Why did Dagny and Hank assume the motor had been invented by a single man?


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I only have to cover 200 or so years. And you have to get down on one knee and thank us for sparing your people, rebuilding your countries economy and of course protecting your ungrateful sneering people who wish to forget what the Russians did to the other half of the your country.

Who starts sneering here? Did you read your own previous post? And I've no idea what the Russians did to "the other half" of my country.

That's ok, we can even survive the ungrateful.

Whine, whine, whine, if you get a taste of your own medicine.

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I only have to cover 200 or so years. And you have to get down on one knee and thank us for sparing your people, rebuilding your countries economy and of course protecting your ungrateful sneering people who wish to forget what the Russians did to the other half of the your country.

Who starts sneering here? Did you read your own previous post? And I've no idea what the Russians did to "the other half" of my country.

That's ok, we can even survive the ungrateful.

Whine, whine, whine, if you get a taste of your own medicine.

Dragonfly:

If I got your country wrong, I apologize. However, that will not dissuade me from taking my consistent disagreements with x-ray's approach to reality. She and I clearly disagree.

I made light of her carping about the hero worship which was implicit in Ayn's writings. I made a snotty, ad hominem, and sarcastic remark after the 3 millioneth time in thread after thread

x ray attempts to merge intellectual analysis with emotional psychological pseudo analysis about Ayn's personality weaknesses.

"The characters in AS are about as "realistic" as the miraculous Rearden metal, the miraculous Galt motor, or the miraculous brave new world in Galt's gulch." <<< really, well, yeah since it is a novel.

So sorry I got your country wrong, I just hope you do not live in mine, we have enough enemies within right now.

Adam

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I only have to cover 200 or so years. And you have to get down on one knee and thank us for sparing your people, rebuilding your countries economy and of course protecting your ungrateful sneering people who wish to forget what the Russians did to the other half of the your country.

Who starts sneering here? Did you read your own previous post? And I've no idea what the Russians did to "the other half" of my country.

That's ok, we can even survive the ungrateful.

Whine, whine, whine, if you get a taste of your own medicine.

Great enough to kick Hitler's ass. There are other measures of greatness and the totality needs to be added up. Unfortunately, the country is going into the crapper regardless. I'm sure we've got another war in us, though. It won't be nice. Like all our other wars it will be mostly stupid out of stupidity. The people in charge are exceedingly stupid, ignorant, power-lusting and cowardly. That's just the media. The politicians ...

--Brant

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Dragonfly is correct that the manuscript was typewritten (AS, p. 269).

On p. 304 Dagny speaks with a Mrs. Hastings, widow of William Hastings, who had been chief engineer at Twentieth Century Motor Company. Mrs. Hastings says: "A motor? Yes. Yes, he [William Hastings] spoke of it several times. He said it was an invention of incalculable importance. But it was not he who had designed it. It was the invention of a young assistant of his."

On p. 305 Mrs. Hastings relates picking up her husband after he had dinner with two other men. She didn't know their names, but one was the young assistant and she later found the other as a cook in a diner in Wyoming. The names aren't given, but they were pretty clearly John Galt and Hugh Akston.

P.S. There is no mention of drawings in the manuscript.

All of which means, if there are indeed no citations elsewhere (subsequently) in Atlas referring to drawings, etc.) that there was not PHYSICAL evidence (handwriting evidence) the invention being by an individual, not a team.

It doesn't deal the #2 discussed above. Which explains not "How Dagny or Hank assumed the motor had been invented by a single man?" but instead explains how the invention being by a single man is the most natural thing in fiction written by Ayn Rand.

And, what would one prefer the text of Atlas Shrugged indicate at this point? Perhaps have Dagny referring to "the person or persons who invented this motor?" That's as bad as he/she or "he, she or they" in some other contexts. Why would Dagny and Hank not assume as working hypothesis invention by a single man (a simpler hypothesis, since it at least doesn't demand explaining how/why an invention understood by MULTIPLE PARTIES never was introduced in the marketplace), and revise that hypothesis if further data appeared later to suggest multiple inventors?

Regards,

Bill P

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And, what would one prefer the text of Atlas Shrugged indicate at this point? Perhaps have Dagny referring to "the person or persons who invented this motor?" That's as bad as he/she or "he, she or they" in some other contexts. Why would Dagny and Hank not assume as working hypothesis invention by a single man (a simpler hypothesis, since it at least doesn't demand explaining how/why an invention understood by MULTIPLE PARTIES never was introduced in the marketplace), and revise that hypothesis if further data appeared later to suggest multiple inventors?

Regards,

Bill P

What the text could have indicated is that the idea of multiple inventors occurred to either Dagny or Hank, and was rejected. Two sentences, or even just one sentence, giving briefly the reasons you give, would have sufficed. Or even a plain statement like, "It was brilliant--the sort of brilliance that must come from one individual mind, that could not come from even the most sympathetic and experienced collaboration." Or, alternatively, "It was a brilliant design, and it was obvious that only one man could have thought of it, or else she would have already have heard of the co-inventors jockeying for the credit of inventing it."

Of course, then someone would come up with a reason for arguing about that :)

Jeff S.

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I am sorry this but this seems to be the argument of how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.

The question how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? has been used many times as a trite dismissal of medieval angelology in particular, of scholasticism in general, and of particular figures such as Duns Scotus and Thomas Aquinas.[1] Another variety of the question is How Many Angels Can Sit On The Head Of A Pin? In modern usage, this question serves as a metaphor for wasting time debating topics of no practical value.

Maybe I am missing something here.

Why is this important to discuss?

Adam

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I am sorry this but this seems to be the argument of how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.

The question how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? has been used many times as a trite dismissal of medieval angelology in particular, of scholasticism in general, and of particular figures such as Duns Scotus and Thomas Aquinas.[1] Another variety of the question is How Many Angels Can Sit On The Head Of A Pin? In modern usage, this question serves as a metaphor for wasting time debating topics of no practical value.

Maybe I am missing something here.

Why is this important to discuss?

Adam

Adam -

From my point of view, the only reason I have bothered to respond is to defend Rand against the notion apparently being advocated that there is some sort of "plot hole" in Atlas Shrugged at this point. I think what she wrote in AS is quite reasonable in this area, and find no problem in it. And it is perfectly with the overall world view Rand has made so clear.

Regards,

Bill P

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I am sorry this but this seems to be the argument of how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.

The question how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? has been used many times as a trite dismissal of medieval angelology in particular, of scholasticism in general, and of particular figures such as Duns Scotus and Thomas Aquinas.[1] Another variety of the question is How Many Angels Can Sit On The Head Of A Pin? In modern usage, this question serves as a metaphor for wasting time debating topics of no practical value.

Maybe I am missing something here.

Why is this important to discuss?

Adam

The underlying issue here is how good Rand was at writing novels, and how her philosophical premises inform almost every detail of her work. Here, for instance, she does not even allude to the possibility of a team co-operating on an invention, but presents us with the image of the inventor as heroic individual creating and thinking for himself.

In the real world, a person in Dagny or Hank's position would at least consider the possibility of more than one inventor at work, if only to reject it. Rand is so keen to present her heroic inventor image that she doesn't even allow them to do that. Despite her use of the term "Romantic realist" there is not very much realism involved here, even if you ignore the fact that the invention itself is, according to the scientific knowledge of both Rand's era and our own, not merely implausible (like the Rearden metal) but inherently impossible.

So there is a good deal involved here.

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I am sorry this but this seems to be the argument of how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.

The question how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? has been used many times as a trite dismissal of medieval angelology in particular, of scholasticism in general, and of particular figures such as Duns Scotus and Thomas Aquinas.[1] Another variety of the question is How Many Angels Can Sit On The Head Of A Pin? In modern usage, this question serves as a metaphor for wasting time debating topics of no practical value.

Maybe I am missing something here.

Why is this important to discuss?

Adam

The underlying issue here is how good Rand was at writing novels, and how her philosophical premises inform almost every detail of her work. Here, for instance, she does not even allude to the possibility of a team co-operating on an invention, but presents us with the image of the inventor as heroic individual creating and thinking for himself.

In the real world, a person in Dagny or Hank's position would at least consider the possibility of more than one inventor at work, if only to reject it. Rand is so keen to present her heroic inventor image that she doesn't even allow them to do that. Despite her use of the term "Romantic realist" there is not very much realism involved here, even if you ignore the fact that the invention itself is, according to the scientific knowledge of both Rand's era and our own, not merely implausible (like the Rearden metal) but inherently impossible.

So there is a good deal involved here.

Jeff:

There are some critics who will never build a bridge.

Your criticism of Ayn's novel Atlas is that the FICTIONAL ARCHETYPAL METAPHORIC FIGURES IN HER MAGNUM OPUS are not realistic enough to "allude" to a team of folks coming up with the motor idea...you are kidding right?

Let us see, in the "real world", there are no warp drives, little cartoon girls who eat mushrooms that make them into giants and black presidents do not get elected...ummm, well you get my point.

"...how good Rand was at writing novels,..." You are actually asking this seriously?

Adam

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My reason for asking is not to appraise Rand as a novelist. I ask the question because I'm trying to understand what I read. I realized early in the book that the story is not very realistic, and that the author's intention is to tell a story of great individuals, so it makes sense that she uses the individual inventor as opposed to a team. But the fact that the protagonists assume that the motor was invented by a single man struck me as implying that such a revolutionary invention would only be likely to come from the mind of a single genius. Or maybe I'm reading too much into a triviality.

Also, it's not that I don't like fiction, it's just that I hadn't had any exposure to it prior to reading Atlas. One has to start somewhere.

I'm really loving the novel, for what it's worth (only on page 423).

Edited by brg253
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My reason for asking is not to appraise Rand as a novelist. I ask the question because I'm trying to understand what I read. I realized early in the book that the story is not very realistic, and that the author's intention is to tell a story of great individuals, so it makes sense that she uses the individual inventor as opposed to a team. But the fact that the protagonists assume that the motor was invented by a single man struck me as implying that such a revolutionary invention would only be likely to come from the mind of a single genius. Or maybe I'm reading too much into a triviality.

Also, it's not that I don't like fiction, it's just that I hadn't had any exposure to it prior to reading Atlas. One has to start somewhere.

I'm really loving the novel, for what it's worth (only on page 423).

Recognize that fiction is dramatizing ideas, not being documentarian...

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> Also, it's not that I don't like fiction, it's just that I hadn't had any exposure to it prior to reading Atlas

Literature classes in school? Children's books growing up? Plays and performances - like Shakespeare?

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Let us see, in the "real world", there are no warp drives, little cartoon girls who eat mushrooms that make them into giants...

Not all literature has to be realistic, but Rand claims that her book is:

I trust that no one will tell me that men such as I write about don't exist.
For the same reason that in reality Thomas Edison invented a thousand things...

That's a perfect example: it wasn't Edison who invented a thousand things, it was his team that did, while Edison got the credit.

This is not some unimportant detail, as it is representative for the error at the basis of the whole book: the idea that by removing a few dozen "leaders" or "innovators" the economy will completely collapse. That may be nice fiction, but it is fiction nonetheless.

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My reason for asking is not to appraise Rand as a novelist. I ask the question because I'm trying to understand what I read. I realized early in the book that the story is not very realistic, and that the author's intention is to tell a story of great individuals, so it makes sense that she uses the individual inventor as opposed to a team. But the fact that the protagonists assume that the motor was invented by a single man struck me as implying that such a revolutionary invention would only be likely to come from the mind of a single genius. Or maybe I'm reading too much into a triviality.

Also, it's not that I don't like fiction, it's just that I hadn't had any exposure to it prior to reading Atlas. One has to start somewhere.

I'm really loving the novel, for what it's worth (only on page 423).

You'll have to read posts a little more carefully. My post was in reply to Jeffrey's.

--Brant

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Hmmm Dragonfly...context context:

I believe that Ayn then said, "...that this book was published [Atlas] proves that men like this exist." I believe that she was talking about Cerf for example.

"I trust that no one will tell me that men such as I write about don't exist."

Adam

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Let us see, in the "real world", there are no warp drives, little cartoon girls who eat mushrooms that make them into giants...

Not all literature has to be realistic, but Rand claims that her book is:

I trust that no one will tell me that men such as I write about don't exist.
For the same reason that in reality Thomas Edison invented a thousand things...

That's a perfect example: it wasn't Edison who invented a thousand things, it was his team that did, while Edison got the credit.

This is not some unimportant detail, as it is representative for the error at the basis of the whole book: the idea that by removing a few dozen "leaders" or "innovators" the economy will completely collapse. That may be nice fiction, but it is fiction nonetheless.

It's not an error. You are criticizing AS as if it were a non-fiction treatise. Productive people do not function very well if at all in a society of looters and laws violating their rights and taking their property. This country, at its richest, had only a fraction of the wealth and progress it could have had and we are much poorer for it today.

The real error of AS is AR puting all good and all bad into different characters instead of acknowledging that the potential if not the actuality is in everybody for each because of free will. This also royally screwed up Objectivism qua movement making it mostly a cult, and her personal life also.

--Brant

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There are a lot of uninformed statements being made on this thread - Edison's team was responsible for his inventions, taking static electricity out of the air is equivalent to perpetual motion, a metal harder than steel which has copper in it is impossible, Atlas to be 'realistic' needed to consider the possibility that a group might have invented the motor...

...and that's only four of them very recently.

There is also a great deal of ignorance regarding the meaning of the word 'realistic' in the context of a work of fiction.

The ignorance here ranges across fields - biographical history about a great inventor, physics - the nature of tapping into environmental 'alternative' energy, chemistry, and the nature of literary license. On another thread, at this moment, a lot of foolish statements are being made about the definition of heroism, by people who seem to be too lazy to look in a dictionary.

Especially when there are so many of them, and the intellectual irresponsibility simply escalates, I simply don't have time to slap down each of the above false statements. And the writers, with typical irresponsibility, will simply comb the internet for anyone who supports them who sounds like an authority, while ignoring any 'hit's on those who are authorities who disagree.

But I caution readers not to accept any postings or factual claims made on lists like this.

The problem with this discussion list is it is going steadily downhill in terms of people accepting responsibility not to post wild and foolish claims simply because they would (if true) support whatever they are arguing for.

Edited by Philip Coates
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Phil, make a list of posters you generally agree with and put it on your signature line with the statement that anyone else posting on OL doesn't have your sanction until you spot review their work sufficiently to make sure they know what they are talking about. Posters not on your list can apply to be included by forwarding some of their work to you. You might start a thread where they could do this. Call it the "Hey, Phil!" thread. And of course, someone on your list can apply to be taken off by showing you some of their stupid/ignorant/bad posts--or by begging.

--Brant

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Hmmm Dragonfly...context context:

I believe that Ayn then said, "...that this book was published [Atlas] proves that men like this exist." I believe that she was talking about Cerf for example.

"I trust that no one will tell me that men such as I write about don't exist."

Nathaniel Branden tells somewhere (I'm too lazy to look it up now for an exact quote) that she repeatedly would make the same claim in public and then to his great embarrassment point out herself and the Brandens as examples of such people. But no matter whom she took as examples, the claim was clearly that the heroes in AS are not idealizations but people who could and did exist in reality. She also described Frank O'Connor as "John Galt on strike".

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Hmmm Dragonfly...context context:

I believe that Ayn then said, "...that this book was published [Atlas] proves that men like this exist." I believe that she was talking about Cerf for example.

"I trust that no one will tell me that men such as I write about don't exist."

Nathaniel Branden tells somewhere (I'm too lazy to look it up now for an exact quote) that she repeatedly would make the same claim in public and then to his great embarrassment point out herself and the Brandens as examples of such people. But no matter whom she took as examples, the claim was clearly that the heroes in AS are not idealizations but people who could and did exist in reality. She also described Frank O'Connor as "John Galt on strike".

Dragonfly:

Come on you can do better than that. I will be kind though. I do not need you to look it up. It would not surprise me, but it is also hearsay, but let's stipulate that Ayn believed that John Galt existed outside of her book. And let's further stipulate that she believed that Frank was John on strike.

I for one, really do not care whether she did or did not believe it any of the above.

I have an independent mind that can make its own judgments. I saw her personal weaknesses as I see mine. It is irrelevant to me, since I fell in love with her ideas, not her identity as an individual with human flaws, needs and passions.

Adam

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Jeff:

There are some critics who will never build a bridge.

Your criticism of Ayn's novel Atlas is that the FICTIONAL ARCHETYPAL METAPHORIC FIGURES IN HER MAGNUM OPUS are not realistic enough to "allude" to a team of folks coming up with the motor idea...you are kidding right?

Let us see, in the "real world", there are no warp drives, little cartoon girls who eat mushrooms that make them into giants and black presidents do not get elected...ummm, well you get my point.

"...how good Rand was at writing novels,..." You are actually asking this seriously?

Adam

Adam:

Rand wrote what she intended to be a realistic novel, showing what happens to a society in the real world when the looters destroy it and the producers abandon it, and that people can act heroically in those and any other circumstances. Star Trek and Alice in Wonderland have never been presented as anything other than fantasies. So they have nothing to do with Atlas Shrugged. So her characters need to act as real people do, and invent things that are scientifically plausible.

But on examination, it turns out that there is a lot of unrealism in AS, which hurts the credibility not only of Galt's motor and Rearden's metal, but of the ideas that are the real heart of the novel, about looters and producers.

Brant--in answer to your question, it's not my like or dislike of fiction that motivates me here. It's the fact that so many people think of her as a great novelist, and that Fountainhead and AS are great works of literature. The simple fact is, they are not, and the sooner people accept that, the better. Rand needs to approached as a philosopher who presented some of her ideas in second-rate novels, not as a novelist who was also a philosopher.

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It's not an error. You are criticizing AS as if it were a non-fiction treatise.

AS is in fact a non-fiction treatise in the disguise of a novel.

Parts of it are. Some of the Speeches are really philosophical and political discourse which could have been presented in a purely non-fiction form.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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