September 21, 2007

It Doesn't Stop

McGinn's mob has made a couple of remarks about Objectivism (which they keep referring to as "Randism") today and the compare it to a religion. I responded:

That is a grotesque misrepresentation of Rand's philosophy.

You said, "Rand's philosophy can be likened to religion because modern human beings find themselves in a new world of nature, namely politics and economics. The guiding Randian ethic in this new world is not physical survival as it was for Adam and Eve but rather psychological survival or happiness. "

That's not even what it means for a system of ideas to be a religion -- at least not as the term "religion" may be defined for any meaningful discussion.

On a very basic level, Rand's ethics are predicated on metaphysical and epistemological arguments which may be summed as describing human beings as "rational animals." To promote happiness at the expense of survival would be an obvious contradiction given that one cannot be happily dead. Further, achieving happiness requires a continued exploration of existence and promoting a greater understanding of the facts of reality -- an observation Rand repeatedly made and described in her discussions of the role of scientists in human existence.

McGinn, I actually agree with you here.

There are many popular misconceptions about the nature of capitalism and even the mechanisms of economic development that it properly uses and especially what constitutes rational business/economic decisions in a free or semi-free market environment. Many supposed egoists in business have frighteningly short-range views of their activities.

The NYT published an article recently that interviewed various business people about the influence of Ayn Rand on their careers and they displayed a shocking misunderstanding of the ideas she was promoting. One lady even equated them with Buddhism!

But my agreement is cautious because you mention "the consequences of rampant capitalism on the general good." I don't know what you mean by that (although I could probably guess) and I wouldn't presume to describe your political philosophy to you. I will simply say that while it is tempting to see what you describe, we should resist that temptation given the overt misunderstandings of Objectivism by people in business.

I really grant that man too much benefit of the doubt.

Update 1: Thanks to a reminded from Monica, I added another comment over there.

Also, I'd like to submit a term for the mob's use and approval: Randroid

I've seen it elsewhere among those who wish to denigrate Objectivists. Personally, I think it's a hoot and a half, so I'm just throwing it out there.

I guess Drake hadn't heard of it when he called me a robot earlier.

Fun fact: no one has ever referred to me directly as a "randroid" and I'm kind of jealous of those who have.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at September 21, 2007 11:58 AM | TrackBack

Just can't stay away, can you? hee hee

Posted by: Monica at September 21, 2007 12:09 PM


I knew it would happen eventually. We know the next word that will appear. Randroids.

Posted by: Monica at September 21, 2007 12:11 PM

In light of our little dicussion over there, you might find this story interesting.

Posted by: Monica at September 21, 2007 12:29 PM
Flibbs said:
I really grant that man too much benefit of the doubt.

Ummmmmmmm... ya think!?

I went to McGinn's blog to see what you were on about and I read the initial argument (such as it is) and all the comments.

I went in thinking I'd add my own comments, but when I finished reading I just couldn't be bothered.

Posted by: Matt Chancellor at September 21, 2007 05:10 PM
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