Thinking as a Hobby

Get Email Updates
Email Me

Admin Password

Remember Me

3478319 Curiosities served
Share on Facebook

SVS: Objectivism
Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Read/Post Comments (1)


As with other existing secular value systems, Objectivism has some merits: assumption of an objective reality, valuation of reason, valuation of freedom, etc. However, there are some serious problems with Objectivism, namely its radical egoism, aversion to compromise, and ultimate focus on happiness as the yardstick by which goodness is measured. Due to the objectification of Ayn Rand herself, and the extreme natures of some of its views, it's also become something of a cult.

Ayn Rand espoused an extreme form of rational self-interest, on the assumption that if everyone were acting to maximize their own self-interest the world would be a better place. I read The Fountainhead on my own as an undergraduate. The back story to the novel is that Rand shopped it around to dozens of publishers, refusing to change a word, until it finally got published. Suffice it to say, she could have used a good editor. The meta-story is meant to establish the principles of the author herself, along with her protagonist. Individualism is the fountainhead of all that is good in the world, so Rand tries to establish. The actual story concerns an architect, Howard Rourke, who is such a wonderful genius that few want to hire him. There's also the fact that he won't compromise one bit on his designs, under the working assumption that they're perfect. He's goes so far as the blow up a bunch of buildings he designed because the builders had the presumption to make little changes to the door jambs.

Individualism would work fabulously if everyone were a genius, but alas, this just isn't the case. Sometimes too many cooks spoil the broth, but then again, many times two heads (or three or a hundred) really are better than one. There are simply many endeavors that cannot be undertaken or accomplished without cooperation and comprimise. Science often progresses through the insights of individuals, but would be impotent without collaboration, cooperation, sharing, and vigilant peer review. We would never have gotten to the moon (or built the atom bomb, for that matter) if everyone upheld Rourke's ethics.

And a radically laissez faire approach to social and economic policy is simply going to leave those who are either unwilling or unable to care for themselves to fall through the cracks. Sometimes people need to be cared for by society.

There is a natural tension between the values of truth, freedom, and structure. Individual freedom should be maximized, but not at the expense of the collective search for truth, or at the needless destitution and death of others. This triangulation of values needs to be balanced, and the particulars are to be hashed out between reasonable people. However, it is clear that a society composed of egoists just isn't going to work, and that objectivism should be mined for what it does have to offer, even though a significant chunk of it is flawed and should ultimately be discarded.

Read/Post Comments (1)

Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Back to Top

Powered by JournalScape © 2001-2010 All rights reserved.
All content rights reserved by the author.