• boethius
    244
    I'd never use the phrase "take seriously," and I've not said anything even slightly supportive of Rand.Terrapin Station

    Which is why I used the words "a bit seriously".

    Respond to Benkei:

    She's not taken seriously because objectivism is crap. When she's right, she's unoriginal and when she's wrong, it's clear she isn't aware of philosophical history and so obviously wrong it just makes her look stupid. Hence anyone downplaying the reasons for this by suggesting she's not taken seriously for irrational reasons is tacitly endorsing crap.Benkei

    If you want to defend your claim that:

    I think Rand blows.Terrapin Station
  • Terrapin Station
    12.5k
    Which is why I used the words "a bit seriously".boethius

    Are you an Aspie?
  • ssu
    1.5k
    Yes, please defend your thesis by referencing Rand's material.boethius
    Ok, so now I have to defend my argument. With references. With Detail. So be it, Boethius.

    So I said
    She was neither. I would say she was a writer that more of right-wing libertarian conservative who invented her own philosophy of objectivism, which typically is just a resell of older classical philosophy done in a light-weight manner. And when her actual work are works of literature, so her philosophy is quite weak.ssu

    So I'll defend my argument. With "neither" above refers to the earlier arguments that she was a socialist or a fascist:

    1) Ayn Rand is not a socialist
    This might be obvious to any Rand reader as she is devoted in seeing Laissez-Fair Capitalism as far more than private ownership of capital and resource allocation through using the market mechanism, but truly an ideal in political economic system, which has good philosophical ramifications. Her hatred of socialism ought to be evident, but if not, just one quote from many:

    Reference to Rand,

    There is no difference between communism and socialism, except in the means of achieving the same ultimate end: communism proposes to enslave men by force, socialism - by vote. It is merely the difference between murder and suicide.

    2) Ayn Rand is not a fascist
    As Ayn Rand champions the individual and is against centralized government, it should be obvious that she isn't for fascism either, an ideology that believes in the strong government that has a central role in nearly everything. Basically Rand see's socialism, communism, fascism and nazism as a similar thing, basically as the collectivism and 'statism' that she opposes. She's against the idea that they actually would be any kind of opposites (fascism and socialism that is).

    A quote from Rand:

    The difference between [socialism and fascism] is superficial and purely formal, but it is significant psychologically: it brings the authoritarian nature of a planned economy crudely into the open. The main characteristic of socialism (and of communism) is public ownership of the means of production, and, therefore, the abolition of private property. The right to property is the right of use and disposal. Under fascism, men retain the semblance or pretense of private property, but the government holds total power over its use and disposal.

    And if that line isn't somehow enough, well, just listen 12 minutes to the following:



    It's quite ridiculous line that Rand would be a fascist. This assumption perhaps starts from the idea that when she is so much for capitalism, then she actually wants fascism. Idea of hidden agenda or adjacency or something as loony is similar to the traditional line that 20th Century communists saw fascism.

    3) Ayn Rand's objectivism is a resell of older classical philosophy done in a light-weight manner
    With light-weight manner I refer to the fact that Rand first stated her philosophy fictional novels, not philosophical works. In a fictional novel it's even more easy to assume extremely unrealistic narrative than in some historical or philosophical text. And why it's a resell of older classical philosophy:

    My philosophy, Objectivism, holds that:

    1) Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.

    2) Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.

    3) Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.

    In my view perhaps this would have been something modern yet mediocre in the time of the Enlightment, but saying facts are facts is very amateur (perhaps not understanding the circular reasoning). Statement 2) comes close to something like naive realism with the spin on the importance of the individual. It also simply disregards traditional philosophy. Statement 3) is just part of the appraisal of laissef-faire capitalism and individualism to a larger than life philosophy. In my view this is quite shallow. And then one quote that does show Rand's shallow and limited understanding of philosophy.

    The only philosophical debt I can acknowledge is to Aristotle. I most emphatically disagree with a great many parts of his philosophy—but his definition of the laws of logic and of the means of human knowledge is so great an achievement that his errors are irrelevant by comparison.

    Of course, philosophy seems for Rand not to have advanced since Aristotle... before her, at least.

    Do I favour Rand? Hell no. But I won't agree with stupid arguments like "Rand is a fascist/socialist" because they go against her thinking totally and thus just shows an ignorant and condescending attitude that actually Rand followers will be waiting to hear especially from the left. Hence it's actually counterproductive. Far better to attack the loony side of her ultra-individualist ideology, which smells being a motivational book for the American travelling salesman.

    Hopefully this would clarify my argument, Boethius. Because from your response I think you haven't even bothered to look at what I wrote. (So that you would read this long answer is, well...)
  • boethius
    244
    Ok, so now I have to defend my argument.ssu

    Yes, you do actually have to defend your argument. I think that's what we do here.

    With references. With Detail. So be it, Boethius.ssu

    You are free to defend your case by flipping the burden of proof on me.

    But I think you know where that would lead and why I first responded to your concerns by listing a whole list of crank philosophies. But since you mention it in passing as a implied criticism, I think we should deal with it as explicit debate.

    For, if I need to prove in the positive sense Rand is a crank philosophy, by going through all her work and listing all the contradictions and writing a whole thesis PhD style on each one to definitely show that, almost certainly, there is no possible interpretation that makes sense, then I'd hold you to the same standard for any other crank philosophy.

    Demand you read through all 7 volumes of The Chronicles of the Girku before dismissing it.

    Do you not know ssu, that the Girku Chronicles is just a rehash of the work of Carl Sagan? Sagan also talked about aliens, so does the Girku. Anything wrong with the Girku is because it's fiction! dumb dumb! you also need to read through all the other published commentary, the online forums, go to several years worth of meetings, directly connect to the alien sub-quantum-frequency broadcast*, to have any chance of understanding what the Girku really means. The arrogance of these philosophers!

    Now, the Girku might be true. I don't dismiss the Girku because I have an arrogant epistemology where I'm right and everyone else is false. The Girku makes little sense (and I read the first volume to better understand what humanity gets up to); but the truth might make little sense. The Girku reinterprets all history as the work of aliens and dismisses thousands of years of non-alien based explanations for things by nearly all historians past and present; well, aliens would certainly have that power to both determine our history, hide their involvement and individually manipulate each of our historians if they must and then choose the Girku author to reveal themselves.

    Given this, that we cannot be certain the Girku is false. Why haven't you read it and are not continuously proposing to the forum to, if not believe it, at least take it a bit-seriously as just a variation of Saganism?

    And this is a serious question, I require your answer in order to apply a common (and fair) standard to Rand.

    Once we agree on this standard, then I will respond to the idea that Rand is just an enlightenment thinker transported to the 20th century.

    I know why I dismiss the Girku "Without references. Without Detail.", do you?

    Now, is Rand more serious simply because we are discussing it here? Well, I just brought in the Girku so we're now also discussing the Girku here; the Girku is a newer revelation and so naturally takes time to be discussed as much as Rand on philosophy forums.

    *I have zero clue if you really need to connect to the sub-quantum-frequency-broadcast to understand the Girku, or if I just did connect and I've just been told that all humans can now connect if they want as an additional avenue and easier way to just download the information into their brains (seven volume of non-sequitur was only for the courageous pioneers). So, if you haven't connected, well that's your choice to continue to grope around in the darkness, cherish your ignorance.

    Edit: I'll of course address the "she's not fascist argument" (and we will find some common ground there, though not much) but my position is her philosophy is crank level and not "Ayn Rand's objectivism is a resell of older classical philosophy done in a light-weight manner" or "In my view perhaps this would have been something modern yet mediocre in the time of the Enlightment"; I view this as a gross misrepresentation of classical philosophy and associating Rand with the enlightenment is ridiculous, so I definitely want to deal with that first, which requires a criteria to distinguish "enlightenment quality" if only written yesterday, and crank quality both yesterday, today and tomorrow. To give a preview of my next arguments after that; I agree that Rand doesn't "want fascism", the issue is whether her philosophy, if taken to heart, leads to fascism anyways regardless of what she wanted and if there's anything in her philosophy, other than blatantly contradictory statements or simply flatly denying it, that would lead us to conclude otherwise.
  • ssu
    1.5k
    Edit: I'll of course address the "she's not fascist argument"boethius
    Really? Address something that I actually wrote in the edit section? Gosh.

    (and we will find some common ground there, though not much)boethius
    Good you had the answer in parentheses and added "though not much". Otherwise it would have been really awkward. There is obviously no reason whatsoever to discuss the thoughts of a crank.

    but my position is her philosophy is crank levelboethius
    And obviously that is the most effective way to counter the ideas is to call her a crank. Now why didn't I think of this when somebody starts to talk silly things like Marxist economics. Just denote the Marxists to be cranks. They'll surely notice their error, apologize and change their views. Problem solved boethius style.

    I view this as a gross misrepresentationboethius
    Of mediocre 18th Century philosophy? No. Because she's a crank, got it.

    I agree that Rand doesn't "want fascism",boethius
    But she's a crank.

    the issue is whether her philosophy, if taken to heart, leads to fascism anyways regardless of what she wanted and if there's anything in her philosophy, other than blatantly contradictory statements or simply flatly denying it, that would lead us to conclude otherwise.boethius
    Is this good English? (As a stupid foreigner, how could I now?)

    Still, it's a whimsical idea that has been reurgitated so many times that it starts to sounds like it would be true (for leftists, thati is): that laissez-fair capitalism and individualism "anyways regardless" transforms to fascism. Yet wasn't it that libertarianism lead to Somalia-style situation? I remember that meme widely cherised in the left also. Oh, that might be so yesteryear. Now it leads to fascism, got it.

    And of course, if Rand's views are silly, then we can refute her views with equally silly arguments like she is a fascist. Sounds really convincing.
  • boethius
    244
    Really? Address something that I actually wrote in the edit section? Gosh.ssu

    Ok, you have no standard of what is crank philosophy.

    You've obviously thought about it, and perhaps you offer no standard because you realize a lot of what you already said about Rand would fit snugly into that standard.

    Good you had the answer in parentheses and added "though not much". Otherwise it would have been really awkward.ssu

    I have zero problem recognizing we have common ground, it's not awkward to for me to say you do have points I agree with and points that I don't.

    There is obviously no reason whatsoever to discuss the thoughts of a crank.ssu

    This is not my position. I think the Girku is crankish, but I still read the first volume even after it passes my standard of crankishness with flying colours on the first one or two pages.

    Why did I read it then? Because others believe it. If no one believed it, or everyone who liked it viewed it as just entertaining fiction and nothing more.

    And this is why Rand is discussed more than the Girku on philosophy forum, since enough people believe in Rand's ideology to have political force. If Rand really was just a "mediocre Enlightenment author" that no one studied or believed; it was just a footnote to historians that someone advocated that "altruism is evil", but no one believed it because it's as absurd on the surface as completely devoid of any meaning at all when unpacked, then no one would care, least of all me. But people do believe it and these people have real consequences in the world. Though simply "number of belief" and "political consequence" shouldn't change what academic philosophers view as crankish material, as that would be to admit that content has not much relevance and only popularity and further to admit that any similar material should be taken as seriously because it might one day become popular.

    If adherents of the Girku developed into a political force and, after merging with Scientology, wanted to start simulate the drowning of people to purge them of Thetans as this they have discovered was the best way to deal with dissenters, I'm fairly confident that you would suddenly view their ideology as warranting discussion. You don't have any desire to discuss the Girku now because, for now, they represent no political force.

    But, again these questions are serious, would you change your opinion of the Girku being crankish material just because it developed into a political force? Or, would you say your opinion of the material has not changed?

    Based on your answer, I think it very likely we can quickly close the chapter on "is Rand crankish material or not", which has been my position I have been defending, and move onto what you find most important which is "should people be calling her fascist or not". (of course I'll also briefly go over why she's no "mediocre enlightenment material" or "rehash of classical philosophy", which are both in my view completely ludicrous statements, that shouldn't go unchallenged)

    I'm sure you are aware I have not once called her a fascist in this argument nor bring the word "fascist into the argument", just that, once the word appeared and you took issue with it, explained my own view that fascists saw it convenient to promote her ideology (does this make her a Fascist yes and no. No, to the extent "she doesn't want fascism in her heart", yes to the extent she was promoting an ideology and cooperating in processes that lead to fascism). So this is our common ground: that we both don't just call her a fascist because she "wanted fascism". Do you see a lot of common ground beyond that, or agree with me that it is "not much".

    For, as you are certainly also aware, "well meaning" and "what we want" (absent any critical thinking that would what our actions are likely to lead to) are tricky concepts in moral philosophy. Is the SS officer taking his coffee on the Fields of Mars and seeing Jews and other riffraff being assembled to be sent to the East somewhere, morally exculpated because he might "means well" and "wishes them no harm".
  • ssu
    1.5k
    enough people believe in Rand's ideology to have political force.boethius
    Rand is one of these typical immigrants to the US who praise the exceptionality of the American system. She makes this mix of individualism, libertarianism and capitalism in a way that obviously some Americans like. I think it is simply counterproductive brush this of as ludicrous humbug of one crank. You Americans genuinely voted Trump to be your President, so that tells a lot. And people here are discussing solipsism, so...

    would you change your opinion of the Girku being crankish material just because it developed into a political force?boethius
    Your lurid example of merging with Scientology is beside the point here, so I'll answer to this above.

    If many people believed in Girku or whatever whacky movement, I wouldn't just skip their ideas being baseless. You see, I genuinely believe in democracy. And I believe that the vast majority of at least my fellow adult citizens are sane and aware of political realities hence capable of choosing their elective representatives and upholding the nation of ours. And things have gone here quite fine. If they would start believing in Girku, sure, I may not agree with them, but simply stating that they are CRAZY doesn't get us anywhere else than in a worse fix. For some movement to become a genuine political movement, it simply cannot be an eccentric cult, but something that ordinary mentally stable people will adhere to. Calling then those ideas (that you don't support) ideas of a crank / madman is just part of the typical political tribalism of today that doesn't see a need for any dialogue. Naturally just sidelining them being cranks and crazies would be extremely arrogant and condescending. You see it's one thing to argue "I disagree with you, you are confusing" than to say "You should get help because you are mentally ill." The latter is not dialogue.

    I'm sure you are aware I have not once called her a fascist in this argument nor bring the word "fascist into the argument", just that, once the word appeared and you took issue with itboethius
    Look, I just made a comment that she isn't a fascist to Pattern-chaser's comment, It's you that is making a huge fuss about it.

    my own view that fascists saw it convenient to promote her ideology (does this make her a Fascist yes and no. No, to the extent "she doesn't want fascism in her heart", yes to the extent she was promoting an ideology and cooperating in processes that lead to fascism).boethius
    This is this strange adjacency accusation which I actually don't like at all. That basically what you actually say doesn't matter, but if the wrong people (who you don't have things in common) refer to you, quote you or whatever, then YOU have common ideologies and sympathies with them. Even if you have said you oppose them. This is simply ludicrous and utterly illogical.

    First of all "promoting an ideology and cooperating in processes that lead to fascism" is the typical "political gateway drug"-argument used by intolerant, narrow minded and typically ignorant people on both sides who really share a hatred of the other side (but I don't think you are one of these however). The other side hasn't just bad ideas about policies that in the end won't work, no, they have this evil covered up agenda that they try to sell in sheep's clothing. It would be TOTALLY SAME as to make the case that Bernie Sanders as a "socialist" is "promoting an ideology and cooperating in processes" that leads Communism and totalitarianism to come. And many Trumpist will definately be thinking so, if Bernie would some day become President.


    And it's absurd, but that's the way the World is.

    Of course you did have the declarations in Soviet Union of it being "the real democracy" and similar stuff can happen (like neonazis saying that actually they are for libertarianism), but the likely reason is just there is absolutely no ideological backbone, but only issues are given to people to what they like. As I said, it's absurd. Yet in a Philosophy Forum we might discuss the actual ideologies and what people actually say...

    For, as you are certainly also aware, "well meaning" and "what we want" (absent any critical thinking that would what our actions are likely to lead to) are tricky concepts in moral philosophy. Is the SS officer taking his coffee on the Fields of Mars and seeing Jews and other riffraff being assembled to be sent to the East somewhere, morally exculpated because he might "means well" and "wishes them no harm".boethius
    It's not tricky, it's a historical fact that many ideologies have started from the simple idea that making the World better, some people simply have to be killed. And many people have accepted these kind of ideas, unfortunately. And on both sides of the political divide.

    And why would the SS officer even think so? If he would be a devoted nazi, he would likely understand that someone has to do the ugly stuff, but he has to be strong as he, after all, is an übermensch. Just as the NKVD officers liquidating peasants as class-enemies could find solace, being a true communist fighting for the revolution, in the theories of Marx that the class enemy has to be dealt with and this will happen in a violent way.
  • boethius
    244
    Rand is one of these typical immigrants to the US who praise the exceptionality of the American system.ssu

    If you want to psychologize Rand, open a new thread in the psychology section.

    She's dead, so will not be able to benefit from any psychological analysis you have in order to amend her biases.

    She makes this mix of individualism, libertarianism and capitalism in a way that obviously some Americans like. I think it is simply counterproductive brush this of as ludicrous humbug of one crank.ssu

    It's not ludicrous why people believe ludicrous humbug of a crank, it happens all the time, and we should take it seriously.

    I agree it's counter productive to brush aside this fact in political analysis, for it makes up the political world, in this specific case but also a general case.

    The question of the OP is why is the material, as such, not taken seriously by academic philosophers. And the answer is that it's ludicrous humbug of one crank: otherwise they would take it seriously.

    To say otherwise is to mischaracterize the views of most academic philosophers. And if they say otherwise, I would say nearly in every case, it's to spare feelings, as you suggest, but if you then ask "if you saw this material today, and it was presented as new, would you take it seriously or would you dismiss it as crankish?" the answer is, very likely, they would dismiss it as crankish and they would point to the obvious errors in reasoning that the whole purpose of academic philosophy is to strive to avoid.

    You Americans genuinely voted Trump to be your President, so that tells a lot. And people here are discussing solipsism, so...ssu

    Sigh ... not an American ... don't live in America ... don't see how that would change the discussion. I suppose it's some sort of ad hominem referencing the American left's unhealthy obsession with the health of their political system.

    I recommend you introspect why you would just wantonly assume false premises and if it has only ever occurred this once or whether it happens all the time. Now, I don't expect you to share the results of this introspection today, nor tomorrow, but some day perhaps, and on that day I do not expect you will give me credit for having pointed you in this direction. But will that be just another false premise? I know not these things.

    Your lurid example of merging with Scientology is beside the point here, so I'll answer to this above.ssu

    Why is it lurid? People believe it, we can psychologize about why Scientologists like Scientology just as much as Randians like Rand.

    You seem to agree with the entirety of my methods, dismiss a movement's content as lurid or wacky, when they are not a political ally of yours.

    If they are a political ally of yours, promoting policies that sometimes align with your position, then, regardless of why they promote these policies and who might be paying them to do so, we need to put on the kitten gloves and stroke their hair and keep them around on the forum as some sort of pet, that, sure, the meows and purrs aren't participating in philosophy but doesn't mean we can't have cute philosophical names for these kittens.

    But, prey tell, if you really do use the same standard for all, tell us why Scientology's content isn't "baseless"? Tell us why the Girku's content isn't "baseless".

    As I said, to make any advancement I will need a common and fair standard in order to tell the difference between crank and not crank, between rehash of classical philosophy and crank, between mediocre enlightenment and crank. Propose a standard and we can go from there vis-a-vis the OP's question.

    Look, I just made a comment that she isn't a fascist to Pattern-chaser's comment, It's you that is making a huge fuss about it.ssu

    Then render to Pattern-chaser what is Pattern-chaser's.

    Though I didn't bring in the word fascist, I didn't say it's an irrelevant topic to discuss here. My position is more nuanced than Pattern-chaser's, at least as first presented, if you want to debate against Pattern-chaser, do so, if you want to debate against me, then expect me to present my own position and to clarify it when it seems misunderstood -- I think you would do the same.

    This is this strange adjacency accusation which I actually don't like at all. That basically what you actually say doesn't matter, but if the wrong people (who you don't have things in common) refer to you, quote you or whatever, then YOU have common ideologies and sympathies with them. Even if you have said you oppose them. This is simply ludicrous and utterly illogical.ssu

    Following this reasoning, if Stalin said he was opposed to tyranny, he is not a tyrant, case closed. It would be completely illogical and ludicrous to say otherwise.

    There are in fact two other logical possibilities:

    A. Stalin is lying when he said he's opposed to tyranny.

    B. Stalin does not understand what is meant by tyranny and is in fact commenting on something else.

    Furthermore, I choose my words carefully, why not carefully reflect upon them?

    I said:
    does this make her a Fascist yes and no. No, to the extent "she doesn't want fascism in her heart", yes to the extent she was promoting an ideology and cooperating in processes that lead to fascismboethius

    I used the words "yes, to the extent", meaning it is up for debate to what extent it is. If she had no participation in fascism or creating fascist ideology, then the term fascism would indeed be this adjacency fallacy. However, if she created a fascist ideology that she simply didn't refer to as fascism and does not understand what historians understand by the word fascism, then she is a fascist in this sense; likewise, if she knowingly helped fascists then she is a fascist in this sense of participation in a fascist movement. If she helped fascists, but not knowingly, I agree we cannot say she is fascist to this extent, only that she was a useful idiot of fascists.

    Since this seems your main concern, whether we "call people names" which I agree we shouldn't if those names are only insults and provide no insight. I agree that we shouldn't call movement's making use of, or or entirely based on, crank material as "crazy" movements.

    However, we can not simply call no one names at all, that people aren't people, that children aren't children, that a socialist is not a socialist, that a fascist is not a fascist. What matters in these cases is if the name is useful, does it express some useful meaning, and of course whether there's any actual evidence the meaning is useful in describing the person.

    You seem to want to live in a world where all fascists and all fascist ideology simply vanished after World War II. This is a dangerous world view.

    I will deal with other trivia, and then present my position on the matter in my next post, though it may take a few days; as I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

    It's not tricky, it's a historical fact that many ideologies have started from the simple idea that making the World better, some people simply have to be killed. And many people have accepted these kind of ideas, unfortunately. And on both sides of the political divide.ssu

    It is tricky if "well meaning" and "what we want" is morally exculpatory as all these movements you refer to will all say "ah, we meant well" and "ah, we didn't want our actions to result in a totalitarian hellscape". If "well meaning" is sufficient for moral exoneration, this applies to nearly everyone. If we want to condemn the SS officer we need more, as someone can simply insist he "means well" and we cannot be sure he "doesn't mean well".
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    Really? You think Ron Paul is a fascist? How bizarre.

    If things go right, we here in the UK may soon see our first-ever socialist leader! — Pattern-chaser

    First ever??? What happened to Clement Attlee?
    ssu

    :blush: First-ever in my lifetime. :blush: Typing fingers got ahead of brain. As for Ron Paul, the only (left-wing) US politicians I know are Warren and Sanders. And some of their ideas are still scary, coming from 'socialists'. But that's just my perspective. At least they have some concern for the American working man and woman.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    Look, I just made a comment that she isn't a fascist to Pattern-chaser's commentssu

    Please let's be clear: I commented that the vast majority of American politicians - even the supposedly left-wing ones - look like fascists to me, here on the edge of Europe, on the other side of the Atlantic. And there are plenty of people here in the UK who don't share my opinions. :wink: (Even) I wouldn't've been rash enough to call an individual politician "fascist" without just a little more thinking about it first. :smile: Sorry for my loose tongue! :wink:
  • boethius
    244
    3) Ayn Rand's objectivism is a resell of older classical philosophy done in a light-weight manner.ssu

    I have returned from my travels, and finally have the time to deliver the promised goods of why Ayn Rand is neither a rehash of classical ancient Greek philosophy nor can be somehow associated with the enlightenment, lest anyone fall upon this thread and believe there's no backing up these claims when the bill comes due.

    Though I think we have come to agree on most things, I think it's important to clarify that Rand isn't "light weight" good classical philosophy in a novel form, but completely incompatible with the positions of any classical philosopher.

    Now that I'm back home, I even have my copy of the Fountain Head to draw on, that some misguided economically irrational person left at a "take a book / leave a book" -- the worst insult I have ever seen thrown at an author's message -- which I needed to rectify by taking it without leaving anything.

    The reasons are very simple.

    The core theme of classical philosophy is the tension between the interests of the individual and the interests of the group. As society's became more complex, the link between the interests of the individual and the group became more indirect and abstract, and classical philosophers took note of this and tried to resolve the issue. The classical thinkers are unanimous that some sort of "virtue" (what we call social norms) is necessary to maintain society as they knew it, what we would call civilization.

    There are really only two sides to the debate in classical times:

    One side accepts the virtue needed to maintain society (honest trading and non-corrupted politicians, abstaining from thievery, soldiers dying in wars, general loyalty to the government and society, striving for excellence in ones domain to contribute etc.) and their differences are in how to argue for the general framework (why exactly it's reasonable to be virtuous) as well as what exactly is virtuous. All these virtue theories of one form or another are completely incompatible with Rand's thinking; they are all collectivist, differing only in how the collective is defined, why act in its interest, what is exactly the collective interest and to what extent one is morally bound to do so.

    The second group reject the framework, as does Rand, but unlike Rand they take the credible next step of completely accepting that getting rid of the rules upon which society is based gets rid of that kind of society. The best example is Diogenes who rejects all "your rules man" and on a first analysis we may see the attempt to make the Randian style ubermensch once free from social constraints. But after 2 seconds we quickly see there is no common thread between Diogenes and Rand. Diogenes lived as a beggar, and viewed civilization as basically a moral illness, whereas Rand believes rejecting society's rules can somehow deliver a better society in line with those social values she's rejecting. Diogenes does not actually reject virtue based ethics of acting in the best interest of society, just that those rules have been corrupting, and his own actions he justifies as teaching society (like Socrates) as a doctor healing wayward morals (i.e. he selflessly takes risk exposing the unjustifiable social norms and teaches real moral philosophy for the good of the collective).

    In other words, it's completely credible philosophically to reject social norms ... if one then accepts the corollary that those social norms would then radically change society if rejected on mass. Likewise, it's philosophically credible to claim one should reject social norms and take advantage of the people that keep to them (entering deals with no intention of honoring them; seeing no problem of stealing, murdering and raping when one can get away with it, and pursuing one's fancy without any reference to what most people would call "morals", whether in business or crime or government, getting ahead with unconstrained ruthless efficiency), and again accept the corollary that this only works because there are many fools to keep perpetuating the value of society. What's not credible is to reject social norms, such as selfless actions required to preserve society and perpetuate the value within, and then claim this will through some obscure convoluted process, that is never developed, result in a better version of that society: more creativity and inventions, less poverty (eventually), in short more peace and prosperity as the West understands it.

    Discussions with Randians just go round in circles from blaming any obvious example of greed resulting in bad social outcomes for the group (e.g. the Mafia) on the greedy, lazy selfishness of politicians and bureaucrats for not implementing the "right system" (legalizing drugs) that align incentives for the social good, with the irony completely lost on them.

    Rand's thinking only seems plausible if the basic structure of society is taken for granted: that impartial courts with uncorruptible judges will determine what belongs to who with impartiality, that police will take great personal risk to enforce these court definitions of property and not take bribes, soldiers will sacrifice their lives when needed (and follow lawful orders rather that stage a coup) to protect the entire system, and politicians will honestly manage these institutions for the good of all.

    No classical philosopher had such a preposterous view that these institutions could be maintained somehow without anyone taking personal risk for the good of the group (i.e. acting not for the preservation of the self but for the preservation of the collective), nor believed that some magical alignment of incentives could be created that keeps society humming along without anyone acting outside there self interest (and even less believed the more absurd implication of Randians views that such a system could come into existing by a similar process of people only looking out for themselves). To academics, the problems are so obvious that there's simply nothing to debate.

    Comparing to the Enlightenment is largely a repetition of the above. Nietzsche is the obvious candidate to substitute for Diogenes, but again we find Nietzsche is completely aware that the rejection of social norms will result in radical changes to society, that by definition are not evaluated as good from the perspective of those collapsing social norms: that the definition of "good" will become unmoored. There's of course lot's that is up for interpretation and debate of what Nietzsche believes is "actually good" or if he is even concerned with that question but just observing what's happening; but what is clear is that Nietzsche doesn't make any completely absurd claim such as "Christian norms collapsing will result in an even better Christian society!" much less anything remotely similar to the even more absurd claims of Rand.

    Rand can claim "greed is good" but the corollary is that judges accepting this idea will be greedy, as well police, soldiers and politicians, and civilization will quickly disintegrate if this idea is adopted en masse. She can say such a process would be good and that would be a credible positions; but she doesn't, she simply denies the obvious implications of her claim. If we look at figures such as Machiavelli we find similar incompatibilities with Rand.

    Randians think that an obvious fatal flaw in a position isn't a problem, that they just don't have to explain why public servants should serve the public good (they respect the troops, and that's enough), but that's not how academic philosophy is discussed: flaws need to be mended, and if they aren't a position loses credibility; and if there's not even an attempt then the proponents of that position are identified as crankish and delusional.

    However, if there is any issue with the above, or any other classical philosopher who is proposed as pre-saging Rand, it's best to discuss that first before rehashing the above argument vis-a-vis the enlightenment.
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