Objectivism – It’s really about the Object

Ayn Rand. Karl Popper. Two of a dozen or so thinkers that I really admire.

The two fellows above are so cerebral, I sometimes wonder if they are right and their intellect might, although towering, sometimes leaves me a bit cold. Growing up in the Asian tradition, “mysticism” amazes me and the truth is that the intellect cannot really explain many things. Just because the eyes can’t see, the senses can’t sense and the brains can’t register doesn’t mean that something doesn’t exist.

But coming back to Objectivist Phenomenology, my last sentence do contradict a bit in that Objectivist do believe that there is existence that is independent of our sensory capability, independent of our existence. Just because we do not exist does not mean that the tree is not there. But on the other hand, Objectivists do not believe in the existence of God since they have no way to “prove” that he exists. But they have no way to prove that He does not exists! Objectivist just believe that what is there is there… what we can prove there or not cannot be proven anyways.

Like Kant said, our mental faculty is just not made up to really understand the universe. In a way, Objectivists are like the Buddha too. When asked, he just said to the common people, just live the moment, whatever is there, is there. There is no need to know what is beyond. Just practice the teachings and it is enough for enlightenment. There is no need to speculate.

There are also many Objectivist ideas that is quite interesting. For example, Objectivist politics claimed that taxes is wrong because it forces people to pay. Anything that uses force is bad. But if there are no taxes, how is the government going to finance public projects like schools? Ayn Rand has some interesting ideas.

But above all, in this period of economic turmoil, Ayn Rand’s economic idea is really interesting. To sum it in one line, “If the Government does not interfere with economics, there will be no economic crisis. Politics and Economics should be separate, just like Politics and Religion”.

Wow, really?

Ayn Rand is cool. Read her novels, Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Objectivism – It’s really about the Object

  1. Chris

    While I really admire Karl Popper (is he an objectivist?) being from the U.S. my relationship with Ayn Rand is somewhat different. It’s something of a right of passage over here that you read the Fountainhead in the first or second year of college and become a complete self-obsessed jerk for two weeks.

    Of course, she does channel some strains that are pretty prevalent in America already. My wife who is Finnish really enjoyed, and still likes Rand, and is a perfectly nice person.

    It’s in channeling these strains that Ayn Rand indirectly contributed to the current crisis. Alan Greenspan our central banker was a close disciple and friend of hers and his belief that the government should not deflate financial bubble or regulate complex financial instruments such as Credit Default Swaps led him (and many others) to let the banks run out of control.

  2. fallingstones

    Hi Chris. Thanks for commenting.

    Popper is not an objectivist as far as I know but is a thinker that I greatly admire.

    I can imagine one being a real jerk and a calculative, cold person after immersing oneself in Ayn Rand but she is one that is able to inspire thought and inspire self-reliance. I do not think that she is wholly right but her spirit of empowering mankind with the power of reason, self-reliance and accountability is a really good one.

    Ms Rand did influence many notable and powerful figure and is therefore indirectly influencing the American political thoughts and Alan Greenspan, as you mentioned, has written to some length on his relationship with Ms Rand in his book, the Age of Turbulence.

    But in this, Greenspan is not really a true disciple because he messes up with some economic policy while chose not to interfere with others while Ms Rand’s thought is that government shall not interfere with economics at all. The role of government is merely and solely to ensure a free society where everyone is free to make their own choices, where everyone is allowed to be “selfish”.

  3. Chris

    Well yes, I think Ayn Rand’s ideas inspire a lot of people. This article at the New York Times talks about a lot of businesspeople who were inspired by her:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/15/business/15atlas.html

    But it’s a romantic idea, it can be powerful and positive in helping people realize their potential and carve out a place for themselves, but it can also be dangerous is people use it to justify excesses and their personal development and exploration end with it. I think that’s the double-edged sword of romantic ideas, they can lead people to new heights or convince themselves that the depths they dwell in are the highest place that can be attained.

    But I think Jefferson said it all better than Rand:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”

    Regarding Greenspan, no he didn’t implement her ideas completely (thank God!) but I think her ideas contributed to his blindness towards the excesses of Wall Street:

    “I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interest of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms.”

    But to his credit he admitted his mistake. At least he channeled some Popper when he saw his hypothesis as “falsifiable.”

  4. fallingstones

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks again for your comments and the wonderful quotation from Jefferson.

    Do you have a blog or a website that I can also read your writings?

  5. Chris Moore

    Yes, I have just started posting again at http://moorechris.blogspot.com/. Please read!

  6. Tom

    Hi fallingstones,

    I came across your website from another Go player website and really enjoy it. Imagine my surprise when I found out your another Objectivist! I’m definitely putting your blog in my feed reader now. I wonder if more Go player are Objectivists or are we both outliers? =)

    Tom

    • fallingstones

      hi tom, thanks for visiting and for your comments ;-) as far as i know, i am an outlier amongst my friends. tagged ur blog for reading too ;-))

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