Who is John Galt? Try Nicola Tesla. It seems to me that Ayn Rand is one of the most important philosophers to learn from, because writing at the time she did, she was able to address some of our most current issues and problems. She talked about capitalism, communism, corruption, creativity and human aspiration. She attempted to describe good and evil, and she did this in a world of industry and internationalism. Her work is brilliant and illuminating. I hazard to say there was also a fundamental flaw in her work. The purpose of examining this flaw is to clarify her lessons, not to contradict them. The truths she states are great. Recognition of what she missed, makes them seem even truer. That was just a complicated way to say that while many people see a great deal of truth in what she wrote, they are uncomfortable with some part of the message that they are reading. Her message is largely that the best basis for a persons morality is enlightened selfishness. In this context, her critique of family and common neighbor goes against the feelings of most people. It is for you to decide if my critique corrects this flaw and makes the truth of her message more useful. This essay will discuss something of her writings, my perception of their flaw and how a correction of this minor, but basic, flaw can make the truths that she expounded, at such great length, more useful. I will also include quotes or paraphrases of some of her more memorable points. I hope that you enjoy the bits of her wit and I hope that you think that my critique adds to what she brought to her readers. She has and still continues to inspire me. She was one who cared about right and wrong. Your manners must be glued on tightly, or you will lose them when you need them the most. Part of her success in illustrating what she did is based on that she wrote incredibly interesting stories with fascinating characters. Her characters are to illustrate modern archetypes and were taken from the real people of her times such as William Randall Hearst, the Rockefellers and Frank Lloyd Wright. I wonder if she had someone in mind when creating her female lead characters, Dagney Taggert and Dominique Francon? The archetypes of her characters are made to make one wonder "is this a description of me"? It is surprising how many people say they are like Toohey or Wynand. Her first book was "The Fountainhead". The name of the book illustrates the flaw I spoke of. It is read, "the ego is the fountainhead of all creativity". It is the story of Howard Roark and appears to be based on the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It is about his incredible creativity and the responses it provoked. It is about how the good and evil in people responded to the truth in his creations. It is about how real evil, fears and attacks real truth. Not surprisingly, it talks about the rejection of his innovation, by the just plain dull herd. It then describes the ascendancy of truth in the face of evil that is really quite insubstantial. She enjoyed great success with The Fountainhead. So she wrote another one to further illustrate her beliefs... And did she write. It usually comes to about 1000 pages and includes a 43 page monologue by the main hero, John Gault. It is great reading though. Her second book, "Atlas Shrugged" was far more ambitious than her first. It had far more characters, sweep and consequence. It basically concluded with the start of another dark age and was not entirely optimistic. So what is this big bad flaw that I am talking about and how can it be easily resolved? Her fundamental premise is that selfishness, doing things out of pure self interest, will produce the best results for everyone. Do not waver on this when taking into account family, friends or community, or else they will be able to corrupt the truth you seek and destroy both you and them. She argues persuasively and at length to prove this and supports her argument well. The problem is that humans have feelings and following them will not necessarily make you betray yourself. If you were to read her title as, faith is the fountainhead of all creativity and replaced the word self with faith, it would make her books more palatable. How can this possibly be, you ask. Faith in a non-mystical sense, is an individuals basic survival instinct. We instinctively know that survival is represented by more than oneself, so Ayn Rand's discussion of survival simply by self, does not sit well with instinct. We know to value more than self. So our greatest truths and accomplishments come when we are working for survival of more than a simple self. We cannot hide and let the world crumble about us as we chant, "we have been true to ourselves". We are part of the world and must work to make it a better place. There are other options than to shrug and let things collapse. Faith is to morality as intelligence is to knowledge. There is a great deal of controversy about what makes a person, nature or nurture. There is endless debate over whether the environment or the genes makes the individual. It is a debate formed by ideologists whose uncompromizing stances are not about science and what forms an adult from a child, instead they are arguements to support a political or social agenda. A human is formed from their ancestors and the world they grow up in. Intelligence without knowledge and challenge whithers. Knowledge cannot be used without intelligence. Intelligence though, includes a drive to learn and use knowledge. In this same way, faith includes not only the ability to use moral systems, but also a drive to survive that seeks systems and methods to insure survival. This survival drive is probably the most powerful instinct in humans and has been a primary focus of evolution through most of humans civil existence. Humans are incredibly difficult to kill. They have never been called fragile. Faith has driven the greatest creativity and the most merciless of wars. Like intelligence, it can be enhanced by training. That is one of the buisnesses of religion, but it was faith that created religions, not the other way around. Like intelligence, faith develops little in the absence of knowledge, but this is actually less true than for intelligence, because faith is of more basic importance and because moralities are developed by the actions of survival. An athiest has faith, else they would not care enough to reject morality of a god. People do not have strong moral beliefs unless they have faith. Faith is like other emotions. It can grow slowly or flower suddenly. It can be perceived in others like love, hate, anger, joy, fear or intellect. It is why someone strives to create art or a business. It is why a person believes in right and wrong. Don't take my word for it. Look at faith as something seperate from religion and you will see it in yourself and others. You will also see its lack. Faith and its relation to both religion and morality is discussed more in Transition on the other part of this web page. * * * * * * * * * * * * * It is interesting that, though her books are rather long, most people who read them, read them a number of times. They are an inspiring affirmation of intellect and ability as well as a cutting critique of incompetence, complacency, greed and stupidity. Another interesting point is what I will call Ayn speak. It is educational to note. She says that when dealing with others that it is efficient to tell them that they can do one thing or another, but to do neither is equal to taking an action. Then she shot him for indecision. In the real world, real people take time to think. Many times, our spoken form of communication has built in delays and devices that allow or help another person make a decision. Speech is such a fast form of communication that it does not allow the careful consideration that the written word allows. While it is easy enough to speak without ambiguity, it is not great for much of human communication.
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