Ayn Rand

     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

To be continued....

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