typical conversation i have about Ayn Rand

Southern Capitalist

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me: Have you heard of and like Ayn Rand?

person: yea and no I don't like her, shes a selfish crazy bitch.

me: have you read any of her books?

person: No

me: oh soooo you don't like her because of what you heard?

person: yea I guess, heard she was crazy and selfish and supported Capitalism.

me: oh, ok, so do you know what capitalism is?

person: well I know rich people like it, I heard it makes rich people more rich and poor people more poor.

me: so do you enjoy private property and individual rights?

person: yes

me: ahhhh ok, so have you ever heard of Objectivism

person: whats that?

me: nevermind,

Yes humorous but very disappointing. I could post more but I am sure most of you have had similar conversations.

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Welcome to OL.

Sometimes (not often) we get people here on OL who like Rand and still misunderstand her almost as badly. :)

That's one of the reasons I set the tone on OL to be working through ideas rather than adherence to them.

Some people need time to digest, learn, sort, and arrive at what ideas they truly want to adhere to.

And, rather than use the master to disciple preaching mode, we do it in a Socratic dialectic manner (learning by working out ideas in discussion).

It's a messy process, but it certainly stimulates independent thinking of the "true to yourself" kind. When I observe people doing that, even when I disagree with them, and further even when they are flat-out wrong, it brings me joy. When people are sincere and have good character, I trust them to lead their own minds to a great place and arrive at their own conclusions within their own time. I have yet to be disappointed in people like that.

So this is a place that is a little different than what people expect if they base their expectations on other Objectivist-leaning sites.

I hope you find value here. You sure seem like you have a good head.

Make yourself at home. There are plenty of great people around here to interact with.


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My typical conversation about Ayn Rand:

Me: Have you heard of Ayn Rand?

Person: Who is that?


Having no knowledge about a subject is better than having incorrect "knowledge" about it.

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Michael, thank you for welcoming me. This tone you speak of is exactly the reason I registered to participate on OL. I scanned around all Objectivist and Rand forums and found I felt more comfortable coming to OL. I did not get that "tone" or feeling on the other major Objectivist forums. Of course I really don't want to speak ill of them but again, it seems this was the appropriate forum for me. I understand the misunderstanding with Rand. I myself read her books many years ago but started studying the philosophy around 4 years ago, and only until recently claiming Objectivism as my personal philosophy. I wanted a complete understanding before I considered myself an Objectivist so I would not misrepresent the philosophy. Even now I still may have questions, so again its nice to have a place I can ask questions that may pop up, cause even though I consider myself as a good bit of knowledge, philosophy is a in depth subject. Objectivism gets deep in Metaphysics and Epistemology. Which I enjoy learning.

Kyle, yes I agree, at least with no knowledge someone can start the understanding of Rand or Objectivism with good communication and maybe they will get a better understanding than from say a "liberal" minded individual.

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Kyle, SC:

Which reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Nathaniel (which I have, somewhat redundantly, posted several times on OL, and which I do so again):

But I should add here, that many criticisms and myths about Ayn Rand http://www.atlassociety.org/ayn_rand

and on Objectivism http://www.atlassociety.org/Objectivism_explained are discussed in a series of Q&A and position papers, which can be easily found on The Atlas Society's website.

As discussed elsewhere on OL, the liberal critics of Ayn Rand have predictably used the resurgence of interest in her books,and the occasion of the publication of two new biographical studies, to unload their vitriolic personal animosity to all things Rand.

In 1962, Nathaniel and Barbara Branden's book, Who is Ayn Rand? was published. In its first essay, "The Moral Revolution in Atlas Shrugged" (now available as a separate pamphlet from The Atlas Society), Nathaniel Branden made the following comments regarding attacks that appeared in the press about Atlas Shrugged (and it is astounding that these comments could have been written today, 48 years later, about the recent "pseudo" reviews of these biographies, and not require any substantial change):

It is hard to say which is the more eloquent proof of its signal relevance to the crucial issues of our age: the widespread admiration and enthusiasm it has inspired – or the hysteria of the attacks unleashed against it. The nature of those attacks is an instructive index of the current intellectual condition of our culture.

Rand’s antagonists have unfailingly elected to pay her what is, perhaps, the greatest tribute one can offer to a thinker whom one opposes: they have all felt obliged to misrepresent her ideas in order to attack them.

No one has dared publicly to name the essential ideas of Atlas Shrugged and to attempt to refute them. No one has been willing to declare: “Ayn Rand holds that man must choose his own values and actions exclusively by reason, that man has the right to exist for his own sake, that no one has the right to seek values from others by physical force – and I consider such ideas wrong, evil, and socially dangerous.”

Rand’s opponents have found it preferable to debate with strawmen, to equate her philosophy with that of Spencer or Nietzsche or Spinoza or Hobbes and thus expose themselves to the charge of philosophic illiteracy – rather than identify and publicly argue against that for which Rand actually stands.

Were they discussing the ideas of an author whose work was not known to the general public, their motive would appear obvious. But it is a rather grotesque spectacle to witness men seemingly going through the motions of concealing from the public the ideas of an author whose readers number in the millions.

When one considers the careful precision with which Rand defines her terms and presents her ideas, and the painstaking manner in which each concept is concretized and illustrated – one will search in vain for a non-psychiatric explanation of the way in which her philosophy has been reported by antagonists. Allegedly describing her concept of rational self-interest, they report that Ayn Rand extols disregard for the rights of others, brutality, rapacity, doing whatever one feels like doing and general animal self-indulgence. This, evidently, is the only meaning they are able to give to the concept of self-interest. One can only conclude that this is how they conceive their own self-interest, which they altruistically and self-sacrificially renounce. Such a viewpoint tells one a great deal about the man who holds it – but nothing about the philosophy of Rand

(excerpts from pp 38-39, in the TAS pamphlet used here; original version, pp 58-59, Who Is Ayn Rand? 1962: Random House).

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