And, really, what can one say about Objectivism? It isn’t so much a philosophy as what someone who has never actually encountered philosophy imagines a philosophy might look like: good hard axiomatic absolutes, a bluff attitude of intellectual superiority, lots of simple atomic premises supposedly immune to doubt, immense and inflexible conclusions, and plenty of assertions about what is “rational” or “objective” or “real.” Oh, and of course an imposing brand name ending with an “-ism.” Rand was so eerily ignorant of all the interesting problems of ontology, epistemology, or logic that she believed she could construct an irrefutable system around a collection of simple maxims like “existence is identity” and “consciousness is identification,” all gathered from the damp fenlands between vacuous tautology and catastrophic category error. She was simply unaware that there were any genuine philosophical problems that could not be summarily solved by flatly proclaiming that this is objectivity, this is rational, this is scientific, in the peremptory tones of an Obersturmführer drilling his commandoes.It garnered 166 comments, which I did not have the stomach to read. Maverick has an interesting analysis of her 'existence' claim in a post here.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Does Existence exist?
Maverick mentions a wonderful piece by David Bentley Hart on Ayn Rand. Peppered with stuff like this: "The essential oafishness of Rand’s view of reality ... what made her novels not just risibly clumsy, but truly shrill and hideous, was the exorbitantly trashy philosophy behind them ... Had she not mistaken herself for a deep thinker, she might have done well enough, producing books that filled out that vital niche between Forever Amber and Valley of the Dolls." And this part is priceless: