Optimal thought and optimal fitness through reason, logic, science, passion, and wisdom.
Iconoclast
Iconoclast

Iconoclast

I’ve heard that Objectivists (people who live by Ayn Rand’s philosophy) aren’t friendly, aren’t good with people, are anti-family. Amy Mossof’s blog The Little Things: Surround Yourself with Things You Value shatters that illusion like a rock through glass. Wow she loves her child and her husband. Her blog shows she is friendly, she is good with people, and she is not anti-family. With such clear and unmistakable evidence as Amy, why do some people say such negative things about Objectivists? Facts are facts and lead ineluctably to certain conclusions, whether we may want the conclusions or not. It is unscientific to hold a conclusion when it is not true and you have evidence against it; and it is unscientific to not look for evidence for and against a conclusion. Aristotle looked for both. The Founding Fathers looked for both. Galileo looked for both. So did Newton, Darwin, Michael Faraday, and Ben Franklin. So should we. If we do the research that reason obligates us to, we find that such negative statements are false. To quote Thomas Jefferson again (plenty of people quote this; no one gives a citation…which I’d like to see!):
Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.

4 Comments

  1. Amy

    Wow. Thank you! I take this as a great compliment. I’m really honored that you used me as an example of this type of Objectivist because this issue is something I have strong feelings about.

    I do think there is some evidence, *on the surface*, for some people’s belief that Objectivists are unfriendly, wacko, and anti-family. The people who proclaim their status as an Objectivist the loudest, the ones who find their identity in membership in this “group” are, quite often, angry, anti-social people. Most educated people seem to have met one or two of these types. I certainly have.

    But I’ve found that there are so many other people who are strong Objectivists, quasi-Objectivists, or even fellow travelers, who are pursuing the values they have chosen in their own lives with such passion and committment, that they are way to busy to be pushing Objectivism into other people’s faces. (I’m exluding intellectuals here, since it is their job to push ideas into other people’s faces.) These are the best people in the world, and I’m lucky that I’ve found some good friends amongst those Objectivists. I’m also lucky to have found my husband, who taught me how to be one of them, and not the other kind.

  2. I think disgruntled ex-Objectivists are to blame for a good deal of the bad press regarding Objectivists and Ayn Rand in particular (something that has been discussed very productively at NoodleFood.com). I also think there was a tendency among the same cast of miscreants to confuse mimicry of Rand’s concrete personal preferences with sharing her principles. In other words, one needn’t smoke and love “tiddlywink” music to be a good Objectivist 😉

    Thankfully, we seem to be entering a new phase of the cultural movement, where it’s realized that there are many possible concrete implementations of the same abstract values. And that’s a great thing.

  3. Amy:

    I’ve been busy all day, so I couldn’t respond till now. I’ve been running around tutoring geometry (love it), checking on my horse, and stealing some time to eat.

    Love your blog. I read it a lot. I find it fun, positive and fresh; and it comes at life joyfully…which shows you do. I like to read your insight into things and your observations on life.

    I thank you and Jeff for the reasons you give as to why some people might have faulty ideas about Objectivists.

    I’d add (in keeping with the science- and education-oriented nature of my post) that some of those false ideas arise from hasty generalization — which is no surprise, since the general culture is (sadly) non-intellectual or anti-intellectual and non-rational or anti-rational. To critically and explicitly judge one’s own generalizations requires some (at least implicit) knowledge of induction, which people, sadly, don’t generally have. (Some of these issues have been explored in articles I have linked to in past posts.)

    But then, you could argue that people don’t even have that excuse: being careful not to judge people wrongly is drilled in us from kindergarten, and is an issue that is centuries old.

    Yet people continue to do it to this day, to men, women, blacks, whites, Muslims, believers in evolution, etc. People mouth Martin Luther King, but don’t really morally and intellectually grasp what he said, nor do they act on it. (If someone is wrong or evil, then, yes, we should judge them accordingly — but not until and unless we have the evidence.)

    Another issue to consider is that we all make mistakes and can tentatively hold a wrong conclusion until we have time to think it through. But we have to realize that we need to take that time. Reason is self-correcting only if we clean house and do that correcting.

    And we have to put judgments about people in context of…judging people. We have call to mind the fact that in every belief system — Catholic, Buddhist, Muslim, Marxist, Christian, Wiccan, Nazi, Hindu — there are people who are mean, unfriendly, anti-family, anti-social, etc. No philosophy or system of belief will be exempt from “followers” like that. It is wishful thinking, context-dropping and unscientific to think otherwise.

    We have to remember to:
    1) find evidence for a conclusion;
    2) look to see if there is evidence against that conclusion;
    3) consider the conclusion in light of other things we know (context);
    4) look for causal relationships.
    Such are the key factors which would lead to a scientific judgment.

    But Amy’s character as expressed in her blog shows that those criteria are not met by the “Objectivists are anti-family, unfriendly and unsocial” claims. The disconfirming evidence (Amy’s blog) is there in easy public access. And, in terms of causality, she is living — taking her word for it — by Objectivist principles. She shows me that Objectivism does not lead necessarily to being anti-social, rude, and anti-family — rather, she shows me that it can lead to friendly, civil, pro-family conclusions and lifestyles.

    People need to do their research.

    One thing we could do would be to look for more and varied evidence — e.g., more Objectivist blogs. We could see what they are like, and see to what conclusion they point.

    Thanks for your blog, Amy! It’s refreshing. 🙂

  4. Robert Taylor

    As a 62 year young Objectivist, I’ve just finished re-reading “Atlas Shrugged” for the 4th time. I’m as impressed as much now as when I first read it. It emboldens my spirit and re-aligns my goals in life. It should be a psychotherapist’s prescription of required reading for many of his patients. It always illustrates to me that there is and should be a personal “purpose” to this life culminating in pride and joyful living.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.