Francisco Ferrer

Did Marx Teach Rand How to Think About Capitalism?

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Tony,

I wonder if you completely missed the word "invent" in my description of what I meant by "the proclaiming of opposites."

I was talking about her tendency to invent psychological categories and descriptions which were the opposite of something of which she approved.

Ellen

I noticed it, Ellen. For her to "invent" psychological categories and opposites, would point to some degree of guile on Rand's part, rather like constructing a fictitious opponent to strengthen one's own position and resolve. I've never disputed in the past that Rand had her faking moments - e.g. The Affair - and was wrong in some surface judgments, but her intellectual honesty has been above reproach, I'm convinced.

The question is: Do such psychological (or psycho-epistemological) contrasts exist in men - in reality?

Take the AA prayer. Surely, it follows that at least one person (R. Niebuhr) who wrote it, was aware that he, and others, lived by confused premises. Pre-empting Rand. Men acting futilely against circumstances they couldn't change--or, in fatalist resignation, not acting when they should and could be effectual. For me, that seems a footnote on the history of men. It also reminds me of my own past, when indecisiveness froze me from doing something I should - or conversely, when I impetuously challenged a status quo to no avail. No, I think what Rand put forward is all too characteristic of the un-wise human situation, which often can't identify one from the other and rushes around aimlessly between the two.

(Sense of life, another example you raise, I'll steer clear of...)

Once identified, first- and second-handers are highly visible to observation, don't you think? Not, I must emphasise, that individuals are clearly, always all one or the other. It's one of those ~predominant~ characteristics in a man's/woman's character, and/or their conscious convictions. While I have known a few real first-handed individualists, as a sign of the times I notice so many, many more who primarily seek the collective's authority and approval, by a collectivist morality. As usual, psycho-epistemology corresponds to philosophy as (here) one's first-handedness corresponds to one's independence of mind, I think. (Or as sense of life to metaphysical value-judgments, heh.)

It appears to me to take uncommon depth - actually, empathy, in its true sense - to pull off these feats of insight as Rand did.

Four eyes are better than two. I appreciate you keeping an eye out for the source of the quotation.

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First hander/second hander leaves no room for third and fourth handers.

--Brant

after Branden it became social metaphysician or not a social metaphysician and he pretty much gave up using the term in psychotherapy after his association with Rand

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It is doubtless an inelegant, polarizing term, too encouraging of unthinking application and instant judgmentation.

The reality remains, nevertheless.

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I noticed it [the word "invent" in my description], Ellen. For her to "invent" psychological categories and opposites, would point to some degree of guile on Rand's part, rather like constructing a fictitious opponent to strengthen one's own position and resolve. I've never disputed in the past that Rand had her faking moments -with The Affair - but while wrong in some surface judgments, her intellectual honesty has been above approach - I am convinced.

I don't agree that for Rand to "invent" psychological categories and opposites would necessarily "point to some degree of guile on Rand's part."

In fact, I didn't mean the word "invent" as an accusation of guile. I think that she probably believed that the oppositions she described were real ones. However, the particular examples I cited are ones where she couldn't possibly have had adequate evidence for making the assertions she made. I think that by the time Rand wrote the essays from which I quoted, she'd become way over-cocky about her own powers of detection and discernment.

She wasn't always like that.

As you've probably noticed, I've been looking through the Letters and Journals volumes in connection with issues which have come up on this thread. Each time I look through those books, I'm reinforced in an impression I've had for a long while of how different Rand seems in her pre-Atlas years from her characteristic manner in her post-Atlas writing.

I date the change to Galt's Speech, the style she developed in writing that.

She told Barbara that writing Galt's Speech was like "drops of water in a desert torture" (quoting from memory - the wording was close to that if not exactly that).

I believe that it would have been very difficult to achieve the tone maintained in Galt's Speech. The speech asserts, it doesn't argue, and it has a condemnatory quality throughout - condemnatory of supposed defaults, compromises, etc.

It's a speech on the attack.

I think she mastered the style in the process of the two years' ordeal of writing Galt's Speech - and then made it her characteristic style from there on.

Plus, she was attacked, unmercifully and unfairly, following the publication of Atlas Shrugged, with the result, I think, of producing in her a characteristic belligerence against and intolerance of disagreement which she did not display in the pre-Atlas years.

Plus, there was her relationship with Nathaniel Branden and the mutually reinforcing dynamic of the two of them thinking they were seeing it up in analysis of psychological mechanisms.

Plus, she seems always to have been prone to seeing things in terms of two competing principles, a type of approach she'd used to major dramatic effect in The Fountainhead.

Thus, she went overboard and began to presume wholesale that if people weren't X, they were an opposite not-X.

I'll pause there. What I'm trying to explain in this part is that, no, I'm not accusing her of guile, but I think that she did develop a characteristic presumptuousness about motivation which led her to make assertions of contrasts for which she lacked proper evidence.

Ellen

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Well Ellen, it can be that one reaches a little too high (wrt: conceptual opposites and categories)... but better, for any rigorous thinker, than under-reaching, no? Realities and experience will be the final arbiter, and far as my exposure goes, betting against Rand's assessments is nearly always imprudent. Not that I'm saying you are.

For me, I have less interest in the style of how she did things, or when - less and less, all the time - for me it's all in the 'what' and 'why'; of what she envisaged in her meta-view of mankind. At that stratospheric level of observation, she identified what she thought as basic wrongs and how they originated, and where they were heading - believing she could set them right with persuasion, through her art and her argument. Saving mankind from itself. That's a bigger job than the President's, the great scientists -- or whomever one can imagine - taking a lifetime's commitment.

Exhausted, towards the end, who can fault her if she panicked when her ideas were not gaining the purchase she anticipated, especially within her own beloved country? Time's running out, for you and for me: Wake up! Hear me.

That you are absorbed in research of the causes of her evolving and changing modes of thought and behaviour, as it seems to me, I think is fine; it's likely you will unearth some fresh and interesting connections.

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Well Ellen, it can be that one reaches a little too high (wrt: conceptual opposites and categories)... but better, for any rigorous thinker, than under-reaching, no?

Well... Not for a "rigorous" thinker, I think. But possibly better, depending, for a thinker attempting to present a new vision of human life, as Rand was trying to do.

Some of her over-reaches bother me more than others. The ones which bother me most are those which I think can be harmful if accepted as true by admirers.

I realize that you and I have different approaches and interests in regard to Rand. Your concern is with what she offers of benefit to your leading your life. Mine is much more abstract and oriented toward my expectation that Rand's ideas will be a major influence on future thought. My desire is to help with straightening out what I see as the shortcomings, especially in the area of epistemology.

I was going to continue replying to your post #101, but the timing is really awkward for me. We're scheduled to get new windows throughout the house, and I've been busy moving things away from windows. My focus isn't on the abstract at the moment.

So I'll just leave the subject of Rand's over-reaching for now.

Thanks for your replies. I think I understood them, unlike my typical feeling with your posts on the aesthetics threads. :smile:

Ellen

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For me, I have less interest in the style of how she did things, or when - less and less, all the time - for me it's all in the 'what' and 'why'; of what she envisaged in her meta-view of mankind. At that stratospheric level of observation, she identified what she thought as basic wrongs and how they originated, and where they were heading - believing she could set them right with persuasion, through her art and her argument. Saving mankind from itself. That's a bigger job than the President's, the great scientists -- or whomever one can imagine - taking a lifetime's commitment.

Ayn Rand made a noble attempt at the impossible. That in itself can be inspiring enough to employ her ideas as practical applications for the individual to save themselves from mankind.

Exhausted, towards the end, who can fault her if she panicked when her ideas were not gaining the purchase she anticipated, especially within her own beloved country? Time's running out, for you and for me: Wake up! Hear me.

That bittersweet irony has a long tradition. Jesus once remarked wryly,

"A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house."

I regard Ayn Rand as having been a prophet because she could see ahead of her time... "a voice in the wilderness."

Greg

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For me, I have less interest in the style of how she did things, or when - less and less, all the time - for me it's all in the 'what' and 'why'; of what she envisaged in her meta-view of mankind. At that stratospheric level of observation, she identified what she thought as basic wrongs and how they originated, and where they were heading - believing she could set them right with persuasion, through her art and her argument. Saving mankind from itself. That's a bigger job than the President's, the great scientists -- or whomever one can imagine - taking a lifetime's commitment.

Ayn Rand made a noble attempt at the impossible. That in itself can be inspiring enough to employ her ideas as practical applications for the individual to save themselves from mankind.

Exhausted, towards the end, who can fault her if she panicked when her ideas were not gaining the purchase she anticipated, especially within her own beloved country? Time's running out, for you and for me: Wake up! Hear me.

That bittersweet irony has a long tradition. Jesus once remarked wryly,

"A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house."

I regard Ayn Rand as having been a prophet because she could see ahead of her time... "a voice in the wilderness."

Greg

Amen...

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Atlas Shrugged will soon be 60 years old. Rand started writing it 70 years ago. What other novel written in the 1940s and 1950s so well illustrates the world we are living in today?

--Brant

and why

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Atlas Shrugged will soon be 60 years old. Rand started writing it 70 years ago. What other novel written in the 1940s and 1950s so well illustrates the world we are living in today?

--Brant

and why

The why is easy...

vision

Ayn Rand could see.

Greg

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Atlas Shrugged will soon be 60 years old. Rand started writing it 70 years ago. What other novel written in the 1940s and 1950s so well illustrates the world we are living in today?

--Brant

and why

The why is easy...

vision

Ayn Rand could see.

Greg

Everybody knows that. Did you know that words really can hurt you?

http://youtu.be/kCysb4_-4jU

--Brant

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