From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Icon philosophy.svg

This Philosophy related article has been awarded SILVER status for quality. We like it, and you should too! See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.

Editorial notes
  • Likely vandalism target
This page is automatically archived by Archiver
Archives for this talk page: <1>

This subject deserves its own share of ridicule, so a redirect it no longer is. I admit to not being learned enough about it to delve too deeply into it—or do I already know everything about it, and it's just really shallow? Hence the highly uninformative form it has now. I hope others will take it where I can not, and make it something worthy of RationalWiki. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 00:09, 11 September 2008 (EDT)

As a former pretty much nailed it. The only thing you might have added was Rand's cursing the genitals of her lover. Researcher 22:59, 28 September 2008 (EDT)
Curse that accursed organ that does not objectively meet my needs! (there, did I do it?) ħumanUser talk:Human 04:03, 6 October 2008 (EDT)


Is it really? It's pretty good, but a lot of the other recent silvers are much more cite-heavy and heavy-hitting in other ways. Herr FuzzyKatzenPotato (talk/stalk) 23:21, 25 February 2016 (UTC)

The metaphysics section[edit]

Objectivism holds that reality is separate from human consciousness; no matter what a person might want to believe, a thing in reality will always be what it is with no room for subjectivity regarding its nature. The idea is supposedly based on the law of identity[wp], A is A, which Rand ripped off of Aristotle — the only one of her many rip-offs that she acknowledged.
Unfortunately, its epistemological assertions (yes, this belongs in metaphysics) that anything can be known to arbitrary precision, contradicts modern physics (see Heisenberg's uncertainty principle), which some Objectivists have decried as being based on "Kantian assumptions."

I'm not to sure if I'm reading this correctly or if the transition is a bit off or I'm just a dumbass but from these two paragraphs it seems like it's stated that the concept of objective reality (reality existing separate of consciousness) is contradicted by physics. If that's the case is there a way to explain this better in the article? Also, doesn't philosophical realism state that reality exists separate of the consciousness yet that is quite an accepted philosophy. So, would that in turn make it unscientific to believe that reality exists outside of my consciousness/phaneron?I'm not really familiar with philosophy that much so I don't really understand a lot of the terminology (like epistemological assertions). I don't know, if someone can explain this would you please reply? Thank you in advance and, once again, apologies for being a dum-dum. :)--WMS (talk) 08:42, 30 August 2016 (UTC)

Hello, WMS! First of all you're not stupid. Don't say that about yourself — it's not true! You're a very nice and interested person, and you're always welcome to ask. Th hug.gif Without asking, how is one supposed to learn? :3
That being said; regarding the metaphysics... The problem is this. First of all, I think you vaguely know my position — I'm pro-science, I'm a metaphysical naturalist, I'm a skeptic, all of that... I'm not a woomeister who doubts the existence of atoms or anything. And I totally roll with the idea of an external world. Meaning, I'm not here to be critical towards Aynd because I happen to believe there's no external world or anything. So really, it kind of sounds like Objectivism would agree with my views on metaphysics, right? You know, the existence of an external world, that sort of thing?
Well, no. This is because Objectivism does not explain how it reaches these conclusions. It just posits them because it wants to. I can tell you right now that the law of identity ("A=A") has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not there "actually is" an external world. "Kant's spectacles" are part of the classic introduction to the question of the existence an external reality (typically, starting from Plato's parable of the caveWikipedia and moving on via Descartes' cogito ergo sum leading all the way up to things like the "Brain in a vat" thought experimentWikipedia — all of which, in the end, belong to epistemology and the philosophy of mind). I mean, the question of the nature of reality is a very big one, possibly the biggest.
And the problem is that Rand approaches this question with the logical finesse of William Lane Craig mixed with Stalin. Her "method" of conducting philosophy is literally as bad as praxeology, only — directed at reality, epistemology and theory of mind as well as at economics (which it can't even handle on its own, but I digest). Basically, she rushes past that whole show-your-work part and just smacks down her favorite conclusions by force. Rand presents nothing new or novel (guess why Objectivism isn't exactly taught in philosophy class), nor does she argue for or against her own position in any interesting way whatsoever. She just woomeisters on and then concludes that free will is absolute, the universe is indeterministic, humans are perfectly rational creatures, and that obviously things are as they seem — there's clearly an external world right there in front of us in which to go Galt already. Bang, case closed.
I mean, she doesn't even consider basic things like the nature of dreams, the nature of hallucinations, how optical illusions work, what happens when we stimulate our organs with drugs or electrical signals, what happens in isolation vats, et cetera... Perhaps tellingly, she doesn't even consider the possibility that she herself is insane. She performs no experiments; no nothing. She just magically pulls a political conclusion out of her ass; that all the big issues are now resolved, and on the side of her messianic cult-of-personality version of anarcho-capitalism, no less. That's the problem.
Plus, as is also important (and which you have already caught on to) is the fact that the rebuttal currently in the article — which brings up the uncertainty principle from physics and such things — is a pretty confused rebuttal. Aynd is wrong, but it's not for the reasons currently given in the article at all. It's for the reasons given by me here, only times a million. Reverend Black Percy (talk) 09:19, 30 August 2016 (UTC)

You need to do a lot better on controversies, RationalWiki[edit]

I love the name RationalWiki and the aspiration, so I decided to look at a subject about which I know a good deal, Ayn Rand's Objectivism. Unfortunately, despite the noble efforts of Frostbyte to moderate the hostile tone by introducing some actual cited opinions of Ayn Rand, other editors, who seemed to have 'captured' this article, are not likely to give a fair hearing to others on subjects for which they have already determined the only 'rational' answers. Wouldn't it be even more rational to divide this and other articles on deeply controversial subjects (I haven't looked at "God" or "socialism" yet) into pro and con and alternatively sections? That way those who reason well about the subject based on their starting premises can do so gracefully. You realize that requiring all editors to assent to the same premises before starting is a non-starter, right? As some time passes and each side works at better-grounding its arguments in fundamental axioms and observations, RationalWiki could then begin a third section in each controversy article devoted to the comparative analysis of starting premises -- the only kind of forum where it isn't pointless to disagree. I mean, this isn't Wikipedia where the rule is consensus of 'reliable sources', right? I assume you could agree to contrast 'biased' sources if done rationally. To give a simple example, it's pointless to disagree on the moral status of sodomy before each side in a debate has established the source of its premises, e.g. the Bible, current expert opinion, subjective preference, etc. Speaking of current expert opinion, Ayn Rand is treated rationally by the following two online philosophy encyclopedias so contributors to this article may wish to look at them, despite the fact that the appeal to authority can only be a starting point and never settle a question -- questions are only settled in an individual human mind:

I'll check back in a while and I may even register to edit if I see any interest in my proposal for dealing with controversial subjects. (My IP will not be unique.) –R.B. (talk) 23:51, 5 August 2017 (UTC)

Directly from the summary of your own given source:

For all her popularity, however, only a few professional philosophers have taken her work seriously. As a result, most of the serious philosophical work on Rand has appeared in non-academic, non-peer-reviewed journals, or in books, and the bibliography reflects this fact.

Indeed — summary aside — as the very same Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article you link us to yourself puts it already in its Introduction:

Whereas Rand’s ideas and mode of presentation make Rand popular with many non-academics, they lead to the opposite outcome with academics.

She developed some of her views in response to questions from her readers, but never took the time to defend them against possible objections or to reconcile them with the views expressed in her novels. Her philosophical essays lack the self-critical, detailed style of analytic philosophy, or any serious attempt to consider possible objections to her views. Her polemical style, often contemptuous tone, and the dogmatism and cult-like behavior of many of her fans also suggest that her work is not worth taking seriously.

Further, understanding her views requires reading her fiction, but her fiction is not to everyone’s taste. It does not help that she often dismisses other philosophers’ views on the basis of cursory readings and conversations with a few philosophers and with her young philosophy student acolytes. Some contemporary philosophers return the compliment by dismissing her work contemptuously on the basis of hearsay. Some who do read her work point out that her arguments too often do not support her conclusions.

This estimate is shared even by many who find her conclusions and her criticisms of contemporary culture, morality, and politics original and insightful. It is not surprising, then, that she is either mentioned in passing, or not mentioned at all, in the entries that discuss current philosophical thought about virtue ethics, egoism, rights, libertarianism, or markets.

(Regular text spacing was added by me for improved readability — i.e., a review as scathing as the one above isn't even quotemined).
The plain fact is that nothing like this would even get brought up if this state of affairs wasn't obliteratingly central to any serious appraisal of her work. Facepalm Reverend Black Percy (talk) 16:45, 9 August 2017 (UTC)


My mistake Reverend Black Percy. I am well aware that Rand's reception in academia is negative, my point was that this negative reception does not prevent a balanced, rational treatment of her views by the SEP or the IEP. I gather from your comments that what is important to you — and perhaps the other editors of this article — is not a balanced, rational treatment of Objectivism but one that conforms to the academic consensus. Sorry to have wasted my time and yours. –R.B.


If an objectivist is trapped in a burning building, do they ask the firemen not to rescue them? --Scherben (talk) 00:48, 20 September 2017 (UTC)

  • There are no firemen to begin with because the prime movers have long since eliminated the parasites leaching off the fruits of their well-earned labour. User:Lord Zedd (talk) 15:32, 17 October 2017 (UTC)

Winter War[edit]

The problem with the section on Simo Hähyä helping Finland win the Winter War is that Finland didn't win the Winter War. Naiant (talk) 00:15, 3 November 2017 (UTC)

The article doesn't say Finland won the Winter War, but refers to the fact that they prevented the Soviets conquering most of the country. Your precise assessment of the result probably depends on whether you lived in Karelia or not, but it certainly wasn't a disaster for those Finns who remained independent. --Annanoon (talk) 17:22, 12 February 2019 (UTC)

Two notes[edit]

1. Role of Simo Häyhä in war is a little... overstated. It also does not have much to do with Objectivism.

2. "Discounting the Splicers, Plasmids, and Giant men in diving suits protecting little girls that is." I disagree. Even counting these things, Bioshock is more realistic than Atlas Shrugged. — Unsigned, by: / talk 17:03, 12 February 2019

Aleister Crowley and objectivism[edit]

At least 'Do what thou wilt' allows for an inclination to 'add to the sum of human wellbeing/enjoyment etc' Anna Livia (talk) 18:41, 12 February 2020 (UTC)

The ultimate problem with objectivist ethical egoism[edit]

The first argument reads: "This can be criticized on several grounds. Firstly, this arguably means that it is immoral to be a child, or to raise a child, or to prevent a child from working, since a child requires constant attention and aid from the parents. " This makes absolute no sense. The very reason people have children is their own self-interest to receive sexual pleasure from sex and/or to have a family, which is some of the life goals of many if not most people.

The second argument reads "Secondly, society depends on altruism to a degree. Saving a person from drowning would be an altruistic act, since you can't exactly stop to dicker over payment for your services.". People save others from drowning, not surprisingly, out of self-interest to a) save a person that matters to them, b) uphold their moral values which bring them sense of being a good person, c) follow the laws that (depending on the country) may penalize not helping a drowning person. Would a completely lunatic person living in a lawless society fully devoid of any moral values save a person that he/she despises? War crimes are a testament of how altruistic people are when the self-interest to be nice to others is removed.

The third argument reads "Thirdly, to continue the drowning example, if you let someone die for no good reason, other people will consider you an asshole of the highest order.". This is purely an argument in favor of people not being altruistic.

The case of Simo Häyhä is also in favor of the argument that true altruism is difficult to find. He, as most of Finns of that time and today, despised communism so much that he was willing to risk his life resisting it. It was very much in his self-interest not to have his fine democratic country slip into the hands of the brutal communist USSR. (talk) 07:30, 9 May 2020 (UTC)

Objectivism and monopolies[edit]

After reading from a self proclaimed Ayn Rand follower that "the government created big tech monopolies" I got curious, because my limited understanding of objectivism and Rand's positions makes me think that if you leave capitalism to its own devices, they'll naturally form monopolies and/or oligopolies. After a quick google, Rand indeed blames anti-trust laws for creating "coercive monopolies".

I keep thinking that, given enough time, larger companies will invariably use their own resources to either buy or merge with competitors and, failing that, actively work to undermine them. Can someone explain to me how exactly a completely free market as envisioned by Ayn Rand would avoid that? Or is that solely derived from wishful thinking that entrepreneurs who try that get "blacklisted" and "shunned"? Mistermano (talk) 16:59, 25 January 2021 (UTC)

On talk pages, please sign your comments using four tildes (~~~~) or by clicking on the sign button: SigButt.png on the toolbar above the edit panel. You can also indent successive talk page comments using one more colon (:) for each line. Thank you. Knight CommanderIn ServiceTo HerGoatness 15:20, 25 January 2021 (UTC)
Ops, my bad. Fixed. Mistermano (talk) 16:59, 25 January 2021 (UTC)
Yep. That's one of the major reason why anarcho-capitalism, and Objectivism in particular, are just as fanciful and ignorant of reality and human nature as Communism. IveBeenFrank (talk) 17:02, 25 January 2021 (UTC)
@Mistermano So this is a bit complicated. While it's true that governments maintain monopolies, this is a very limited viewpoint. The problem is Rand and co fail to acknowledge that the reason companies compete in a market system is in fact to become monopolies. As in, that's the whole end point of the process. A completely deregulated market will spawn monopolies, and without a state to enforce their dominance they will enforce it themselves. But ultimately, even with regulations the underlying drive remains because it is nominally beneficial, from the perspective of a company, to achieve the status of a monopoly since it would then be "safe" from other companies trying to siphon its profits. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 17:16, 25 January 2021 (UTC)