essence of the noble soul. I mean that firm belief that other beings will, by nature, have to be subordinate to a being ‘like us’ and will have to sacrifice themselves. The noble soul accepts this fact of its egoism without any question-mark, and also without feeling any harshness, compulsion, or caprice in it, but rather as something that may well be grounded in the primordial law of things. If the noble soul were to try to name this phenomenon, it would call it justice itself” (BGE 265).

Nietzsche and early Rand are seriously at odds over what type of characters should be counted as of noble spirit, as the best type of humans. However those two types are to be rightly characterized, early Rand evidently shared with Nietzsche the view that there has to be sacrifice between types higher and types lower.

That view is in tension with the ideal Rand was upholding by having Kira say she does not want to be for or against the people; she only wants to be left alone to live. Perhaps Rand was thinking that, in existing human societies, there had to be sacrifice between types of people and that the interests of the masses should be sacrificed to the interests of the superior spiritual class. By the summer of ’37, she was thinking that, at least in ideal social relationships, the best individuals are not dependent on the existence of the masses. That is one of the messages of Anthem.

In 1936 Rand may have held, against Marxism, that exploitation is right. However, I do not think her conception of life as an ideal, life undefeated, was the same as the concept of life Nietzsche appealed to in defending social exploitation. Nietzsche writes:

Life itself is essentially a process of appropriating, injuring, overpowering the alien and the weaker, oppressing, being harsh, imposing your own form, incorporating, and at least, the very least, exploiting . . . . Life is precisely will to power. . . . These days, people everywhere are lost in rapturous enthusiasms, even in scientific disguise, about a future state of society where “the exploitative character” will fall away . . . . “Exploitation” does not belong to a corrupt or imperfect society: it belongs to the essence of being alive as a fundamental organic function; it is a result of genuine will to power, which is just the will to life. (BGE 259)

Kira says to Andrei “What do you think is living in me? Why do you think I’m alive? Because I have a stomach and eat and digest food? Because I breathe and work and produce more food to digest? Or because I know what I want and that something that knows how to want—isn’t that life itself?” (WL 1936, quoted in Wright 2005, 203). She speaks of Andrei’s Communism bringing its “new life” to men by telling them what they should want, what they must want, dictating what the hours and thoughts of their lives must be. Andrei’s Communism “forbade life to the living” (WL 388).

Life as the moral ideal in We the Living (1936) is life knowing itself, but what it knows at its heart is not will to power. What it knows is life undefeated, life self-directed and self-caring. Stopping that heart of human life brings humanity not new life, but death.


(Zarathustra and Beyond, Part 2 of “Truth of Will and Value” to be continued.)


References

Descartes, R. 1641. Meditations on First Philosophy. E.S. Haldane and T.R.T. Ross, trans. In The Essential Descartes. M.D. Wilson, editor. Meridian.

Mayhew, R. 2004a. We the Living: ’36 and ’59. In Mayhew 2004b.
——., editor. 2004b. Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living. Lexington.
——. 2005a. Anthem ’38 & ’46. In Mayhew 2005b.
——., editor. 2005b. Essays on Ayn Rand’s Anthem. Lexington.

Milgram, S. 2005. Anthem in Manuscript: Finding the Words. In Mayhew 2005b.
Milgram, S. 2007. The Fountainhead from Notebook to Novel. In Essays on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. R. Mayhew, editor. Lexington.

Nietzsche, F. 1881. Daybreak. R.J. Hollingdale, trans. 1997. Cambridge.
——. 1882 & 1887. The Gay Science I–IV & V. J. Nauckhoff, trans. 2001. Cambridge.
——. 1883–85. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. A. Del Caro, trans. 2006. Cambridge.
——. 1886. Beyond Good and Evil. J. Norman, trans. 2002. Cambridge.

Rand, A. 1959 (1936). We the Living. Signet.
——. 1946 (1938). Anthem. In The Freeman 3(1).

Sciabarra, C. M. 1995. Ayn Rand – The Russian Radical. Penn State.

Wright, D. 2005. Needs of the Psyche in Ayn Rand’s Early Ethical Thought. In Mayhew 2005b.

Edited by Stephen Boydstun, 23 March 2010 - 08:13 PM.


#13 Stephen Boydstun

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 10:14 AM

Truth of Will and Value

Part 2 – Zarathustra and Beyond (continued)

~Rand 1938–46~
“Not to the bones, but deeper; they were souls.” —The Fountainhead

The Fountainhead includes a remedy of Rand’s very wrong passage in We the Living (1936). Andrei had told Kira that we cannot sacrifice the masses for the sake of the few. She replied: “You can! You must. When those few are the best. . . . What are your masses but mud to be ground under foot, fuel to be burned for those who deserve it [deserve life]? What is the people but millions of puny, shriveled, helpless souls that have no thoughts of their own, no dreams of their own, no will of their own, . . . And for those you would sacrifice the few who know life, who are life?” (WL 1936, quoted in Sciabarra 1995, 101; Mayhew 2004, 211; cf. BGE 258, 265). I remarked in the preceding installment that even if this talk were only of metaphorical burning, say the burning of lifetimes in manual labor for factory owners or mine owners, these were and are words for the trash can.

Speaking to Dominique, Gail Wynand says “‘One can’t love man without hating most of the creatures who pretend to his name’” (GW IV 476). That hatred is a distant relative to Kira’s hatred, but not distant enough for Rand 1943.

During the Banner’s campaign against Roark’s newly completed Stoddard Temple of the Human Spirit, Roark is interviewed by reporters. “He spoke without anger. He said: ‘I can’t tell anyone anything about my building. If I prepared a hash of words to stuff into other people’s brains, it would be an insult to them and to me’” (ET XII 365). The Banner reports the interview, twisting Roark’s view into one contrary to his. Their account is a report of precisely what Roark did not think: “‘Mr. Roark . . . stated that the public mind was hash’” (ibid.).* To a distinguished and ignoble literary critic in the circle of villain Toohey, Rand gives the line “I have a right to wish to impress my own personality upon people” (GW VI 503). Rand’s respect for the mind(s) of the public expressed by Roark was also expressed by the sympathetic character Sasha in We the Living (II, §II).

The editor of the Banner is Alvah Scarret. Of this character, Rand writes that he “had never hated anything, and so was incapable of love” (GW I 437). In this statement about Scarret, the author is stating a general proposition she holds for all human beings. Perhaps this proposition is true. (Leave out of view just now whatever science has yielded on the developmental psychodynamics of love and hate.) I have some doubt that the contrast concept-class hate is necessary for the concept-class love. There are other contrast classes for love within the superordinate class emotion. Wynand states one of those other contrast classes. He says that “love is reverence, and worship, and glory, and the upward glance. Not a bandage for dirty sores. . . . [Not] some sort of feeble stew out of sympathy, compassion, contempt and general indifference . . .’” (GW IV 476).

For the sake of argument, grant Rand’s general proposition that there could be no capability for love without a capability for hatred. It remains that there is no entailment that men eliciting one’s hatred be numerous, let alone be a majority of men. Moreover, there is no necessity that one hate men who do not live up to the title man. Kira, Wynand, and Dominique hate them. Howard Roark does not.

Here is the Fountainhead passage in which Rand supersedes her grievous passage in We the Living (1936). There is metaphorical feeding of bodies into a furnace, but without sacrifice of one spiritual class of people to another. At his office, Roark never speaks to his employees, except of their work. “The place seemed cold and soulless like a factory, until they looked at him; then they thought that it was not a factory, but a furnace fed on their bodies, his own first” (ET VI 268).

(“Rand 1938–46” to be continued.)

Note
*This reminds me of the movie Dirty Dancing (1987) in which the ideal man of The Fountainhead is held up as the role model of a character in Dirty who gets his girlfriend pregnant, then deserts her.

References

Mayhew, R. 2004. We the Living: ’36 and ’59. In Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living. Lexington.

Nietzsche, F. 1886. Beyond Good and Evil. J. Norman, trans. 2002. Cambridge.

Rand, A. 1943. The Fountainhead. Bobbs-Merrill.

Sciabarra, C. M. 1995. Ayn Rand – The Russian Radical. Penn State.

Edited by Stephen Boydstun, 27 April 2010 - 04:16 AM.


#14 Stephen Boydstun

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Posted 28 April 2010 - 04:20 AM

Truth of Will and Value

Part 2 – Zarathustra and Beyond

~Rand 1938–46~ (continued)

To the title Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche added the subtitle A Book for All and None. “When I came to mankind for the first time, I committed the hermit’s folly, the great folly: I situated myself in the market place. / And when I spoke to all, I spoke to none. . . . / . . . / You higher men, learn this from me: in the market place no one believes in higher men (Z IV “On the Higher Man”).

Howard Roark is given a scene in which “He was addressing everyone. He was addressing no one” (PK XIII 172). Nathaniel Janss of the Janss-Stuart Real Estate Company had come to Roark seeking an architect for his new thirty-story office building to be built on lower Broadway. Roark persuades him that this building should break with traditional styles and ornamentations. It should be like the human body whose every muscle has a purpose. The building should be free of useless accouterments. It should have sense and purpose, like the human body, where “‘there’s not a line wasted; . . . every detail of it fits one idea, the idea of a man and the life of a man’” (PK XIII 171).

Janss worries that the public will want forms and details traditionally taken for beautiful. Roark observes that such things do not make beauty when attached to a modern, steel office building. Roark avers that “‘most people take most things because that’s what’s given them, and they have no opinion whatever’” (ibid.). He urges Janss to simply be guided by his own judgment, rather than by what the public expects him to think they think (PK XIII 171–72). Janss is persuaded, but it is the board of directors who must decide.

Roark’s words to the board reach no individual hearing. They strike no note of independent response from any of the twelve members. “He was addressing everyone. He was addressing no one” (PK XIII 172). In the wider public, however, Roark knows that there are individuals who will respond to his approach to modern architecture. “‘You must only be patient. Because on your side you have reason, . . . and against you, you have just a vague, fat, blind inertia’” (ibid.).

Like Kira Argounova (WL II, §VII), Howard Roark has occasions of passing buildings under construction and feeling barred from ever entering that exhilarating work, his life’s work. After expulsion from architectural school, after the death of his esteemed mentor Henry Cameron, after uniform refusals for employment in architectural firms, Roark walks through New York, passes a construction site, and thinks of what he would like to see erected there. “Then he thought suddenly that now, in this moment, according to the city, according to everyone save that hard certainty within him, he would never build again, never—before he had begun” (PK VIII 103). He shrugs at the things happening to him, regarding them as “only a kind of sub-reality, unsubstantiated incidents in the path of a substance they could not reach or touch” (ibid.).

Roark opens his own firm, builds a couple of houses, a service station, and a department store. Then, no clients appear. He walks past buildings under construction and feels “the few steps on the sidewalk that separated him from the wooden fence enclosing the construction were the steps he would never be able to take. . . . It’s true, he would tell himself; its not, his body would answer, the strange, untouchable healthiness of his body” (PK XIV 183).

Like Andre Taganov (WL II, §III), Howard Roark is one for whom every waking hour of life has a purpose, and he knows his own (PK VII 88). Plato drew analogies between city and soul; Rand draws analogies between building and soul.($) Her Roark is a designer of buildings whose shape is determined by the building’s site, material, and purpose. The day he leaves school, Roark tells the Dean: “‘Nothing can be reasonable or beautiful unless it’s made by one central idea, and the idea sets every detail. A building is alive, like a man. Its integrity is to follow its own truth, its one single theme, and to serve its own single purpose’” (PK I 18). A building should seem alive. Its design should be a clean, clear-cut unity (PK X 129).

Roark designs a building for the Manhattan Bank Company. The company will accept his proposal, provided a Classic motif is added to its façade. Roark explains to the board of directors “why an honest building, like an honest man, had to be of one piece and one faith; what constituted the life source, the idea in any exiting thing or creature . . . . why the good, the high and the noble on earth was only that which kept its integrity” (PK XV 205).

In their architectural careers, in bringing forth designs, creators like Cameron and Roark are following and finding truths within themselves. Rand speaks of Cameron, after long years of struggle, reaching the goal of his life work, finally giving shape “to the truth he had sought” (PK III 41). These creative discoveries are similar to Nietzsche’s commission “become who you are” (GS 270, 335). Roark is not taking up this Nietzschean commission.

Taganov and Roark are characters “living past” old moralities (BGE 262). But these are men of fixed moral character. Andrei learns things about himself from his relationship with Kira. The two of them had believed in life, a word “‘that awaken[s] the kind of feeling that a temple does, or a military march, or the statue of a perfect body’” (WL II, §III). It was for that feeling that he fought against the Czar. His own existence had been “‘only the fight and the future. You [Kira] taught me the present’.” Andrei had “‘lived a life where every hour had to have a purpose, and suddenly I discover what it’s like to feel things that have no purpose but myself, and I see suddenly how sacred a purpose can be, . . . and I know, then, that a life is possible whose only justification is my own joy’” (ibid.). That is a substantial self-discovery and self-transformation. It does not fit, however, Nietzsche’s call to be of somewhat variable moral character (GS 296), to continually examine oneself, overcome oneself, and recompose oneself, as if creating one’s next work of art (GS 290; Z II “On Self-Overcoming”).

The youthful Roark says “‘Every man creates his meaning and form and goal’” (PK I 18). He laughs in the opening of the novel, because—notwithstanding what had just happened to him and notwithstanding the obstacles ahead in his life-purpose—“the plan had been set long ago and because he wanted to laugh” (PK I 9). The set plan refers both to his life-purpose, architecture, and to the constitutional plan of Roark’s soul.

For Cameron and Roark, architecture is “‘a crusade and consecration to a joy that justifies the existence of the earth’” (PK VI 80). Roark has no question of this nor any interest in questioning this. What he esteems is set. He pursues that, not questioning and revising his values and person. Roark does not change, not his sense of lightness, his ease in motion and action, his thought (GW V 495). He is not losing himself as his days go by. He is as an immortal in his unchanging entity (GW V 485). By the constancy of his character, he is no Nietzschean ideal.

We have seen the notion of “a joy that justifies the existence of the earth in Rand’s earlier works We the Living and Anthem. I take the primary intended sense of earth here to be as I took it to be in those earlier works.* That is, earth as the entire abode of human existence. Roark’s creations bring him and others a joy that can justify the life of man and a man on earth. This joy is the spring of value in the world for man. This joy, however, is not had in just any way.

Gail Wynand thinks the foremost moral failing to be “ascribing futility to the wonderful fact of existence and seeking justification beyond [oneself]” (HR V 595). He is proud, looking back on his five decades of life, to be able to say to himself “I do not cry like all the men of my age: but what was the use and the meaning? I was the use and the meaning, I, Gail Wynand. That I lived and that I acted” (ibid.).

Nietzsche can agree with Wynand in that outline. Nietzsche countered nihilism, which he saw as weakness and sickness of will (GS 347). Given that “God is dead,” how shall all human desire not fail? (GS 125, 343; Z II “The Soothsayer,” IV “The Song of Melancholy” 2). If nothing of value to us lies ready as value beyond ourselves, how shall we have anything worthy of our esteem? (BGE Preface).

You [wisest ones] still want to create the world before which you could kneel: this is your ultimate hope and intoxication. / The unwise, to be sure, the people—they are like a river on which a skiff floats; valuations are seated in the skiff, solemn and cloaked. / Your will and your values you set upon the river of becoming; what the people believe to be good and evil reveals to me an ancient will to power. / It was you, you wisest ones, who placed such guests into the skiff and gave them pomp and proud names—you and your dominating will! (Z II “On Self-Overcoming”).

In Nietzsche’s view of reality and human existence, the revered moral values set upon the skiff are not values necessitated as uniquely and unchangingly correct by reality. “Good and evil that would be everlasting—there is no such thing! They must overcome themselves again and again.” The living “must always overcome itself.” It is perpetually “struggle and becoming and purpose and the contradiction of purposes” (ibid.).

Howard Roark and his buildings do not embody these doctrines of Nietzsche. Fountainhead character Gordon Prescott takes the pliability of reality and moral values to an extreme well beyond Nietzsche. He says that what are called rooms are emptiness. Architecture puts up emptiness. “‘The architect is a metaphysical priest dealing in basic essentials, who has the courage to face the primal conception of reality as nonreality—since there is nothing and he creates nothingness. If this sounds like a contradiction, it is not proof of bad logic, but of a higher logic, the dialectics of all life and art’” (ET VIII 3ll). Thus spoke Gordon at a meeting of Toohey’s Council of American Builders (also in the case at court over the Stoddard Temple; ET XII 376). The members of Toohey’s Council of American Artists were so-called individualists who “rebelled against the tyranny of reality and of the objective” (ET IX 326).

Roark says to Austen Heller “‘A house can have integrity, just like a person’” (PK XI 140). Another client of Roark’s, Kent Lansing says to Roark: “‘Integrity is the ability to stand by an idea. That presupposes the ability to think’” (ET X 333).

Nietzsche:

“Will to truth” you call that which drives you and makes you lustful, you wisest ones? / Will to thinkability of all being, that’s what I call your will! / You first want to make all being thinkable, because you doubt with proper suspicion, whether it is even thinkable. / But for you it shall behave and bend! Thus your will wants it. It shall become smooth and subservient to the spirit, as its mirror and reflection. / That is your entire will, you wisest ones, as a will to power; and even when you speak of good and evil and of valuations. (Z II “On Self-Overcoming”)

Reality does not lie before us simply susceptible to rational thought and rational valuation, not in Nietzsche’s view. So far as reality is thinkable, it has been made so by us; likewise for value. Hence his diminution of the objective character of what is physical health, which we have noted earlier. Nietzsche knows that living requires constraint. But he sees and wants too much of the constraint to have been set by human will (e.g. BGE 188, 211). With such constraints being set so much by us, their necessity is undermined, and the possibility of their perpetual reconstitution is opened.

Nietzsche’s diminution of the extent to which the natural world provides constraints for truth and value in human existence is part of the reason Thus Spoke Zarathustra is “a book for all and none.” Human beings and what will best preserve them will not satisfy Nietzsche’s impetus to value (Z IV “On the Higher Man” 3). Rather, his inspiration is towards a being beyond the human, a superhuman being able to embrace these words: “Whatever I may create and however I may love it—soon I must oppose it and my love, thus my will wants it. / And even you, seeker of knowledge, are only a path and footstep of my will; indeed, my will to power follows also on the heels of your will to truth!” (Z II “On Self-Overcoming”; also Z I “On a Thousand and One Goals”).

Objectivity is not a durable liberation or inspiration to Nietzsche’s mind (BGE 207). Reason has some authority, but deep down, moral judgments are irrational (BGE 191).

In response to Roark’s defense of integrity in a building’s design, the chairman of the board of the Manhatten Bank Company says: “‘In practical life, one can’t be always so flawlessly consistent. There’s always the incalculable human element of emotion. We can’t fight that with logic’” (PK XV 205). Toohey says to Dominique: “‘Reason can be fought with reason. How are you going to fight the unreasonable? The trouble with you, my dear, and with most people, is that you don’t have sufficient respect for the senseless. The senseless is the major factor in our lives’” (ET XII 368; cf. Z III “Before Sunrise” and early Nietzsche here).

The constraints on buildings designed by Roark are the site, the materials, and the function of the building. The building shall have integrity. That is a constraint. By the building-soul analogy, those are the constraints in the soul of Roark. His buildings are different one to the next, and the souls of good men are different one to the next. “‘Every building is like a person. Single and unrepeatable’” (GW V 495).

All Roark’s buildings have another character too, one discerned by Wynand: “‘Your buildings have one sense above all—a sense of joy. Not a placid joy. A difficult, demanding kind of joy. The kind that makes one feel as if it were an achievement to experience it. One looks and thinks: I’m a better person if I can feel that’” (HR II 560; see also Dominique, ET XII 306; further, Roark, HR IV 582–83.)

A day at the site of the house Roark is building for Wynand, Roark tells him the meaning of life is your work—not your strength—your work, “‘the material the earth offers you and what you make of it’” (HR V 596). Roark loves the earth. That he has in common with Zarathustra. However, Roark’s dedication is to ever-remaking the earth for the physical and spiritual needs of man, not to ever-remaking his values and soul.

(“Rand 1938–46” to be continued.)

References

Nietzsche, F. 1882 & 1887. The Gay Science I–IV & V. J. Nauckhoff, trans. 2001. Cambridge.
——. 1883–85. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. A. Del Caro, trans. 2006. Cambridge.
——. 1886. Beyond Good and Evil. J. Norman, trans. 2002. Cambridge.

Rand, A. 1959 (1936). We the Living. Signet.
——. 1943. The Fountainhead. Bobbs-Merrill.

Edited by Stephen Boydstun, 09 May 2010 - 06:21 AM.


#15 Stephen Boydstun

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 12:03 PM

Truth of Will and Value

Part 2 – Zarathustra and Beyond

~Rand 1938–46~ (continued)

Leo means lion. Leo of We the Living laughs in his first encounter with Kira. It is a cold and empty laugh (WL I, §IV). His laugh is not that of Nietzsche’s laughing lion, the overman (Z IV “The Welcome”). Leo is the sort of character Nietzsche might well call a higher man. Zarathustra is the physician and teacher of such men. In Leo’s second encounter with Kira, we are told he is a man come down to one desire: to learn to desire something (WL I, §IV). In the end, Leo is spiritually defeated. The hero in his soul has perished (Z I “On the Tree on the Mountain”).

The Fountainhead has two principals who fit the Nietzschean designation of the higher human: Gail Wynand and Dominique Francon. Like the higher men of Zarathustra, they are spiritually convalescent. They are learning their way towards recovery in the course of the novel.

In June 1938 Rand wrote the opening of The Fountainhead. “Howard Roark laughed.” In final form (1943), the text continues “He stood naked at the edge of a cliff. The lake lay far below him. A frozen explosion of granite burst in flight to the sky over motionless water. . . . The stone had the stillness of one brief battle when thrust meets thrust and the currents are held in a pause more dynamic than motion” (PK I 9). Below him the lake into which he will dive reflects the sky. “So that the world seemed suspended in space, an island floating on nothing, anchored to the feet of the man on the cliff” (ibid.). Earlier that morning, he had been expelled from architecture school. He laughed at that and “at the things which now lay ahead. / He knew that the days ahead would be difficult. There were questions to be faced and a plan of action to be prepared. He knew he should think about it. He knew also that he would not think, because everything had been set long ago, and because he wanted to laugh” (ibid.).

Roark is not without roar. Is Howard Roark Nietzsche’s laughing lion? No. Roark is not the overman, not the higher man, and not Zarathustra.

I stated in the preceding installment that what “had been set long ago” was (i) Roark’s life-purpose, architecture (since age nine), and (ii) the constitutional plan of his soul. Is his soul and course of life set in a predetermined way by his body?

Roark’s body is center of the opening scene. Later, during a period of his struggle in which he has no contracts he passes by a construction site in New York and thinks he will never be entering such a site for a building of Howard Roark, architect. “It’s true, he would tell himself; it’s not, his body would answer, the strange untouchable healthiness of his body” (PK XIV 183).

Years later, when Roark has become successful and Peter Keating’s success has died out, Keating meets with Roark to hear Roark’s decision on Keating’s proposal for winning the big Cortlandt contract. Keating thinks to himself of Roark: “It’s in his whole body, that look of a creature glad to be alive. And he realized that he had never actually believed that any living thing could be glad for the gift of existence” (HR VIII 630). That was part of Roark’s laughter in the opening scene of the novel. He wants to laugh partly from the joy of his existence.

In Zarathustra laughter is often emblematic of Nietzsche’s campaign against “the spirit of gravity” (Z I “On Reading and Writing;” IV “On the Higher Man” 16, 18, 20; “The Awakening” 1). There is some of the laughter against the spirit of gravity in the laughs of Roark. However, in laughter against the spirit of gravity, Nietzsche includes laughing at oneself and indeed at anything serious (Z IV “On the Higher Man” 15; “The Awakening” 1; GS 1, 382; BGE 294). This is something Rand speaks against in Fountainhead.

Roark seldom laughs (ET IV 253). He laughs as the face of an associate reveals a dawning comprehension of something in Roark’s motives (PK XV 202). He laughs over the prospect, when he has to close his architectural practice, that his enemies will gloat over him being reduced to tradesman work (PK XV 207). He laughs soundlessly at turns in his first bedding of Dominique (ET II 225, 230). He laughs soundlessly upon learning, from Joel Sutton, that Dominique is the one who has persuaded Sutton to decline Roark as his architect and that Dominique told Sutton to tell Roark she was the one (ET VII 288). He laughs softly when Keating finally comprehends that to be able to say “I built Cortlandt” is a gift possible only from oneself and is worth more than any money, fame, and honor that one might receive from others on account of the accomplishment. That soft laughter “was the happiest sound Keating had ever heard” (HR VIII 630).

Robert Mayhew observes that right after Roark’s laughter at the opening of the novel, there enters something arresting of attention and laughter. “He did not laugh as his eyes stopped in the awareness of the earth around him. . . . / He looked at the granite. To be cut, he thought, and made into walls. He looked at a tree. To be split and made into rafters” (PK I 9–10; Mayhew 2007b, 210). When it comes to his work, his life-meaning, and his essential person, Roark does not laugh.

Rand gives to villain Ellsworth Toohey the idea that an ability to laugh at oneself, and at anything one holds to be important, is a good thing (ET III 242, 246–47; IV 251, 257; IX 326; XIII 385). Shortly before Roark’s soliloquy in the courtroom for the Cortlandt destruction, Rand gives Toohey a soliloquy, which includes the following: “‘Kill by laughter. Laughter is an instrument of human joy. Learn to use it as a weapon of destruction. Turn it into a sneer. It’s simple. Tell them to laugh at everything. Tell them that a sense of humor is an unlimited virtue. Don’t let anything remain sacred in a man’s soul—and his soul won’t be sacred to him. Kill reverence and you’ve killed the hero in man. One doesn’t reverence with a giggle’” (HR IX 636).

Rand was not the first to note that laughter can be used to kill. Nietzsche has the ugliest human (he who had been the object of pity for his ugliness and who had taken revenge for it by murdering God, who had super-pitied him) say to Zarathustra “‘But I know one thing—it was from you yourself that I once learned, oh Zarathustra: whoever wants to kill most thoroughly laughs. / “One kills not by wrath, but by laughter”—this you once spoke’” (Z IV “The Ass Festival” 1). But Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, unlike Toohey, has not the slightest intent to kill, by laughter or otherwise, the truly sacred in men’s souls, the hero in man. It is an earlier writer who observes the thoroughly vicious use of laughter we find admitted in Toohey’s soliloquy.

In The Man Who Laughs (1869), Hugo’s Gwynplaine takes his stand for humanity in a speech in the House of Lords, and these his most serious, most sacred words are laughed into dust. When the mountebank Gwynplaine had been in shows, performing as a freak, laughter had applauded him; but here, on solemn matters of real life, elevated to Lord and addressing his peers, “here it exterminated him. The effort to ridicule is to kill. Men’s laughter sometimes exerts all its power to murder” (VII 610–11).

Zarathustra’s disciples interpret a dream of his. They put it to him this way: “‘Like thousandfold children’s laughter Zarathustra comes into all burial chambers, laughing at these night watchmen and grave guardians, and whoever else rattles about with dingy keys. / You will frighten and lay them low with your laughter . . . . / And even if the long twilight comes and the weariness unto death, you will not set in our sky, you advocate of life! / You allowed us to see new stars and new splendors of the night; indeed, you spanned laughter itself above us like a tent’” (Z II “The Soothsayer”). The grave guardians of whom Zarathustra’s disciples speak are they who have renounced life.

We have seen that Kira counter poses belief in God to belief in life. Similarly, Roark counter poses belief in God to love of the earth (PK III 45). This much Rand coincides with Nietzsche. “My brothers, remain faithful to the earth and do not believe those who speak of extraterrestrial hopes! . . . / They are despisers of life . . . .” (Z I “Zarathustra’s Prologue” 3).

We learn eventually that Zarathustra’s disciples had gotten his place in real life wrong in their dream interpretation. The sun that he heralds also sets. He is herald of no everlasting ascent from the spirit of gravity and no everlasting ascent from the human to the overman. He reports what he has seen in a vision. In a “cadaver-colored twilight,” he climbed a hard mountain, forcing his foot upward, upward “in defiance against the spirit that pulled him downward, the spirit of gravity, my devil and arch-enemy” (Z III “On the Vision and the Riddle” 1). On his shoulder sat a dwarf monster murmuring in his ear “‘You stone of wisdom! You hurled yourself high, but every stone must fall!’” (ibid.).

Zarathustra lightens the load by stopping the climb, having the little monster off his shoulder, and spelling out what is the deep abyss drawing down his spirit: The present moment, and every present moment, is connected to an infinite past and an infinite future. Whatever occurs now must have occurred before in such an infinite past and must occur again in such an infinite future. Over and over, it goes (Z II “On the Vision and the Riddle” 2). “The knot of causes in which I am entangled recurs—it will create me again! I myself belong to the causes of the eternal recurrence. / I will return . . . not to a new life or a better life or a similar life: / —I will return to this same and selfsame life, in what is greatest as well as what is smallest . . . . / . . . / to once again teach the eternal recurrence of all things” (Z III “The Convalescent” 1).

Zarathustra is teacher of Nietzsche’s doctrine of the eternal recurrence (GS 341). This idea is false if taken literally (and I suppose Nietzsche took it literally; contra Williams 2001, xvi) because not all infinities are equally large. The fire in the fireplace yesterday is one among an infinite potential of particular fires-for-a-day. That infinity is larger than the infinity of infinite time. That fire need never occur again, even in an eternity. Indeed the chance of it is nil. But Nietzsche is under the gripping spell of the eternal recurrence. Let us follow his thought under this spell.

In Zarathustra laughter is not only emblematic of Nietzsche’s general campaign against the spirit of gravity. It is emblematic more particularly of reconciliation with the chains of determinism and more particularly still with eternal self-returning determinism. There is a laughter to be longed for, the laughter of one “no longer human,” a being “transformed, illuminated . . . . / Never yet on earth had I heard a human being laugh as he laughed!” (Z III “On the Vision and the Riddle” 2; contrast my treatment of this passage in relation to Roark with the treatment in Milgram 2007, 31–32.) That laughter was only in a vision, in which a shepherd in the field wakes to find a snake has entered his mouth and lodged its bite in his throat. The shepherd bites off the head of the snake, spits it away, and laughs the laugh beyond the human, the laugh so much to be hoped for.

It was the laugh of a character in a vision, not the laugh of an actual overman. It was not Zarathustra’s laugh either. The abysmal thought of the eternal return continues to gnaw at him. “I have not been strong enough for the lion’s final overreaching and cheeky mischief. / [Abysmal thought,] your gravity alone was always terrible enough for me; but one day I shall yet find the strength and the lion’s voice to summon you up!” (Z III “On Unwilling Bliss;” further, Z IV “The Sleepwalker’s Song” and “The Sign”).

In a still hour before sleep, Zarathustra has been told, by the clock of his life, when it drew a breath, that the one who is needed most by everyone is “‘the one who commands great things.’ / And I answered ‘I lack the lion’s voice for all commanding’. / Then it spoke to me again like a whispering: ‘The stillest words are those that bring the storm. Thoughts that come on the feet of doves steer the world’” (Z II “The Stillest Hour”). Later in the adventure, Zarathustra: “Here I sit and wait, old broken tablets around me and also new tablets only partially written upon. When will my hour come? / . . . / This is what I wait for now; signs must come to me first that it is my hour—namely the laughing lion and the swarm of doves” (Z III “On Old and New Tablets” 1).

At the close of Zarathustra, his higher men have begun to learn to laugh against the spirit of gravity, and he has given them his song “One More Time.” His hour has come. His midnight of joy deeper than the deep pain of the world wants it all again, wants deep, deep eternity.

Zarathustra lastly rises glowing and strong in the morning. His signs have come. His doves are a cloud of love about his head. His lion has come and chased off the higher men. Zarathustra’s last sin, his pity for the higher men, is gone. His lion is near to him. His day and work begin.

The ringed determinism binding the human will is a very hard one in Nietzsche’s understanding. “If ever a breath came to me of creative breath and of heavenly necessity that forces even accident to dance astral rounds: / If ever I laughed with the laugh of creative lightning that follows rumbling but obediently the long thunder of the deed: / . . . / Oh how then could I not lust for eternity and for the mystical ring of rings—the ring of recurrence! / . . . / For I love you, oh eternity!” (Z III “The Other Dance Song” 3; see also I “On the Three Metamorphoses;” II “On Redemption.”) Nietzsche, loving life and the world, reaches yet for joy even with all the pain and heavy chains of necessity (Z IV “The Sleepwalker’s Song” 8–10; cf. BGE 9).

When Howard Roark laughs at the opening of The Fountainhead, shall we say determinism—determinism binding his life course by nature and his body—is among the objects of his laughter? Does the author see a need for her hero, by his laugh, to be biting off the head of that snake?

It is likely Rand had always rejected the Marxist doctrine of economic determinism (Milgram 2004, 12; Ridpath 2004, 91). “The mode of production of material life determines the general character of the social, political, and spiritual processes of life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence determines their consciousness” (Marx 1897 [1859]). In Fountainhead, Rand gave to Toohey the proclamation “there was no such thing as free will, since men’s creative impulses were determined, as all else, by the economic structure of the epoch in which they lived” (PK VI 77). To the villains, too, goes proclamation of the type of determinism accepted by Nietzsche. Toohey says “‘we are merely the creatures of our chemical metabolism and of the economic factors of our background . . . . There are, of course, apparent exceptions. Merely apparent. When circumstances delude us into thinking that free action is indicated’” (HR VII 615).

A writer in Toohey’s circle writes a novel whose point is that there is no such thing as free will (GW I 421). A distinguished critic in Toohey’s circle remarks “‘talent is only a glandular accident” (GW VI 503). Nietzsche, of course, would not make small of the creative individual. He would elevate in spite of the chains of determinism.

I suggest that Rand’s stress on the untouchable healthiness of Roark’s body is a matter of conferring an esthetic integrity on him and a way of saying that the base of life given to man by the earth is good. Roark is one who keeps that goodness. So do other Fountainhead characters, such as Heller or Lansing, so far as we are told. The character Roark is styled to reflect innocence never lost. After viewing Roark’s drawing for the Stoddard Temple of the Human Spirit, the conversation includes Mallory saying to Roark: “‘Do you know what your secret is? It’s your terrible innocence’. / Roark laughed aloud, looking at the boyish face. / ‘No’, said Mallory, ‘it’s not funny. . . . It’s because of that absolute health of yours. You’re so healthy that you can’t conceive of disease. You know of it. But you don’t really believe it’” (ET XI 352).

(“Rand 1938–46” to be continued.)

References

Hugo, V. 1869. The Man Who Laughs. Translator unknown. 2006. Norilana.

Marx, K. 1997 [1859]. Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. N.I. Stone, translator. 1904. Charles H. Kerr.

Mayhew, R., editor, 2004. Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living. Lexington.
——. 2007a. Essays on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. Lexington.
——. 2007b. Humor in The Fountainhead. In Mayhew 2007a.

Milgram, S. 2004. From Airtight to We the Living: The Drafts of Ayn Rand’s First Novel. In Mayhew 2004.
——. 2007. The Fountainhead from Notebook to Novel: The Composition of Ayn Rand’s First Ideal Man. In Mayhew 2007a.

Nietzsche, F. 1882 & 1887. The Gay Science I–IV & V. J. Nauckhoff, trans. 2001. Cambridge.
——. 1883–85. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. A. Del Caro, trans. 2006. Cambridge.
——. 1886. Beyond Good and Evil. J. Norman, trans. 2002. Cambridge.

Ridpath, J. 2004. Russian Revolutionary Ideology and We the Living. In Mayhew 2004.

Rand, A. 1959 (1936). We the Living. Signet.
——. 1943. The Fountainhead. Bobbs-Merrill.

Williams, B. 2001. Introduction to The Gay Science. Cambridge.

Edited by Stephen Boydstun, 20 May 2010 - 06:21 AM.


#16 Stephen Boydstun

Stephen Boydstun

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Posted 29 May 2010 - 11:13 AM

Truth of Will and Value

Part 2 – Zarathustra and Beyond

~Rand 1938–46~ (continued)

At the end of Book IV of The Gay Science (1882), Nietzsche introduces the character Zarathustra. He has stayed in the mountains the last ten years, enjoying “his spirit and solitude” (GS 342). He has decided to leave his cave in the mountains and to descend, to “go under,” back to humans for whom his happiness may shine. The same setting out from the mountains is repeated as the opening of Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883; Z I “Zarthustra’s Prologue” 1). Like Prometheus and the Christian God-the-Father, Zarathustra loves man and brings gifts to him (Z I “Zarathustra’s Prologue” 2).

"My disciples: like me you strive for the bestowing virtue. . . . / This is your thirst: to become sacrifices and gifts yourselves, and therefore you strive to amass all riches in your soul. / Insatiably your soul strives for treasures and gems, because your virtue is insatiable in wanting to bestow. / . . . / Indeed such a bestowing love must become a robber of all values, but holy and hale I call this selfishness. / There is another selfishness, one all too poor, a hungering one that always wants to steal; that selfishness of the sick, the sick selfishness.” (Z I “On the Bestowing Virtue”)

Howard Roark bestows gifts by his creations. He is life-giving. He does not, however, need to take away old virtues of others to give them his gift. Moreover, he does not aim primarily, by his creative work, to be a one who bestows gifts. He aims to bring about the creations.

Hopton Stoddard tells Roark the Temple of the Human Spirit shall be to “‘the human spirit as the creator and the conqueror of the ideal. The great life-giving force of the universe. . . . What I want in the building is your spirit. Your spirit, Mr. Roark’” (ET X 340).

Henry Cameron had said to Roark: “‘May God bless you—or whoever it is alone to see the best, the highest possible to human hearts’” (PK XI 137). Roark is one who pursues the best in his creations. He needs others of a certain character in order to create his buildings. He needs men of independent judgment, of honesty, of courage—men of integrity (PK XIII 166). For his buildings, Roark tracks down the best sculptor, one who is capable of showing in sculpture what men could and should be. Rand 1943 takes seeking the best, the highest, as a law of healthy, selfish life (ET XI 349). This law she calls a first law, this law to seek the best (ET XI 352; cf. Summa Theologica XIII Q94 A2).

Unlike Zarathustra and his hoped-for superhuman children of the future, Roark is not in the business of breaking people’s old tables of good and evil and finding new, more noble virtues. Roark does not take an interest in persons on account of their need of value-reformation. There are fellows of Roark’s spirit, having integrity in the full-bodied sense characterized in The Fountainhead (PK XI 140–41; ET X 333; GW I 442; GW IX 532). These are Roark’s brothers (ET X 332; GW III 576).

At his firm, Roark looks for and rewards only competence. Those who last a month are with him for life. “It was not loyalty to him, but to the best within themselves” (ET X 329). The way of life working at Roark’s firm and the way of life working under him on the Monadnock construction project is contrary the way of the world in general (HR I 547–49). Workers in step with Roark are in a crusade, although, unlike the disciples of Zarathustra and Jesus, the crusade is not the center of their aim.

By the designs of his buildings, Roark bestows life on the spirit of others—on clients and users (PK XI 141, HR II 550, 723) and viewers (ET VIII 305, X 327, HR I 543–45)—and on his own spirit (PK XI 138, ET II 231–32, XI 359). By his buildings and within the social process of their execution, Roark is life-giving. He is also life-giving in personal relations. Austen Heller says to Roark: “You’re the coldest man I know. . . . [Yet] I always feel, when I see you, that you’re the most life-giving person I’ve ever met” (PK XIII 166–67).

Roark is shown as life-giving by personal assistance to the talented young sculptor, Steven Mallory, who is fallen into drink and despair, who is without commissions in a world sot with vulgarity. Kent Lansing, a client of Roark’s and champion of his works, once remarked to Roark: “Men are brothers” (ET X 332). Between Lansing and Roark is the brotherhood of integrity in their intersecting commercial works (also, Wynand and Roark, HR III 576). Roark sees the sculptor Mallory as a spiritual confederate hurt in battle. Finding this man in despair, Roark’s eyes “were serene and they looked at Mallory quietly, a hard, clear glance of understanding—and respect” (ET XI 350). In that face, Mallory saw “the calmest, kindest face—a face without a hint of pity” (ET XI 350; cf. Roark and Wynand at site for future Wynand house, HR III 568–70).

In Fountainhead Rand uses the term pity interchangeably with compassion (ET XI 350). She uses both to designate a feeling towards those in need, but a feeling sour with disrespect. Through the voice of Dominique, Rand states that within her meaning of compassion there is a letting go from holding up one’s heart or spirit, that the antipode of compassion is admiration, and that there is something unsound in adopting compassion as the greatest virtue, given that compassion presupposes suffering (ET VIII 301).

Rand acknowledges that there is a lot of suffering in the world, though she would not make it a central concern of Roark to relieve suffering. Cameron says to Roark that Roark’s steps of success are going to be “a challenge in the face of something so vast and so dark, that all the pain on earth—and do you know how much suffering there is on earth?—all the pain comes from that thing you are going to face” (PK XI 137).

The idea that all the pain on earth comes from human behavior is puzzling (cf. last two paragraphs here). I understand Rand’s thought when she describes Dominique’s climax in bed with Roark as taking pain and suffering, inverting them, and sweeping them “into a denial of all suffering, into its antithesis, into ecstasy” (ET VIII 301). That denial is a momentary sanctuary against suffering in life, all suffering, whether caused by humans or nature. That denial, of course, is not a denial of the existence of suffering outside the iron gates of the sanctuary.

Howard Roark suffers a great deal. He designs the Temple of the Human Spirit. He and Dominique walk without words through the completed silent temple on a night before its opening. The temple does not get opened for its designed purpose. It is to have its design modified and botched. Its purpose is rededicated, as a home for subnormal children, where twisted wealthy patrons will visit to enjoy a feeling of superiority. Roark says to Dominique, concerning the destruction of his creation: “I don’t believe it matters to me—that they’re going to destroy it. Maybe it hurts so much that I don’t even know I’m hurt. But I don’t think so. . . . I’m not capable of suffering completely. I never have. It goes only down to a certain point and then it stops. As long as there is that untouched point, it’s not really pain” (ET XII 366). Roark’s buildings each have their own personality, but all of them reflect his soul at its core. They are “innocent of pain” (HR I 544); they are a demanding joy (HR II 560).

Cameron was definitely speaking of pain and suffering such as what Roark has to endure in the fate of the Temple. Dominique asks Roark where does the pain stop. He replies: “Where I can think of nothing and feel nothing except that I designed that temple. I built it. Nothing else can seem very important” (ibid.). Dominique says that he should never have built such a thing to be delivered to such desecration. Roark: “That doesn’t matter. Not even that they’ll destroy it. Only that it had existed” (ibid.).

Hmmmm. Where have we heard that thought before? It was at the close of We the Living. Walking away from the country of death and tyranny, Kira has been shot, in the snowy wilderness, in her wedding gown. She rises and staggers on, whispering the name Leo, whom she had loved. She falls for the last time. She knows she had known something “deep under the little hole that dripped red drops into the snow, deeper than that from which the red drops came. . . . Life, undefeated, existed and could exist.”

Something wonderful had existed. Though it is ending, it had been. It is a fact nothing can change. That is one sanctuary of great emotional suffering. This refuge is also set out for Keating, in his memory of his first and only moments of true love, moments “of wonderful anticipation just before spring is to begin” (HR X 650).

Now in Rand’s story The Fountainhead, Roark’s pain and suffering in the course of his creative projects are due to wrongness in the minds and characters of some members of his society. The same is cause of the suffering he endures when Dominique leaves his arms and marries Keating (ET XV 399–400) and the pain he must carry the rest of his life over the friend he was not able to save (HR IX 749). Unlike in the novel, not all human pain and suffering stems from wrong ideas and choices. The best resolution I can make of Cameron’s statement is to see it as restricted by context in its meaning. Rand was referring, in Cameron’s statement, only to all the physical and emotional pain and suffering brought about in the world by wrong ideas and choices. There is plenty of it. Within that large ambit is the pain and suffering Roark will have to endure in the story.

(Beyond that story and ambit—this is Stephen alone now—there is a larger one. One may lose a lover or child to accident or disease. A love affair may fail through no wrong ideas or values. Rand’s sanctuary is possible in these experiences too. Nothing can change the fact that your loved one and your love existed. Nothing ever. That is a secret I tell you, which I have told to persons enduring such loss. This secret too. There is a story of humanity that is its largest story. That is the story of life and death and love.)

Dominique is thoroughly revolted by the smallness, the smuttiness, of what most of humanity selects for their enjoyment. When it comes to humanity’s suffering, well, “as a matter of fact, one can feel some respect for people when they suffer. They have a certain dignity” (PK XII 49). One development from Dominique’s self-punishing marriage to Peter Keating is his painful realization of the void he is, of the nothingness of his self apart from his reflection of others* (GW II 449–55). She says softly and honestly to him in this suffering over his hollow marriage and life, “I never wanted to take revenge on you, Peter. . . . / I don’t want you to suffer—I can’t feel anything else—but I feel that much” (GW II 456–57).

Peter later squarely faces the fact that virtually all the merit of his buildings has come about by his parasitism on Roark and past creators like Roark. He confesses this sincerely, with dignity, to Roark. Rand’s ideal Howard Roark tells Peter that no forgiveness from him is needed since he has not been hurt in any important way by Peter’s betrayals. Roark has no drive to punish Keating (HR VIII 623). If the terms egotist and kindness do not sit well together, then one needs to rethink these concepts, for Roark is man most egoistic and most kind (HR VIII 631).

Then Peter shows to Howard something he has in his briefcase, something not shown to anyone else. Peter has been doing a work entirely alone, purely because he wants to do it. Howard looks at the landscape paintings Peter has made in solitude and now has pulled from his case. He sees sadly what Peter had really already known: it is too late in life for Peter to develop the skills needed to bring what he feels in a scene onto the canvas (ibid.).

When Keating had gone, Roark leaned against the door, closing his eyes.
He was sick with pity.
He had never felt this before . . . . This was pity—this complete awareness of a man without worth or hope, this sense of finality, of the not to be redeemed. There was shame in this feeling—his own shame that he should have to pronounce such judgment upon a man, that he should know an emotion which contained no shred of respect.
This is pity, he thought, and then he lifted his head in wonder. He thought that there must be something terribly wrong with a world in which this monstrous feeling is called a virtue. (HR VIII 631–32)

Contrast that feeling with Roark’s spontaneous feeling towards Mallory, “a desire to lift him in his arms and carry him to safety” (ET XI 351). This feeling does not go by the name pity or compassion in Fountainhead.

When Dominique first sees the face of Roark, at the granite quarry, she sees “the cold, pure brilliance of the eyes that had no trace of pity” (ET I 217). That is a statement about his standard countenance, whether or not it is also something peculiar to his immediate attitude in first looking at her, seeing her and her glance. What is in his face responsive to seeing Dominique is a look of ownership, which is to say, the sexual pronouncement, Yes! (HR IV 582). Perhaps there is also some related sexual lack of pity, as in partners who play rough.

Eventually, at the end of their months-long love affair, Rand makes another mention of Roark’s lack of pity towards Dominique. This mention is a flag staked against the idea that bestowing love—including romantic love—entails loss of self and flows from pity on the object of love. It is a banner against unselfish love. Roark says to Dominique in the heart-rending scene in which they separate: “I love you, Dominique. As selfishly as the fact that I exist. As selfishly as my lungs breathe air. . . . I’ve given you, not my sacrifice or pity, but my ego and my naked need” (ET XIV 400).

It is a commonplace to say that romantic love needs to be unselfish and entails sacrifice. I am not aware of anyone ever saying that it requires or entails or is even compatible with pity. Nor compassion. It does entail concern for another, but presumably Rand was not challenging that in her challenge to romantic love tied to pity. Perhaps Rand was letting pity here stand for mere concern for another by way of challenging the idea that that concern is more basic to romantic love than is concern for oneself. Then again, perhaps Rand was relying on readers knowing romantic love does not rest on pity and hoping that would fortify her proposal of pity-free love in general.

In Roark romantic love and brotherly love are variations of a god-like, bestowing love. They are loves flowing from the needs of his own life, not from pity (unlike God-the-Father) or sacrifice (unlike Jesus).

Howard Roark is a kind person, in a certain sense (HR VIII 631). Ellsworth Toohey poses the question: “What is kinder—to believe the best of people and burden them with a nobility beyond their endurance—or to see them as they are, and accept it because it makes them comfortable?” (ET VIII 296). Roark is not kind in that second sense. His brotherhood is not fastened to kindness in that second sense. He expects something of human beings. So there are some human failings that can outrage him (GW IV 475), such as Mallory being driven down to bric-a-brac (PK III 35) or Cameron being destroyed (PK V 72–75; VI 78–80; XIV 185–86; HR V 593), though sometimes he brushes depravity aside and gets back to work (HR I 551–52). Roark is not contemptuous of humanity (ET XII 365; HR XIX 751). And his standing kindness does not entail pity.

Peter Keating is a lucky man. He gets to sell his soul three times over. Rather than marry the woman he loves, he sells his soul by marrying a woman who can bring him career advancement and the envy of men (PK IV 51–55; VI 82–84; HR X 650–51). He sells his soul in selling his wife to Wynand for a contract (GW III 468–72). He sells his soul to the control of Toohey in return for contracts, prestige, and consolation. The final installment of this sale is Keating giving over to the soul-breaker Toohey his generous friend Roark, by handing over his secret Cortlandt pact with Roark (HR XIV 686–89, 694).

In his best seller Sermons in Stone, Ellsworth Toohey predicts “a better world to come, where all men would be brothers” (PK VI 77). In his newspaper column, he speaks of anonymity and uniformity of brotherhood (ET III 238). This brotherhood is not a brotherhood of nobility or sainthood. It is a brotherhood of comfort, for people who are spiritually nothing by themselves (ET V 261; VIII 296). Saintly spirits, such as Dominique and Roark, are a threat to Toohey’s type of “humanitarianism” in which relations between people are more important than people (ET VIII 297; XIII 387).

Toohey is openly unkind to most every particular person he deals with. He preaches otherwise. “Kindness. That is the first commandment, perhaps the only one. . . . We must be kind to everybody around us. We must accept and forgive” (ET IX 312). Contrast with Roark’s first law (ET XI 349, 352). Contrast with the First Commandment.*

In his early high school years, while still religious, Toohey talked about God and the spirit, but “he read more books on the history of the church than on the substance of faith” (ET IX 317). He excelled in original oratory and brought his audience to tears on the theme “The meek shall inherit the earth” (ibid.). Boys who were “suffering or ill-endowed” became his friends and spiritual wards. He consoled them with doctrines on the goodness of suffering, its moral superiority to happiness, the blessedness of belief over understanding, and the superiority of being a slower, less-inquiring student (ET IX 318).

At sixteen Toohey let go of religion and turned to socialism. Instead of God and the nobility of suffering, he talked about the masses. He preached love of the masses and profound self-sacrifice for them. He argued “that religion bred selfishness; because . . . religion over-emphasized the importance of the individual spirit; religion preached nothing but a single concern—the salvation of one’s own soul” (ET IX 319).

In a personal letter in 1946,* Rand related her idea of Jesus as proclaiming “the basic principle of individualism—the inviolate sanctity of man’s soul, and the salvation of one’s soul as one’s first concern and highest goal; this means—one’s ego and the integrity of one’s ego.” One great corruption of that individualism in Jesus’ teachings comes with the code of ethics put forth as the means of saving one’s soul: “One must love or help or live for others.” Who put forth this second doctrine? “Jesus (or His interpreters).”

One of the first books Rand bought after coming to America was Nietzsche’s The Anti-Christ. Within this work, Nietzsche sets down differences he sees between the exemplar to be read from the life of Jesus and morality proclaimed by institutional Christianity. One difference is Christianity’s exaggeration of the amount of pity needed in the world. “Christianity is called the religion of pity. [cf.] . . . Pity makes suffering into something infectious; sometimes it can even cause a total loss of life and of vital energy wildly disproportionate to the magnitude of the cause (—the case of the Nazarene). . . . Pity wins people over to nothingness! You do not say ‘nothingness’: instead you say ‘the beyond’; or ‘God’; or . . .” (AC 7; further, 17, 18, 26, 32, 33, 39–43).

There are several views of Nietzsche expressed in this work that Rand maintained in The Fountainhead, while leaving aside other Nietzchean doctrines, such as those I have replaced with ellipses points in the preceding quotation. Rand’s sensitivity to the possibility of incongruity between Jesus’ life and teachings, on the one hand, and Christianity, on the other, may have been taken home from The Anti-Christ. The particular doctrines in conflict in Rand’s eye, stated paragraph before last, are not among those in Nietzsche’s eye in Anti-Christ, but there is a prelude to the particular opponent-doctrines Rand stresses in Daybreak (132).

Notwithstanding Toohey’s omitting talk of God, his socialist sayings are generally warmly familiar to the religious. Hopton Stoddard found everything Toohey preached “in line with God’s law: charity, sacrifice, help to the poor” (ET X 335). Toohey continued to preach the blessedness of belief over understanding, belief over thought (ET X 388; GW VI 507; HR XIV 692). Mysticism and dialectical materialism, Toohey says, “are two superficially varied manifestations of the same thing. Of the same intention” (HR VI 600). Toohey is speaking for Rand when speaking of the continuity of religion and socialism. This idea was big with Nietzsche. “Who do I hate most among the rabble today? The socialist rabble . . . . The anarchist and the Christian are descended from the same lineage . . . . / Christians are perfectly identical with anarchists: their only goal, their only instinct is to destroy” (AC 57–58; see also D 132; Z IV “The Last Supper” 16; BGE 202).

Notice that Rand does not take religion to be uniformly against thought. Like Leibniz before her, Rand is pleased with the story and idea of humans being created in the image of God, specifically, in their capability for reason. “‘Man’s first frown is the first touch of God on his forehead. The touch of thought’” (HR XIV 693). Though he would not say it publicly, Toohey in no way intends to carry that value forward: “‘We’ll have neither God nor thought’” (ibid.).

Near the end of Fountainhead, Toohey is safe finally to bare entirely his true aims and methods and his true self to Keating. In the world Toohey works to bring about, he would “let all sacrifice and none profit. Let all suffer and none enjoy” (HR XIV 694). Catherine Halsey had been drawn to a career as a social worker because she wanted to help people (ET XIII 387), because she enjoyed helping the helpless and unhappy (ET IV 251–52). Catherine seeks her Uncle Ellsworth’s approval in all her choices. Once she developed a friendship with another girl who was a social worker. This girl was “intelligent, capable, gay and loved the poor” (ET XIII 383). Toohey did not approve of the friendship, and Catherine drops the girl. As time goes by, Catherine succeeds in giving up all her selfish desires (ET XIII 387). She comes to hate the poor people she serves (ET XIII 386).

Toohey reveals to Keating that altruism is a great tool for bringing people around to being ashamed of saying “I want,” thereby killing their joy in living (HR XIV 691). “Preach selflessness. Tell man that he must live for others. Tell men that altruism is the ideal” (HR XIV 690).

Catherine and Peter were truly in love when they were young. Peter jilted her for the social advantage of a marriage to Dominique. Six years later, Catherine has a government job in DC. By chance Peter runs into her in New York, and they have lunch. He tries to look back together with her on the true, first love they had and on the suffering he caused her by dropping her. Catherine responds, without feint: “‘Yes, of course I suffered. All young people do in such situations. It seems foolish afterwards. I cried, and I screamed some dreadful things at Uncle Ellsworth, . . . and then weeks afterward I fainted on the street one day without reason, which was really disgraceful. All the conventional things, I suppose, everybody goes through them, like measles’” (649). Peter thinks to himself. “He had not known there was something worse than a living memory of pain; a dead one” (ibid.).*

Self-pity is widely spurned in the world. It is spurned as well by Rand’s Roark (ET I 214–15). In popular culture, one sometimes sees pity upon another spurned as disrespectful by the one who is object of the pity. It is spurned by Joyce Heath in the movie Dangerous (1935) and by Police Chief Gillespie in the movie In the Heat of the Night (1967).

American Heritage Dictionary states two related meanings of the term pity:
1. Sorrow or grief aroused by the misfortune of another; compassion for suffering.
2. Concern or regret for one considered inferior or less favored.
It is that second one that is sometimes portrayed as disagreeable and is sometimes be discouraged in popular culture. American Heritage lists the following synonyms having in common that they designate grief or concern felt for someone in misfortune: pity, compassion, commiseration, sympathy, condolence, and empathy. It goes on state the differences in the usage of theses terms. “Pity implies a disposition to help but little emotional sharing of the distress. Compassion always favorably connotes broad or profound feeling for the misfortunes of others and a desire to aid them. Sympathy is as broad as pity but connotes spontaneous emotion rather than considered attitude. Empathy, with literary and psychological overtones, is a conscious involvement with a person’s situation in the sense of vicarious identification” (1976).

The preponderance of translators of Nietzsche into English render his Mitlied as pity, rather than as compassion. Josefine Nauckoff’s translation of The Gay Science alone plunks for compassion over pity.

Nietzsche wrote against the elevation of Mitlied, against making it a virtue, such as had been done by Christianity and by Schopenhauer (D 132–33, 142; GS 251; Z IV “The Cry of Distress”; AC 7). Major translators of Schopenhauer, E.F.J. Payne and R.E. Aquila, render his Mitlied as compassion. David Cartwright (1988) has argued that Mitlied in Schopenhauer should be rendered compassion and that in Nietzsche Mitlied should be rendered pity.

The next, final installment of “Truth of Will and Value” will include examination of Nietzsche’s doctrines on pity and their relation (to Schopenhauer and) to Rand 1943. I should mention something about Nietzsche that I have left only implicit for too long. His call for ever-new tables of good and evil exempts the virtues of courage and intellectual honesty. His charges against good and evil are not charges against the noble and base. (I am indebted to Prof. Pippin for that point.) Courage and intellectual honesty belong to the essence of the noble. Pity does not.

(“Rand 1938–46” to be continued.)


Note

* Rand has tucked a personal image as a sign of true love into her literature. In his appeal to Catherine to share in the memory of how they were, Peter speaks of a precious moment when they were alone together sitting on a bench in Washington Square. It was snowing. He speaks of her woolen gloves. “‘I remember—there were drops of water in the fuzz—round—like crystal—they flashed . . .’” (HR X 651, PK VI 85). On the night Roark will first come to Dominique and take her, just before she hears his steps, “a spilled drop of perfume remained on the glass of the dressing table, a drop sparkling like a gem” (ET II 229). In We the Living, Leo and Kira meet a second time, on a snowy night, in front of the deserted mansion. As they part, he takes off her mitten, raises her hand to his lips, and kisses her palm. He departs, “while she was still standing motionless, her hand outstretched, until a little white flake fluttered into her palm, onto the unseen treasure she was afraid to spill (WL 75). In Atlas Shrugged, after John and Dagny first make love, on the sandbags in the Taggart tunnels beneath New York: she saw him stretched out beside her, in the granite vault, “as if his body were fluid in relaxation, she saw the black wedge of her cape flung across the rails at their feet, there were beads of moisture twinkling on the vault” (AS 957).

References

Aquinas, T. d.1274. Summa Theologica. A. C. Pegis, trans., V2, 1997 (1945). Hackett.

Cartwright, D.E. 1988. Schopenhauer’s Compassion and Nietzsche’s Pity. Schopenhauer-Jahrbuch 69:557–65.

Nietzsche, F. 1881. Daybreak. R.J. Hollingdale, trans. 1997. Cambridge.
——. 1882 & 1887. The Gay Science I–IV & V. J. Nauckhoff, trans. 2001. Cambridge.
——. 1883–85. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. A. Del Caro, trans. 2006. Cambridge.
——. 1886. Beyond Good and Evil. J. Norman, trans. 2002. Cambridge.
——. 1888. The Anti-Christ. J. Norman, trans. 2005. Cambridge.

Rand, A. 1959 (1936). We the Living. Signet.
——. 1943. The Fountainhead. Bobbs-Merrill.
——. 1957. Atlas Shrugged. Random House.

Edited by Stephen Boydstun, 03 June 2010 - 02:19 PM.


#17 Stephen Boydstun

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Posted 11 June 2010 - 04:00 AM

Truth of Will and Value

Part 2 – Zarathustra and Beyond

~Rand 1938–46~ (conclusion)

Gail Wynand is introduced in The Fountainhead in the voice of Guy Francon chatting with Peter Keating. We are told of a costume party Wynand has given for his latest mistress. Francon reports “‘Wynand dressed as Cesare Borgia—wouldn’t he, though?’” (PK VIII 99).

Cesare’s father became Pope Alexander VI, the most notorious of Renaissance popes, in the year some of my ancestors had waved to Columbus from the shore. Cesare was a womanizer and a ruthless, cunning man of action. With Alexander on the throne, Cesare led the military campaigns reestablishing the Pope’s control of the papal states of central Italy, which had come to be under the control of semi-independent papal vicars. Cesare pursued power single-mindedly. His motto was “Either Caesar or Nothing.” Cesare was the model for the ideal prince in Machiavelli’s The Prince. Cesare aimed to win for himself the position Prince. He was feared and loathed all over Italy. The death of his father pulled the rug out from under him.

Nietzsche saw the Renaissance as “the revaluation of all Christian values, an attempt using all means, all instincts, all genius, to allow the opposite values, noble values to triumph” (AC 61). He delights in a fantasy: “Cesare Borgia as Pope . . . . That would have been the victory that I am the only one demanding these days—: with this, Christianity was abolished!” (AC 61). Nietzsche took Cesare as natural, strong, and vital, a man of prey (BGE 197; TI 37). He saw him as a “higher man,” indeed, “as a type of overman” (TI 37).

Nietzsche and Rand note that the age of the Italian Renaissance was an aristocratic age. Kiki Holcombe’s husband is a distinguished architect specializing exclusively in the Renaissance style. Her grand home is Renaissance. “Three crystal chandeliers blazed over her Florentine ballroom” (ET VI 271). She basks in the height of the ballroom’s ceiling, untouched and dominate, far above the sea of her guests.

“‘There is nothing as useless, my dear Kiki’, said Ellsworth Toohey, ‘as a rich woman who makes herself a profession of entertaining. But then, all useless things have charm. Like aristocracy, for instance, the most useless conception of all’” (ET VI 270). Kiki liked the comparison to aristocracy.

Aristocrats are widely taken to be unproductive parasites. Rand gives Wynand character of aristocracy, but with earned wealth, rather than inherited wealth (GW I 418; 428–29; IX 531; cf.). Toohey would find no modern worthwhile employment at all for the concept aristocratic. Toohey is a social leveler.

Nietzsche and Rand are one in their opposition to the modern trend towards egalitarianism, a trend embodied in Toohey. Nietzsche and Rand concur that there are substantial differences among people in their spiritual independence and in what they are capable of accomplishing and appreciating. They concur that one should not aim to love all people equally, all children as much as one’s own (GW IV 475; HR IX 638).

Unlike Nietzsche, Rand does not value the stereotypical unproductiveness of aristocracy. She will confine that element in the notion aristocratic to Wynand when he is on a vacation cruise on his yacht, a temporary relaxation from work (GW IX 531).

One night, before Dominique and Roark come into his life, Gail Wynand the self-made commercial Caesar, alone in his penthouse, is reading. He stops. He has no desire to continue reading or to do anything at all any further. He has lost the root of desire, “the desire to desire” (GW I 426). He prepares for bed, sees his pistol in his dresser drawer, and feels no shock at the thought he will kill himself. That lack of shock convinces him he should. “The thought seemed so simple, like an argument not worth contesting. Like a bromide. / Now he stood at the glass wall [overlooking the city], stopped by that very simplicity. One could make a bromide of one’s life, he thought, but not of one’s death” (ibid.). He decides to reflect on his life and “find either the will to live on or the reason to end it now” (GW I 427).

Nietzsche:

The best became weary of their works. / . . . / We harvested well, but why did all our fruits turn foul and brown? What fell down from the evil moon last night? / . . . / ‘Oh where is there still a sea in which one could drown?’—thus rings our lament—out across shallow swamps’” (Z II “The Soothsayer”).

All of you who suffer from the great nausea like me, for whom the old God died and no new god is lying yet in cradles and crib clothes . . . . / . . . / I know you, you higher men. (Z IV “The Song of Melancholy 2)

Wynand reviews the course of his amazing life, but stops with a sense of dread over further examination. Seeing that he still fears something, he knows suicide is out, at least for the present evening. “As long as he still feared something, he had a foothold on living; even if it meant only moving forward to an unknown disaster” (GW I 443).

He goes to his study to get a drink before bed. Beside his desk stands an unopened gift. He opens its crate. Inside is a nude statue of Dominique, whom he does not know, though she formerly worked for his newspaper. The sculptor is Steven Mallory, the one whose works have a magnificent respect for the human being, the one whose works are of what humans could be and should be.

Wynand soon meets Dominique. He observes that the same elements compose opposite themes: Everything about her in the statue goes to exaltation. Her own theme is suffering (GW III 468).

Dominique had been thoroughly disappointed by humankind, from wealthy slumlords to irresponsible, poor parents (PK XII 145). She did not want to desire anything, for the net of connections to shallow, revolting people who would crush what is precious to her. She wanted perfection or nothing (PK XII 148–49).

She meets Roark and desires him and has him, feverishly, helplessly. She sees his buildings as bright, bold, and sacred, and she is pained to see them given to a world dark, dingy, and small (ET VII 283; XII 378–79; GW V 498). Dominique sees the suffering the world causes Roark, and she expects he will eventually be destroyed. She cannot bear it. She severs her personal relationship to Roark. She chooses suffering; she marries and promotes Roark’s successful, incompetent classmate Keating.

“Perfection or nothing” could also be a motto for Roark. He does not, however, expect humanity to destroy itself nor the best within him. He expects the rightness with the earth that is his to never be lost among men.

I said that Dominique Francon and Gail Wynand fit the Nietzschean designation of higher humans.* Like the higher men of Zarathustra, they are in spiritual convalescence in the course of the book. (Nietzsche would exclude women as hopeless, but this is error we kick away; Z IV “The Awakening” 1.) Given Rand’s conviction of free will, there is no need for Dominique to say Yes to an eternal recurrence of all suffering and joy. There is a need for Dominique to free herself of overwhelming disgust and contempt.

“‘Does this town not steam with the reek of slaughtered spirit? / Do you not see the souls hanging like limp dirty rags?—And they even make newspapers out of these rags! / . . . / . . . They are all sick and addicted to public opinion’” (Z III “On Passing By”).

On her way to Reno to divorce Keating, so she can marry Wynand, Dominique stops to see Roark building a department store in Clayton, Ohio. It is just a small town much like one will find anywhere in America today. Dominique and Roark talk on the stoop of a vacant house (as Kira and Leo a world and yesterday away). They stand, to walk to the station for her to take the next train west. She asks: “‘Until—when, Roark?’ / His hand moved over the streets. ‘Until you stop hating all this, stop being afraid of it, learn not to notice it’” (GW V 499). Early in the story, Roark tells Cameron that though people in the streets may fear or hate him, though such people can bring him suffering through his love of his work, he does not notice them (PK IV 61).

Dominique is going on, to marry Wynand. On Cameron’s deathbed, he had told Roark he did not hate anyone any more, except Gail Wynand, whose newspaper is symbol of the world’s overbearing vulgarity. Roark carries as near-hatred that token from Cameron, until he actually meets Wynand, husband of Dominique (HR II 556, V 593).

Hatred in Fountainhead is mainly given to “those who love to crawl,” those who see man as puny (GW IV 478). Theirs is hatred of competent individuals who love their work and whose person and life is sufficient unto itself. Rand reasons that they hate the independent individual because the only existence and self-esteem these haters know is through others. In the independent man, they do not exist, and he is a reproach to them (PK IV 61; ET XII 379; HR XI 659).

Yes, there are people who love to crawl—at least in their manifestos—people who resent the achievements and wealth of others, and who would level society. However, I have no experience of people hating me on account of my competence or love of my work or on account of self-sufficiency. People generally lightened if they noticed those things, no doubt they sometimes thought I was foolish or tragic in those things, but I never sensed that anyone hated me on those counts. They hated me because of my sexual orientation or my atheism or because of an intense rivalry. They were sometimes jealous of personal traits I had, but that is not hatred. In fact I have found the two traits, competence and love of work, to be subversive of people’s hatred of me based on other grounds. (For Rand’s picture of Keating’s jealousy, hatred, and love of Roark: PK XI 134; PK XV 202–3; ET IV 253–54; VI 278; GW II 456; HR VIII 626.)

“‘We want to exact revenge and heap insult on all whose equals we are not’—thus vow the tarantula hearts. / ‘And “will to equality”—that itself from now on shall be the name for virtue; and against everything that has power we shall raise our clamor!’” (Z II “On the Tarantulas”). Nietzsche’s concern is for uncommon humans, against whom there is much hatred. The hated humans of his concern, of course, are not industrious and existentially productive (GS 329).

Gail Wynand is hated for the power he wields. He is hated by some for the vulgarity of his newspaper, the Banner, which is enormously successful. For sport Wynand goes after certain individuals who have done nothing against him. He gets men to forfeit their integrity in return for money. Wynand has sold his own soul for money, the means to luxury and power. He continually wants to show himself that there are no men of incorruptible integrity. He says to Dominique “I have paid with my honor for the privilege of holding a position where I can amuse myself by observing how honor operates in other men” (GW III 472).

Wynand works mightily on his business enterprises. When he is drained of strength and will, he visits his private collection of art locked in the lower, windowless floor of his penthouse. These treasures are not to be pawned. Leaving those rooms, he has a look of suffering. He wants to share them with Dominique right after meeting her. She is the cleanest person he had ever seen (GW IV 479).

Gail worships Dominique. They marry. His values are hers. But he loves his child, the Banner, which is a daily pandering to the puny in people, a daily treason against the values of Gail and Dominique, against exaltation of man on earth. Dominique’s marriage to Gail is a daily treason to the spirit of the Stoddard Temple (GW 526–30).

In their second cruise on Gail’s yacht, Dominique enjoys the sight of him relaxing in a deck chair, a state so much not his natural one. “She wondered about him; Gail Wynand, famous for his extraordinary capacity; but this was not merely the force of an ambitious adventurer who had created a chain of newspapers; this—the quality he saw in him here—the thing stretched out under the sun, like an answer —this was greater, a first cause, a faculty out of universal dynamics” (GW IX 531).

Rand’s talk here of “a faculty out of universal dynamics” is probably an allusion to the force Nietzsche had come to think the fundamental essential force in all biological nature, even in all nature. That force for Nietzsche was will to power. He imputed to all organisms the drive for power he saw as the fundamental determinant of relations between human beings. Rand plays out what Nietzsche calls bourgeois drive for power in her characters Keating, his mother, and Catherine Halsey. She plays out more masterful drives for power in her characters Wynand and Toohey. Like Rand’s readers, Nietzsche would take all these characters as ignoble, excepting the mixed case of Wynand. He is noble in his honesty and courage, and in his self-regard and self-containment. Also, in his will of life and sense of gallantry (GW VII 517; IX 536).

Nonetheless, Rand’s magnificent morality tale is a reproof of the necessity of will to power in human relations. Her Roark is devoid of it. Nietzsche would say Roark is profoundly impossible. Moreover, Nietzsche would detest all the framing in terms of good and evil, which Rand first brought expressly into her fiction in The Fountainhead. Rand bonds the good to the noble by the concept of integrity crafted in this book. I think her concept is sound, and I see no way to break the bond.

Rand 1943 was not beyond speculating “a faculty out of universal dynamics.” But she sees human creation as fundamental and essential to human existence, and she sees creators like Roark as an original “life force” that is not a drive to power over others (HR XVIII 737). Wynand, too, had an abundance of that fundamental life force to which his will to power was inessential, dispensable. The character Wynand will not be able to redeem his treason. His love of Dominique and friendship with Roark do liberate him. Then too, the tallest skyscraper in New York will be built, in the pure spirit of Roark, as a monument to Wynand’s life, as if he had been forgiven (HR IX 643).

Dominique does not need to learn to say Yes to all suffering and joy ever-returning. Also unlike Zarathustra, she does not need to learn to overcome pity. She needs to learn to stop hating the world that is opposite Roark and to be not so afraid for him. When Dominique severed her relationship with Roark, she said to him “When I think of what you are, I can’t accept any reality except a world of your kind. Or at least a world in which you have a fighting chance and a fight on your own terms. That does not exist. And I can’t live a life torn between that which exists—and you’” (ET XIV 399; also HR I 551–52).

While Roark is building the home for Gail and Dominique, he is a frequent guest at their penthouse. Dominique learns to say Yes to the reality that is Roark in the real world, Roark as best friend of her husband, the three of them perfectly real in the city she dreads beyond the windows, as real as the three of them at the isolated, completed home (HR V 597; IX 636). She waits.

Long ago she had walked through Roark’s Enright House under construction. “The girders and the conduits and the sweeping reaches of space were his and could not have been anyone else’s in the world; his, as his face, as his soul, . . . in every line of steel, a man’s self, hers for this moment, hers by the grace of seeing it and understanding” (ET VIII 306).

Years later Roark had said to her and Gail. “‘What you feel in the presence of a thing you admire is just one word—“Yes.” The affirmation, the acceptance, the sign of admittance. . . . The ability to say “Yes” or “No” is the essence of all ownership’” (HR IV 582).

She waits. Roark enters her home and enlists her aid in his plan to dynamite Cortlandt, in the name of all creators and all real integrity. She is ready to fight.

She is alone, driving the roadster along the East River to the site. “She laughed and thought: No, this is not New York, this is a private picture pasted to the window of my car, all of it, here on one small pane, under my hand, I own it, its mine now—she ran one hand across the buildings from the Battery to Queensborough Bridge—Roark, it’s mine and I’m giving it to you” (HR XII 668).


References

Nietzsche, F. 1882 & 1887. The Gay Science I–IV & V. J. Nauckhoff, trans. 2001. Cambridge.
——. 1883–85. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. A. Del Caro, trans. 2006. Cambridge.
——. 1886. Beyond Good and Evil. J. Norman, trans. 2002. Cambridge.
——. 1888. The Anti-Christ. J. Norman, trans. 2005. Cambridge.
——. 1888. Twilight of the Idols. J. Norman, trans. 2005. Cambridge.

Rand, A. 1943. The Fountainhead. Bobbs-Merrill.


Further Reading

I have decided to save the comparative study of Mitlied and pity in Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Rand for inclusion in future installments of “Rand’s Morality of Life.”

Other studies of Nietzsche and Rand, additional to the present thread, are these:

Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical (1995, 100–112) – Chris Matthew Sciabarra

“Nietzsche: The Myth and Its Methods” (1997) * – Fred Seddon
Reason Papers 22, Fall 1997

We the Living: ’36 and ’59” (2004, 205–13) – Robert Mayhew
Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living

Anthem: ’38 and ’46” (2005, 37–42) – Robert Mayhew
Essays on Ayn Rand’s Anthem

“Thus Spoke Howard Roark: The Transformation of Nietzschean Ideas in The Fountainhead* (2005 TOC Seminar) – Lester H. Hunt
Philosophy and Literature 30(1), April 2006

“Egoism in Nietzsche and Rand” (2005 TOC Seminar) – Stephen R. C. Hicks
The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 10(2), Spring 2009

The Fountainhead from Notebook to Novel” (2007, 15–36) – Shoshana Milgram
Essays on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead

“Ayn Rand Contra Friedrich Nietzsche”* (Objectivist Summer Conference 2008) – John Ridpath

A Symposium on Friedrich Nietzsche & Ayn Rand (2010)
– Stephen Hicks, Lester Hunt, Adam Reed (& Ronald Merrill), Peter Saint-Andre, and Robert Powell
The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 10(2), Spring 2009

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(“Truth of Will and Value” to be concluded in the next installment.)

Edited by Stephen Boydstun, 06 July 2010 - 06:11 AM.


#18 Stephen Boydstun

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 09:30 AM

Truth of Will and Value

Part 2 – Zarathustra and Beyond (conclusion)

~Rand in Full~

Rand had some important steady differences with Nietzsche from the first of her publications to her last. She always extolled the virtues of reason and the hard sciences. Rand’s protagonists Kira, Equality 7-2521, Roark, Rearden, and Galt all love science and technology. They embrace technological and social progress, contrary to Nietzsche. They all find the possibility of entirely meaningful work in technical and commercial areas, contrary to Nietzsche’s assessments of work in those areas. They all develop into persons whose moral character is in a stable equilibrium for the best possible human life, contrary Nietzsche’s ideal of endless reach beyond particular tables of good and evil. Rand was constant in her opposition to materialist, determinist reduction of all human thought, will, and desire, contrary to Nietzsche.

Rand contests Nietzsche’s mature philosophy in her 1960 essay “For the New Intellectual.” She stands against Nietzsche’s proclamations “that the ideal man is moved, not by reason, but by his ‘blood’, by his innate instincts, feelings and will to power—that he is predestined by birth to rule others and sacrifice them to himself, while they are predestined by birth to be his victims and slaves—that reason, logic, principles are futile and debilitating, that morality is useless, the ‘superman’ is ‘beyond good and evil’, that he is a ‘beast of prey’ whose ultimate standard is nothing but his own whim” (36).

That Randian summary of Nietzsche’s mature philosophy is roughly right. Nietzsche would deny, of course, that the ultimate standard of his ideal, super human is nothing but whim. It goes too far to say that Nietzsche’s superhuman is moved not at all by reason. The Nietzschean virtues of intellectual honesty and courage are kin of reason.

We have seen that, for Nietzsche, underneath will to truth and will to life is will to power. This he takes to be in the nature of human life independently of anyone’s whim. That will to power manifests itself in higher humans and in superhumans in the form of those particular virtues is not subject to the whims of those beings. Not just anything an individual might set up as a value for himself can pass for noble or be worthy of a superhuman. Weakness, pity, altruism, unconditional faith, and respect of equal rights for all will not fit the bill. (The middle three are issues on which Rand was in some steady agreement with Nietzsche.) Beyond those constraints on the values of a superhuman are the required perpetual drive to fashion new values and the circumstance that not just any new value can be grown out of his previous values. Notice that Aristotle’s constraint of the mean is not among the constraints on Nietzschean value sets.

For the most part, it remains that the superhuman’s value sets, old and new, are to be peculiar to that individual alone. I should say that a value theory holding that values (and health) are relative to individuals and are idiosyncratic does not necessarily entail that they are not objective. Nietzsche, however, has not arrived at sufficiently specific and objective constraints on idiosyncratic values to provision the superintendence of feeling by reason. That was not his aim.

He has also not established the objectivity of the uniform “noble” values he applauds. For all his questioning of ideals not his own and all his talk of self-criticism, Nietzsche’s own ideals of nobility and egoism are personal sentiments sheltered from objective assessment.

Rand did not accept Nietzshe’s idea that the world that is relevant to us might be a fiction (BGE 34, 24, 230). From Kira fighting to live and make her own life to Tony dying in the arms of Rearden, Rand takes the absoluteness of truth or falsehood to equal the absoluteness of life or death. From We the Living to The Fountainhead to Atlas Shrugged, she takes rightness in values to be tethered to rightness for life against death. Roark tells Mallory that seeking the best is a law of survival (ET XI 349). Toohey tells Dominique that if the press and the professors valued their lives they should have come to the defense of Roark’s Temple of the Human Spirit (ET XII 369).

Rand had Kira place before Andrei the possibility of wanting something for “no reason of right or wrong, for no reason at all, save one: that you wanted it” (WL 1936, 92; quoted in Milgram 2004, 40). In Fountainhead Rand writes not only of rightness and having rights. She writes expressly of good and evil. Catherine Halsey learns to greatly curtail her personal desires and to devote her efforts to helping others. This she does because she wants to do what is right and because she accepts the idea that selfishness is evil (ET XIII 384).

Catherine also accepts the idea, advocated by Toohey (ET XI 342), that selfishness leads to unhappiness. I have been unable to recall or locate any major thinker who advocated this proposition, but it will follow from the premises that happiness requires morality and that selfishness is immoral.

Catherine’s success at unselfishness makes her unhappy and resentful. She speaks with her Uncle Ellsworth about it. She acknowledges that he is much brighter than she and that “‘it’s a very big subject, good and evil’” (ET XIII 384). Rand then uses their dialogue to argue the incoherence and pointlessness of absolute unselfishness. Rand’s lead into her case for the goodness of pure selfishness consists of the sensibleness and pleasure of having personal desires (together with having one’s own thoughts and choices) and guiding one’s own actions. (ET XIII 384; GW II 454). We have seen this way of entering the case for egoism before, in the development of Andrei after he meets Kira.

After her deep conversation with Uncle Ellsworth, Catherine gets together with Peter Keating. He is feeling dirty because of his testimony against Roark at the court case over the Stoddard Temple. Peter and Catherine reaffirm their love, which is a first-hand personal preference satisfying their own identities. They kiss. “Then he did not think of the Stoddard Temple any longer, and she did not think of good and evil. They did not need to; they felt too clean” (ET XIII 391). This suggests that at least one reason the concept of good and evil is needed is the human potential for betraying egoistic innocence.

Unlike Nietzsche, Rand does not pretend that everything standing as good or evil is infirm and is malleable by those who are the meaning of the earth. Roark eventually comes to pain from not having known that helping Peter in design matters was wrong (HR XII 664). Roark is Rand’s meaning of the earth, in place of Nietzsche’s superhuman, but she does not make the fact that Roark chooses an action be the source of its moral correctness or incorrectness.

Right after Peter’s scene with Catherine, he has a scene with Dominique. She offers to marry him. That would have advantages for his public personae, but marrying her instead of Catherine would be untrue to what little is himself. “He knew that he was violently alive, that he was forcing the stupor into his muscles and into his mind, because he wished to escape the responsibility of consciousness” (ET XIV 393; cf. AS 1148). Humans have a responsibility to be conscious, to connect, to integrate; but they can avoid consciousness at least to some degree. Keating marries Dominique. He is a chronic evader when it comes to self-awareness.

In Roark’s courtroom soliloquy, he argues that creation and thought are necessities of human survival, that they are only possible by individual minds, that creative thinkers live for the truth borne in their creations, they live for themselves, and they need independence and freedom to function (cf. Z I “On the Way of the Creator”). “‘Altruism is the doctrine which demands that man live for others and place others above self’” (HR XVIII 738). Altruism is evil because it destroys the human creator, the font of human life. Egoism that includes the sacrifice of others to oneself, such as the egoism of Nietzsche, is evil because it blocks the self-sufficiency, the integrity, required for human life, whether the life of a profound architect or such lives as sit on the jury Roark selects for his trial: “two executives of industrial concerns, two engineers, a mathematician, a truck driver, a bricklayer, an electrician, a gardener, and three factory workers” (HR XVIII 733–34). Not to Nietzsche’s taste for equal rights (BGE 265; TI 48).

In the opening of Galt’s radio speech in Atlas Shrugged, Rand sets aside traditional bases for morality. She sets aside mystical and social bases. An individual needs morality to sustain his or her life, even for life apart from society. Rand rejects the Christian and post-Christian distinction between the self-interested and the moral. They are one. The moral virtues of her fully developed ethics are integral with all the big choices in one’s life. Morality in Rand’s meaning “is a code of values to guide man’s choices and actions—the choices and actions that determine the purpose and course of his life” (OE 13).

The basis of Rand’s morality is individual human life. The virtues she identifies as needed by anyone for best life are guides for their life. Rand’s ethics are aids for crafting one’s own lived moral ideal. Your ideal is to be the life you might make. Other particular ideal characters and lives can inspire, but they cannot substitute (AS 1017, 1058–59). In this way, Rand’s ethics is a little like Nietzsche’s individualist approach to value.

However, contrary to Nietzsche’s admonitions, Rand proposes values and virtues as right for everyone. It is life itself that is standard for any genuine virtue or ideal (and life itself is not will to power). It is rationality, not irrationality, that enables human lives, every single one of them. Rand stands against “the kind of ‘Nietzschean egoists’. . . who believe that any action, regardless of its nature, is good if it is intended for one’s own benefit” (VS x). Intended self-benefit is necessary but not sufficient for that which is morally right in Rand’s rational egoism (on insufficiency see further Branden 1962a; 1962b; Rand 1974).

I should pause over the necessity of intended self-benefit for correct values. Not all of one’s potential selves are worth benefitting. Among those who are, Rand maintains that only potential selves whose every value is intended to benefit themselves hold entirely correct values. “Concern with his own interests is the essence of a moral existence, and . . . man must be the beneficiary of his own moral actions. / The actor must always be the beneficiary of his action” (VS ix–x; also OE 46–47).

One is a beneficiary in ways other than by one’s resulting positive feelings, because one is a self that is not only feelings. Man’s self is “‘that entity that is his consciousness. To think, to feel, to judge, to act are functions of the ego’” (HR XVIII 737). It is the self—one’s soul—that has thoughts, meaning, will, values, desires, and feeling (GW II 454).

Roark loves the buildings he designs not only because of the positive responses they elicit in him. Dagny loves diesel-electric locomotives and the minds that create them not only because of the positive responses they elicit in her. It is not plausible that when she finds that man at the end of the rails, the one for whom she has longed since her youth, she will love him only because of the positive responses he evokes in her.

There is, however, a thread of subjectivity in Rand’s conception of value and love and normative selfishness that is puckering up the fabric. In my judgment, that thread is unnecessary and should be removed. Speaking metaphorically, the solemnity of looking at the sky does not come only from the uplift of one’s head (HR V 598). In extreme desire for another person, the other does not recede in importance compared to the desire (GW IX 539). A rational desire to help someone in need is animated not only by “your own selfish pleasure in the value of his person and struggle” (AS 1060, emphasis added). Rather, it is enough for rational egoism that, by design, no actions be contrary self-benefit (of a self worth benefitting). The requirement that all actions should intend primarily self-benefit should be dropped. In this way, one can love persons simply for the particular ends-in-themselves that they are.

The man who dynamited Cortlandt rises, takes the oath, and stands before the court audience. “Roark stood before each of them as each man stands in the innocence of his own mind. But Roark stood like that before a hostile crowd—and they knew suddenly that no hatred was possible to him. For the flash of an instant, they grasped the manner of his consciousness. Each asked himself: do I need anyone’s approval?—does it matter?—am I tied? And for that instant, each man was free—free enough to feel benevolence for every other man in the room” (HR XVIII 736).

Rand takes benevolence to be people’s natural state when they are not constrained by law or morality to take basic direction from others rather than from themselves and to benefit others rather than themselves. David Kelley has added to Rand’s ethics by reckoning the ways in which benevolence is in one’s self-interest and arguing that the virtue of productivity has a cohort virtue in benevolence towards others (1996). In Kelley’s view, although benevolence is not an obligation by way of respecting the rights of others, it is an obligation to oneself. I think only some occasions of right benevolence are morally required; other occasions are morally permitted, but not required, not an obligation. Be that as it may, my dissent registered to Rand’s account of rational egoism applies to Kelley’s as well. Both of them correctly recognize that genuine benevolent responsiveness is not educed primarily by motives of self-sacrifice. Both are wrong in not recognizing that the genuine, innocent response of benevolence is also not educed primarily by motives of self-benefit.

There is a common modern assumption that value implies sentience (e.g. William James). That is not the position we find in Nietzsche’s mature view. The will to power is the structure of value as the structure of all living things.

Early Rand evidently held, contrary mature Nietzsche, that value implies sentience. Life cannot become value until it can know of itself. Kira says to Andrei: “‘What do you think is living in me? Why do you think I’m alive? Because I have a stomach and eat and digest food? Because I breathe and work and produce more food to digest? Or because I know what I want and that something that knows how to want—isn’t that life itself?’” (WL 1936, 496; quoted in Wright 2005, 203). This is not a denial that animal and vegetative life are life. It is a claim that preciousness of life enters the world only in sentient beings who know and culture their desires.

In the manuscript for Anthem (1938), Rand has the protagonist Equality 7-2521 reflect: “I will, for I know my desires, and I am free in that which I desire” (quoted in Milgram 2005, 19). He is not thinking simply that he is presently free from the coercive orders of other men. He is saying that man’s will is free by nature. To be directed by one’s own will is the natural state of human beings. In the 1938 edition, Equality writes: “My will, which chooses, and orders, and creates. My will, the master which knows no masters. My will, the liberator and conqueror. My will, which is the thin flame, still and holy, in the shrine of my body, my body which is but the shrine of my will. Many words have been granted me, and some are wise, and some are false, but only three are holy: ‘I will it’” (quoted in Mayhew 2005b, 40).

Early Rand held to considerable freedom of the will, contrary Marx and Nietzsche. The will for Rand is spirit. Human will, joy, and thought are of the inner self, which is spirit. If the will were only drives of the body, it would not be free or sacred. This sense of sacredness does not entail belief in the supernatural nor opposition to reason, which is itself part of the holy self.

We have seen that in The Fountainhead, too, deterministic materialist reduction of human life is rejected by Rand (PK VI 77; HR VII 615; HR X 649). Deeper than the bones, for man, is his soul (GW III 471). Roark says to Wynand “‘we live in our minds, and existence is the attempt to bring that life into physical reality, to state it in gesture and form’” (HR II 558). All living creatures have a life source, which is their constitutional idea. Failure of organism integrity, compromise of its life source, is death (PK XV 205). Similarly, to set against the central constitutional idea particular to one’s self is a failure of an integrity that may be called moral integrity (ibid.). A person of integrity is self-motivated, a self-sufficient spirit (HR XI 660). Life itself for man requires human consciousness, which is independent judgment (HR XI 659). Life itself for man requires creators (HR XVIII 737). The vision, strength, and courage of a creator comes “from his own spirit” (ibid.). Human creators are “a first cause, a fount of energy, a life force . . .” (ibid.).

For all individuals, not only extraordinary creators, seeking the best, loving one’s work, and choosing independence is seeking, loving, and choosing life—one’s own life—against death (ET XI 349; HR XVIII 739–40). In her fully developed ethical system of Atlas Shrugged, the choice of life or death remains implicit in one’s choices for virtues such as integrity, productiveness, and independence.

In Fountainhead loyalty to reason had been a virtue alongside virtues such as integrity and independence. In Atlas loyalty to truth in all things by reason, which is termed rationality, is the premier virtue. And the choice to think becomes the life-or-death choice underlying all the life-or-death virtues of Rand’s full system: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, and pride (see also Wright 2009, 258–62, 265–70). “That which you call your soul or spirit is your consciousness, and that which you call ‘free will’ is your mind’s freedom to think or not, the only will you have, your only freedom, the choice that controls all the choices you make and determines your life and character” (AS 1017; see further a, b, c).

The mind’s grasp of reality at the level required for human survival is not an automatic, physically determined process like sensory perception (AS 1012–13, 1041). Furthermore, the human mind has some fundamental freedom to orient itself to reality or to obscure reality by evasion (or to revolt outright against reason and reality, as with Toohey). It has some power of self-deception. Rand’s Galt says: “‘It is not mere death that the morality of sacrifice holds out to you as an ideal, but death by slow torture’. / ‘Do not remind me that it pertains only to life on this earth. I am concerned with no other. Neither are you’” (emphasis added; cf. Nietzsche in Pippin 2010, 85–104).

Value comes into the world by and only by the emergence of organisms out of inanimate chemicals (AS 994, 1012–13, 1016). Every organism’s life is “a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action. If an organism fails in that action, it dies; its chemical elements remain, but its life goes out of existence. It is only the concept of ‘Life’ that makes the concept ‘Value’ possible. It is only to a living entity that things can be good or evil” (AS 1012–13).

Organic value is the deepest basis of moral value, there are no genuine nobilities transcending moral value, and the structure of organic value is not will to power.

In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. . . . Do not let the hero in your soul perish . . . .

Fight for the value of your person. Fight for the virtue of your pride. Fight for the essence of that which is man: for his sovereign rational mind. Fight with the radiant certainty and the absolute rectitude of knowing that yours is the Morality of Life and that yours is the battle for any achievement, any value, any grandeur, any goodness, any joy that has ever existed on this earth.

“I swear—by my life and my love of it—that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” (AS 1069)

Power-lust is a weed that grows only in the vacant lots of an abandoned mind (AS 1045).

“Every living species has a way of survival demanded by its nature” (AS 1014). That goes for plants, insects, and right on up to man. A fish cannot live out of water, a dog cannot live without its sense of smell, and neither can a man survive any-which-way-whatever. Man has an identity, a nature. Man’s life is made possible only by thinking and achievement (AS 1014–15). Correct virtues—whether peculiar of an extraordinary creator, or peculiar of an excellent practitioner of a particular profession, or common for all good persons—correct virtues are actions by which one gains or keeps correct values (AS 1012). The correct actions and correct values pertinent to every individual are those judged by the standard of Man’s Life to “the purpose of preserving, fulfilling, and enjoying the irreplaceable value which is your life” (AS 1014).

In Rand’s characterization of life, every aspect of being alive, including growth, “involves a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action” (ITOE 81, 24–25).

For every living species, growth is a necessity of survival. Life is motion, a process of self-sustaining action that an organism must carry on in order to remain in existence. . . .

An animal’s capacity for development ends at physical maturity and thereafter its growth consists of the action necessary to maintain itself at a fixed level; after reaching maturity, it does not, to any significant extent, continue to grow in efficacy . . . . But man’s capacity for development does not end at physical maturity . . . . His ability to think, to learn, to discover new and better ways of dealing with reality, to expand the range of his efficacy, to grow intellectually, is an open door to a road that has no end.

When man discovered how to make fire to keep himself warm, his need for thought and effort was not ended; . . . when he moved his life expectancy . . . his need of thought and effort was not ended . . . .

Every achievement of man is a value in itself, but it is also a stepping-stone to greater achievements and values. Life is growth . . . . Every step upward opens to man a wider range of action and achievement—and creates the need for that achievement. . . . Survival demands constant growth and creativeness.

Constant growth is, further, a psychological need of man. (Branden 1963, 121–22)

As in Greek philosophy, psychological well-being and happiness is serious business in Rand’s philosophy.* “Just as a man is free to attempt to survive in any manner, but will perish unless he lives as his nature requires, so he is free to seek his happiness in any mindless fraud, but the torture of frustration is all he will find, unless he seeks the happiness proper to man” (AS 1014). Think of Peter Keating (ET XI 341–43; GW II 449–50). (See also Enright 1991;* Wright 2005; Salmieri 2009, 236–45; and Locke 2009, 323–32.)

In The Fountainhead Rand sometimes calls certain human behaviors instinctual. Speaking to Roark, the sympathetic character Kent Lansing says: “‘Men are brothers, you know, and they have a great instinct for brotherhood. . . .’” (ET X 332). Rand also writes: “People began to ooze towards Ellsworth Toohey: the right kind of people, those who soon found him to be a spiritual necessity. The other kind did not come; there seemed to be an instinct about it” (ET IX 320). In the later years of the story, when Toohey has stopped promoting the career of Keating, the latter “tried not to think of Ellsworth Toohey. A dim instinct told him that he could preserve a precarious security of spirit so long as he did not touch upon that subject” (HR VII 612). Wynand says to Roark that second-handers will “‘accept anything except a man who stands alone. They recognize him at once. By instinct’” (HR XII 659).

That talk of instincts, which humans have about themselves and each other, probably only meant either a deep-seated knack not requiring an articulated reasoning process or a deep-seated disposition manifest in feelings. There was a different, more elaborate, concept of instinct in use in nineteenth- and twentieth-century scientific characterization of animal behavior. Schopenhauer wrote of instinct in this sense as requiring will, perception, and some apprehension of elementary causal relations. In his characterization, animal instincts are infallible, like perception, and they are supplanted by reason in man (WWP I.2.136; I.2.180). Animal instincts, such as nest-building in birds or web-spinning in spiders, are not guided by the ends towards which the animal works. Schopenhauer’s picture of an animal faculty of instinct was in the tradition of medieval Aristotelians, but without supposing the faculty to have been instilled in animals by an intelligent Creator. (On concepts of instincts before Charles Darwin, see Richards 1987, 20–70.)

Like Schopenhauer, Rand saw humans as needing to use intelligence for survival. “Man cannot survive except through his mind. . . . He must plant his food or hunt it. To plant, he needs a process of thought. To hunt, he needs weapons, and to make weapons—a process of thought . . . . Everything we are and everything we have comes from a single attribute of man—the function of his reasoning mind” (HR XVIII 737).

Nietzsche writes of all sorts of social instincts: an instinct for mediocrity (BGE 206); a cunning instinct of the middle classes against higher spirits (BGE 218); feminine instincts (BGE 239); and instincts for rank (BGE 263). Beneath all faith, or belief without conscious reason, is instinct (BGE 191). Beneath unegoistic morality is the herd instinct (GM I 2). We have a tendency towards self-preservation, and this is a common consequence of the more fundamental constant drive of life itself, the drive of will to power (BGE 13). Social instincts, too, are manifestations of organic will to power. The instinct for social freedom is a will to power (GM II 18).

In the walls of society and peace, the human animal lost his fitness to wilderness, war, prowling, and adventure. His instincts became disvalued. He lost his former guides, his drives regulating, unconscious, and infallible. These, unfortunate human animals, “were reduced to thinking, inferring, reckoning, coordinating cause and effect, . . . they were reduced to their ‘consciousness’, their weakest and most fallible organ” (GM II 16; also AC 14). Inhibited from their outward discharge, the instincts of the human animal turned inward, giving rise to the inner world called soul and the misery of bad conscience.

The change from wild to civil, from unrestrained instinct to bad conscience “was not a gradual or voluntary one and did not represent an organic adaptation to new conditions” (GM II 17). Rather, institutional organization of nomadic men was effected by the violence of “some pack of blond beast of prey, a conquering and master race” (ibid.). These hypothetical unconscious creators of social structure were themselves without bad conscience, though they begat it.

Civilized, man turned himself into “an adventure, a torture chamber, an uncertain and dangerous wilderness” (GM II 16). Now man “gives rise to an interest, a tension, a hope, almost a certainty, as if within him something were announcing and preparing itself, as if man were not a goal but only a way, an episode, a bridge, a great promise” (ibid.). Tomorrow, the overman.

“The greatest part of conscious thought must still be attributed to instinctual activity, and this is even the case for philosophical thought. . . . Most of a philosopher’s conscious thought is secretly directed and forced into determinate channels by the instincts” (BGE 3). In Nietzsche’s view, most of conceptual consciousness is directed by instinct, which is activity of body, physical, not spiritual. “Write with blood, and you will experience that blood is spirit” (Z I “On Reading and Writing”). Said by a materialist, that line means also: spirit is blood.

I do not mean to suggest that mature Rand was allied to spiritualism in contrast to materialism. She rejected mysticism of the spirit equally with mysticism of muscle (AS 1027, 1035–39, 1042–47). “‘You are an indivisible entity of matter and consciousness’” (AS 1029). The parts of consciousness over which humans have free first-person control are not something beyond the biological nature of humans. I should mention that Rand took each person and his or her life to be something absolutely irreplaceable, therefore unrepeatable (unlike Nietzsche). So it is not clear that she would accept the traditional conception of free will as the ability to have done something different in exactly the same circumstances, including brain state. It may be enough for the physical possibility of what Rand takes to be intelligent free choice that it be free of determining physical causes that are not neurological correlates of one’s thinking self (cf. Peikoff 1991, 55, 64–65; Pippin 2010, 68–84).

Rand denies humans possess animal instincts. The concept desire should be distinguished from the concept instinct. A desire to live is not an instinct for self-preservation. One may desire to live, but that of itself would not include the knowledge required for living (AS 1013). Such knowledge is not automatic in the way of instincts. One has no instinct for tool making. Acquisition of human knowledge requires the voluntary action that is thinking (AS 1043–44). Not only conceptual thought, but even the desire to live is not automatic for human beings (AS 1013). Furthermore, man’s “moral instinct” is nothing more than his reason (AS 1017). Lastly: “Reason does not work automatically; thinking is not a mechanical process; the connections of logic are not made by instincts” (AS 1012).

Humans have a conceptual capability for giving integration to their existence. Man’s consciousness is an “enormously powerful integrating mechanism” given by his organic nature. “His only choice is to drive it or to be driven by it. Since an act of volition—a process of thought—is required to use the mechanism for a cognitive purpose, man can evade that effort. But if he evades, chance takes over: the mechanism functions on its own like a machine without a driver; it goes on integrating blindly, incongruously, at random” (PSL 27; contrast with GS V 360). It is then no longer an instrument of cognition, but bringer of delusion, self-torture, and fear (PSL 27; also AS 1037).

Ayn Rand did not find the coming of reason and morality into the pre-human race to be in any way unfortunate. Inner self-torture of a human being is from weakened reason. In health and innocence, there is indeed inner tension and promise in the human soul. Not for the coming of beings beyond the human. For the coming creations of man. So many days have not yet broken.


References

Branden, N. 1962a. Counterfeit Individualism. In Rand 1964.
——. 1962b. Isn’t Everyone Selfish? In Rand 1964.
——. 1963. The Divine Right of Stagnation. In Rand 1964.

Enright, M. 1991. Why Man Needs Approval. Objectivity 1(2):67–93.

Kelley, D. 1996. Unrugged Individualism: The Selfish Basis of Benevolence.
Institute of Objectivist Studies.

Locke, E.A. 2009. The Traits of Business Heroes in Atlas Shrugged. In Mayhew 2009.

Mayhew, R., editor. 2005a. Essays in Ayn Rand’s Anthem. Lexington.
——. 2005b. Anthem: ’38 & ’46. In Mayhew 2005a.
——. 2009. Essays on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Lexington.

Milgram, S. 2004. From Airtight to We the Living. In Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living. R. Mayhew, editor. Lexington.
——. 2005. Anthem in Manuscript: Finding the Words. In Mayhew 2005a.

Nietzsche, F. 1887. The Gay Science. J. Nauckhoff, trans. 2001. Cambridge.
——. 1883–85. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. A. Del Caro, trans. 2006. Cambridge.
——. 1886. Beyond Good and Evil. J. Norman, trans. 2002. Cambridge.
——. 1887. On the Genealogy of Morals. W. Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale, trans. Vintage.
——. 1888. The Anti-Christ. J. Norman, trans. 2005. Cambridge.
——. 1888. Twilight of the Idols. J. Norman, trans. 2005. Cambridge.

Pippin, R.B. 2010. Nietzsche, Psychology, & First Philosophy. Chicago.

Peikoff, L. 1991. Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. Dutton.

Rand, A. 1943. The Fountainhead. Bobbs-Merrill.
——. 1957. Atlas Shrugged. Random House.
——. 1960. For the New Intellectual. In Rand 1961b.
——. 1961a. The Objectivist Ethics. In Rand 1964.
——. 1961b. For the New Intellectual. New American Library.
——. 1964. The Virtue of Selfishness. New American Library.
——. 1966. Philosophy and Sense of Life. In Rand 1975.
——. 1966–67. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. 2nd ed. Meridian.
——. 1974. Selfishness without a Self. In Rand 1982.
——. 1975. The Romantic Manifesto. 2nd ed. Signet.
——. 1982. Philosophy: Who Needs It. New American Library.

Richards, R.J. 1987. Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behavior. Chicago.

Salmieri, G. 2009. Atlas Shrugged on the Role of the Mind in Man’s Existence. In Mayhew 2009.

Schopenhauer, A. 1819. The World as Will and Presentation. Vol. 1. R.E. Aquila, trans. Pearson-Longman.

Wright, D. 2005. Needs of the Psyche in Ayn Rand’s Early Ethical Thought. In Mayhew 2005a.
——. 2009. Ayn Rand’s Ethics: From The Fountainhead to Atlas Shrugged. In Mayhew 2009.

Edited by Stephen Boydstun, 10 July 2010 - 02:55 AM.


#19 daunce lynam

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 11:00 PM

Claiming Nobility

Among the aphorisms composing Nietzsche’s 1878 work Human, All Too Human, is this one:

Wealth as the Origin of a Nobility of Birth. – Wealth necessarily engenders an aristocracy of race, for it permits one to select the fairest women, pay the best teachers, grants to a man cleanliness, time for physical exercises, an above all freedom from deadening labour. To this extent it creates all the conditions for the production over a few generations of a noble and fair demeanour, even noble and fair behaviour, in men: greater freedom of feeling, the absence of the wretched and petty, of abasement before breadgivers, of penny-pinching. . . (479).

In We the Living (1937), the reader learns of heroine Kira that she

was born in the gray granite house on Kamenostrovsky. In that vast mansion Galina Petrovna [Kira’s mother] had a boudoir where, at night, a maid in black fastened the clasps of her diamond necklaces; and a reception room where, her taffeta petticoats rustling solemnly, she entertained ladies with sables and lorgnettes. . . . / Kira had an English governess, a thoughtful young lady with a lovely smile. She liked her governess, but often preferred to be alone—and was left alone. . . . / . . . The first thing that Kira learned about life and the first thing that her elders learned, dismayed, about Kira, was the joy of being alone. (36–37)

At eighteen the eyes of Kira “looked at people quietly, directly, with something that people called arrogance, but which was only a deep, confident calm that seemed to tell men her sight was too clear and none of their favorite binoculars were needed to help her look at life” (35). It seemed that her body’s “sharp movements were the unconscious reflection of a dancing, laughing soul” (35).

In Atlas Shrugged (1957), hero Francisco d’Anconia "was the last descendant of one of the noblest families of Argentina. He owned cattle ranches, coffee plantations and most of the copper mines of Chile. He owned half of South America and sundry mines scattered through the United States as small change” (53). One generation after another, “The d’Anconia heirs had been men of unusual ability, but none of them could match what Francisco d’Anconia promised to become. It was as if the centuries had sifted the family’s qualities through a fine mesh, had discarded the irrelevant, the inconsequential, the weak, and had let nothing through except pure talent; as if chance, for once, had achieved an entity devoid of the accidental” (93).

The boy Francisco would be brought every summer, by “a stern South American tutor,” to spend a month at the Taggart estate on the Hudson (90). The Taggart children, James and Dagny, are future heirs of a transcontinental railroad. A friend of their father once remarked of Francisco “That boy is vulnerable. He has too great a capacity for joy” (97). When they were teenagers, Dagny once asked Francisco “‘What is the most depraved type of human being?’” He replied “‘The man without a purpose’” (99).

Nietzsche looks on wealth of the nobility as making possible the development of the noble in a man. A noble man “has become accustomed to desiring nothing of men and always bestowing gifts” (497). Rand’s youthful heroines and heroes are self-sufficient in disposition, but they are focused on their present and future creative productivity. Kira builds a raft to ride a rapid river, and she takes up the study of engineering to build great bridges; Francisco builds an elevator to ascend a cliff, and he studies everything bearing on the enterprises he will inherit. Francisco is not focused, at least not at his outset, on the benefits his future productivity can bring to his fellow human beings. He acknowledges no social responsibility concerning the fortune he will inherit. His focus, like the focus of the Taggart heir Dagny, is on finding ways of increasing the fortune.

Rand looks on the fortunes of wealthy families as the results of the noble in a man. For a family fortune in her fiction, she wants to tell the story of the man who first made the fortune. His traits are noble traits, under Rand’s cast of the noble in human beings. The children of the wealthy are indeed advantaged in their education. Some of such children will not be noble humans, neither under the cast of Nietzsche nor under the cast of Rand. On that Nietzsche and Rand concur.

That a conception of a new nobility, for the modern age, should include the traits of being a self-starter and having a self-sufficient disposition is agreed by Nietzsche and Rand. Nietzsche writes in The Gay Science (1882):

The Ultimate Noblemindedness – So what makes a person ‘noble’? Certainly not making sacrifices; even those burning with lust make sacrifices. Certainly not following some passion, for there are contemptible passions. Certainly not that one does something for others without selfishness: perhaps no one is more consistently selfish than the noble one. – Rather , the passion that overcomes the noble one is a singularity, and he fails to realize this: the use of a rare and singular standard and almost a madness; the feeling of heat in things that feel cold to everyone else; a hitting upon values for which the scale has not yet been invented; a sacrifice on altars for an unknown god; a courage without any desire for honors; a self-sufficiency that overflows and communicates to men and things. (55)

Rand’s Kira is one who feels the heat in things that feel cold to everyone else.

She stopped suddenly, as they walked down a street in the evening, and pointed to a strange angle of white wall over battered roofs, luminous on a black sky in the glare of an old lantern, with a dark, barred window like that of a dungeon, and she whispered “How beautiful!”. . . . / . . . She had the same feeling for white statues of ancient gods against black velvet in museums, and for steel shavings and rusty dust and hissing torches and muscles tense as electric wires in the iron roar of a building under construction. (38–39)

All of the traits Nietzsche takes for admirable, and names noble, in the portion of §55 of Gay Science that I quoted above are also taken by Rand as admirable. One of them is as old as Socrates (and Homer?). That is “courage without any desire for honor.” There was another element in ancient conceptions of nobility somewhat at odds with that one: care for one’s reputation.

Nietzsche hewed closer to the ancients, than did Rand, in what he would include in a new conception of nobility as an ideal. He writes in Daybreak (1881): "We are nobler. – Loyalty, magnanimity, care for one’s reputation: these three united in a single disposition – we call noble, and in this quality we excel the Greeks. Let us not abandon it, as we might be tempted to do as a result of feeling that the ancient objects of these virtues have lost in estimation (and rightly), but see to it that this precious inherited drive is applied to new objects" (199).

Nietzsche emphasized magnanimity; Rand did not. Nietzsche embraced the ancient noble hallmark leisure as fertile field required for the development of the noble youth and for creativity of the noble man. He writes in Gay Science:

Leisure and idleness. – . . . How frugal our educated and uneducated have become concerning “joy”! How they are becoming increasingly suspicious of all joy! More and more, work gets all good conscience on its side; the desire for joy already calls itself a “need to recuperate” and is starting to be ashamed of itself. “One owes it to one’s health” – that is what one says when caught on an excursion in the countryside. Soon we may well reach the point where one can’t give in to the desire for a vita contemplativa (that is, taking a walk with ideas and friends) without self-contempt and a bad conscience. Well, formerly it was the other way around: work was afflicted with a bad conscience. A person of good family concealed the fact that he worked if need compelled him to work. (329)

Rand’s noble ones take their greatest joy in productive work, most particularly commercially valuable work. Two things were impossible to the youth Francisco: “to stand still or to move aimlessly” (94). Eddie, a childhood friend of Francisco’s through the Taggart children, once asked Francisco, “as they stood by the tracks of the Taggart station, ‘you’ve been just about everywhere in the world. What’s the most important thing on earth?’ ‘This’, answered Francisco, pointing to the emblem TT [Taggart Transcontinental] on the front of an engine” (95).

Nietzsche saw something savage, ignobly savage, “in the way Americans strive for gold; and their breathless haste in working (GS 329). The only way he sees the arts of buying and selling—the art of trade—as something noble is under a wild fancy of a future possible world in which trade is no longer a necessity, but is engaged in by some individuals “as a luxury of sentiment” (GS 31).

In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Part III (1884):

Before Sunrise
. . . “By chance” – that is the oldest nobility in the world, I give it back to all things, I redeemed them from their servitude under purpose. / This freedom and cheerfulness of the sky I placed like an azure bell over all things when I taught that over them and through them no “eternal will” – wills. / This mischief and this folly I placed in place of that will when I taught: “With all things one thing is impossible – rationality!” / A bit of reason to be sure, . . . .

It is rationality, not nobility, that Rand will unveil as the center of that in human being that is to be admired (in Fountainhead, and all the more in Atlas). That idea has a long philosophic pedigree, though Rand will cast the concept of rationality anew. Rand’s noble ones are rather venturesome; they engage in risk, particularly, purposeful entrepreneurial risk. So chance is part of their world and is not entirely unwelcome.

The reader may have noticed that Nietzsche’s embrace of the nobility of leisure and contemplative life is in the step of Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics X) and Greek philosophers in general. In Happy Lives and the Highest Good, Gabriel Richardson Lear argues that the virtues of courage, temperance, and greatness of soul (notice, magnanimity is under that last one; cf. pride in Rand’s ethics)

are fine because they show the agent’s commitment to the most excellent leisurely use of reason. In the press of practical affairs, the virtuous agent orients his actions—both in terms of the states of affairs they aim to produce and, more important, in what they celebrate—toward a conception of the human good that is both leisurely and excellently rational. This emphasis on the leisurely use of reason turns out to be significant. For when we get to book X, Aristotle will argue that the most leisurely use of reason, and therefore the use of reason most suited to be an end, is philosophical contemplation. (125)

This Aristotelian human ideal is too rational and systematic to suit Nietzsche. For Rand, of course, its orientation of reason runs the wrong way. Reason keeping the trains running is second to none in nobility, and philosophy protecting and nurturing that reason is philosophy most fine.

References

Nietzsche, F. 1878. Human, All Too Human – A Book for Free Spirits. R.J. Hollingdale, translator. 1986. Cambridge.
——. 1881. Daybreak – Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality. M. Clark and B. Leiter, translators. 1997. Cambridge.
——. 1882. The Gay Science. J. Nauckhoff, translator. 2001. Cambridge.
——. 1884. Thus Spoke Zarathustra – A Book for All and None (III). A. Del Caro, translator. 2006. Cambridge.

Rand, A. 1936 (1959). We the Living. Signet.
——. 1957. Atlas Shrugged. Random House.

Richardson Lear, G. 2004. Happiest Lives and the Highest Good – An Essay on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Princeton.


I am quoting this wonderful essay in full, just because if anybody hasn;t read it, they ought to.

I came across it because I was looking for a quote from Stephen Boydstun, which I could't find. It was about flowers blooming, from the graves of those whose ideas and selves can never die -- I needed to read it again, just now.

The Rand/ Nietszche connection is being somewhat addressed on OL at present, and this is a masterful addition to its understanding.

#20 Roger Bissell

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 06:55 PM

. . .
Other studies of Nietzsche and Rand, additional to the present thread, are these:
. . .
A Symposium on Friedrich Nietzsche & Ayn Rand (2010)
– Stephen Hicks, Lester Hunt, Adam Reed (& Ronald Merrill), Peter Saint-Andre, and Robert Powell
The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 10(2), Spring 2009

Other studies of Nietzsche and Rand, additional to the present thread, are these:

[...]

A Symposium on Friedrich Nietzsche & Ayn Rand (2010)
– Stephen Hicks, Lester Hunt, Adam Reed (& Ronald Merrill), Peter Saint-Andre, and Robert Powell
The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 10(2), Spring 2009



A minor correction: the complete list of authors for this symposium should read:

-- Stephen Hicks, Lester Hunt, Adam Reed (& Ronald Merrill), Peter Saint-Andre, Roger Bissell, and Robert Powell.

Also, some good news: the entire issue is available in free downloadable PDF format at:

http://www.aynrandst..._n2/10_2toc.asp

My own essay, "Will the Real Apollo Please Stand Up? Rand, Nietzsche, and the Reason-Emotion Dichotomy," is located here:

http://www.aynrandst...0_2rbissell.pdf

Cheers!
REB
Objectivism, properly used, is a tool for living, not a weapon with which to bash those one disagrees with.




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