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Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand's Vision and Warning
04-17-2011, 10:45 AM,
#1
Lightbulb  Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand's Vision and Warning
Quote:Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand's Vision and Warning
from Braincrave Second Life staff
Apr 17, 2011

There's an adage that goes: if you've got enemies, it means you stood up for something in life. Out of all of the potential philosophies that you could adopt in your life, perhaps none may be more controversial than Ayn Rand's Objectivism. The philosophy advocates "reason, individualism, enlightened self-interest, political freedom - and a heroic vision of life's possibilities."

Sales of her 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged continue to soar, one of the primary reasons likely being that the events and villains in the novel are incredibly similar to modern day. Part 1 of the novel was recently made into a movie and just opened on April 15 (US tax day). Although there are many differences between the movie and the book, there is a strong hope by Objectivists that the movie will drive more to read the book to gain a full appreciation for the ideas.

Cinematic Trailer for Atlas Shrugged Part I





Ayn Rand's ideas have often been misrepresented and misunderstood, sometimes even by those who claim themselves Objectivists. But it seems fair to say that her protégé and "secret" lover understood them well. Generally, he thinks her ideas are wonderful. However, he does have some disagreements.

What do you think of the Objectivist ideas? Do you agree with some of Nathaniel Branden's critiques? What is your preferred philosophy? If you saw the movie this weekend, what did you think?


The following is an excerpt from The Benefits and Hazards of the Philosophy of Ayn Rand :: A Personal Statement by Nathaniel Branden, PhD
Copyright © 1984, Association for Humanistic Psychology
http://www.nathanielbranden.com/catalog/articles_essays/benefits_and_hazards.html

Code:
In this article, I cannot provide an overview of Rand's entire system, let alone discuss each point in detail. I want to discuss here only a few basic issues, a few broad fundamentals that strike me as particularly important in terms of their impact on her admirers.

What, in essence, does objectivism teach? What are the fundamentals of the Ayn Rand philosophy?

Objectivism teaches:

1. That reality is what it is, that things are what they are, independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, judgments or opinions - that existence exists, that A is A;
2. That reason, the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by the various senses, is fully competent, in principle, to understand the facts of reality;
3. That any form of irrationalism, supernaturalism, or mysticism, any claim to a nonsensory, nonrational form of knowledge, is to be rejected;
4. That a rational code of ethics is possible and is derivable from an appropriate assessment of the nature of human beings as well as the nature of reality;
5. That the standard of the good is not God or the alleged needs of society but rather "Man's life," that which is objectively required for man's or woman's life, survival, and well-being;
6. That a human being is an end in him- or herself, that each one of us has the right to exist for our own sake, neither sacrificing others to self nor self to others;
7. That the principles of justice and respect for individuality autonomy, and personal rights must replace the principle of sacrifice in human relationships;
8. That no individual - and no group - has the moral right to initiate the use of force against others;
9. That force is permissible only in retaliation and only against those who have initiated its use;
10. That the organizing principle of a moral society is respect for individual rights and that the sole appropriate function of government is to act as guardian and protector of individual rights.

So, Rand was a champion and advocate of reason, self-interest individual rights, and political and economic freedom. She advocated a total separation of state and economics, just as - and for the same reason as - we now have the separation of state and church. She took the position, and it is a position I certainly share, that just as the government has no proper voice in the religious beliefs or practices of people, provided no one else's rights are violated, so there should be freedom or production and trade between and among consenting adults.

Obviously there is a good deal more to her philosophy than this brief sketch can begin to convey but we are talking here in terms of fundamentals - and these are the core ideas at the base of everything else she wrote...

The benefits

Now what are some of the values that Ayn Rand offers, as a philosopher, to the many people who have been moved by her work? To begin with, she offered a comprehensive and intelligible view of the universe, a frame of reference by means of which we can understand the world. She was a philosophical system builder who offered a systematic vision of what life on this planet is essentially about and a vision of human nature and human relationships. And the point right now is not whether she was right or wrong in all respects of that vision, but that she had a vision, a highly developed one, one that seemed to promise comprehensiveness, intelligibility, and clarity - one that promised answers to a lot of burningly important questions about life. And human beings long for that...

Her vision is a very uplifting one, it is inspiring. It doesn't tell you your mind is impotent. It doesn't tell you that you're rotten and powerless. It doesn't tell you that your life is futile. It doesn't tell you that you are doomed. It doesn't tell you that your existence is meaningless. It tells you just the opposite.

It tells you that your main problem is that you have not learned to understand the nature of your own power and, therefore, of your own possibilities. It tells you that your mind is and can be efficacious, that you are competent to understand, that achievement is possible, and that happiness is possible. It tells you that life is not about dread and defeat and anguish but about achievement and exaltation...

The Hazards

What I have to say will by no means be exhaustive or comprehensive, but I do want to touch on just a few issues that strike me as especially important. I want to share with you what I have observed.

Confusing reason with "the reasonable"

...There is a difference between reason as a process and what any person or any group of people, at any time in history, may regard as "the reasonable." This is a distinction that very few people are able to keep clear. We all exist in history, not just in some timeless vacuum, and probably none of us can entirely escape contemporary notions of "the reasonable." It's always important to remember that reason or rationality, on the one hand, and what people may regard as "the reasonable," on the other hand, don't mean the same thing...

Encouraging Repression

Now let's turn to another very important issue in the Randian philosophy: the relationship between reason and emotion. Emotions, Rand said again and again, are not tools of cognition. True enough, they are not. Emotions, she said, proceed from value judgments, conscious or subconscious, which they do in the sense that I wrote about in The Psychology of Self-Esteem and The Disowned Self. Emotions always reflect assessments of one kind or another, as others besides Rand and myself have pointed out.

We must be guided by our conscious mind, Rand insisted; we must not follow our emotions blindly. Following our emotions blindly is undesirable and dangerous: Who can argue with that? Applying the advice to be guided by our mind isn't always as simple as it sounds. Such counsel does not adequately deal with the possibility that in a particular situation feelings might reflect a more correct assessment of reality than conscious beliefs or, to say the same thing another way, that the subconscious mind might be right while the conscious mind was mistaken...

A clash between mind and emotions is a clash between two assessments, one of which is conscious, the other might not be. It is not invariably the case that the conscious assessment is superior to the subconscious one; that needs to be checked out. The point is not that we follow the voice of emotion or feeling blindly, it means only that we don't dismiss our feelings and emotions so quickly; we try to understand what they may be telling us; we don't simply repress, rather we try to resolve the conflict between reason and feeling. We strive for harmony, for integration. We don't simply slash away the pieces of ourselves that don't fit our notion of the good or the right or the rational...

Encouraging moralizing

She may have taught that "Man's Life" is the standard of morality and your own life is its purpose, but the path she advocated to the fulfillment of your life was a severely disciplined one. She left many of her readers with the clear impression that life is a tightrope and that it is all too easy to fall off into moral depravity. In other words, on the one hand she preached a morality of joy, personal happiness, and individual fulfillment; on the other hand, she was a master at scaring the hell out of you if you respected and admired her and wanted to apply her philosophy to your own life.

...part of her vision of justice is urging you to instant contempt for anyone who deviates from reason or morality or what is defined as reason or morality. Errors of knowledge may be forgiven, she says, but not errors of morality. Even if what people are doing is wrong, even if errors of morality are involved, even if what people are doing is irrational, you do not lead people to virtue by contempt. You do not make people better by telling them they are despicable. It just doesn't work. It doesn't work when religion tries it and it doesn't work when objectivism tries it...

Conflating Sacrifice and Benevolence

...I am referring to the principle of benevolence, mutual helpfulness and mutual aid between human beings. I believe it is a virtue to support life. I believe it is a virtue to assist those who are struggling for life. I believe it is a virtue to seek to alleviate suffering. None of this entails the notion of self-sacrifice. I am not saying that we should place the interests of others above our own. I am not saying that our primary moral obligation is to alleviate the pain of others. I am not saying that we do not have the right to place our own interests first. I am saying that the principle of benevolence and mutual aid is entirely compatible with an ethic of self-interest and more: An ethic of self-interest logically must advocate the principle of benevolence and mutual aid.

Given that we live in society, and given that misfortune or tragedy can strike any one of us, it is clearly in our self-interest to live in a world in which human beings deal with one another in a spirit of mutual benevolence and helpfulness. Could anyone seriously argue that the principle of mutual aid does not have survival value?

"...Have I ever said that charity and help to others is wrong or undesirable?," Rand might demand. No, she hasn't; neither has she spoken very much about their value, beyond declaring that they are not the essence of life - and of course they are not the essence of life. They are a part of life, however, and sometimes an important part of life, and it is misleading to allow for people to believe otherwise.

Overemphasizing the role of philosophical premises

I have already mentioned that there is one great missing element in the objectivist system, namely, a theory of psychology, or, more precisely, an understanding of psychology. Rand held the view that human beings can be understood exclusively in terms of their premises, that is, in terms of their basic philosophical beliefs, along with their free will choices. This view is grossly inadequate to the complexity of the actual facts. It is, further, a view that flies totally in the face of so much that we know today about how the mind operates.

Many factors contribute to who we become as human beings: our genes, our maturation, our unique biological potentials and limitations, our life experiences and the conclusions we draw from them, the knowledge and information available to us, and, of course, our premises or philosophical beliefs, and the thinking we choose to do or not to do. And even this list is an oversimplification. The truth, is we are far from understanding everything that goes into shaping the persons we become, and it is arrogant and stupid to imagine that we do...

Encouraging dogmatism

Ayn always insisted that her philosophy was an integrated whole, that it was entirely self-consistent, and that one could not reasonably pick elements of her philosophy and discard others. In effect, she declared, "It's all or nothing." Now this is a rather curious view, if you think about it. What she was saying, translated into simple English, is: Everything I have to say in the field of philosophy is true, absolutely true, and therefore any departure necessarily leads you into error. Don't try to mix your irrational fantasies with my immutable truths. This insistence turned Ayn Rand's philosophy, for all practical purposes, into dogmatic religion, and many of her followers chose that path.
http://digg.com/news/entertainment/atlas_shrugged_ayn_rand_s_vision_and_warning_braincrave_com_where_minds_meet
http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=530

Pardon my rough flow of ideas, it's 3:30 AM but I needed to scribble something down as my initial response to this open challenge to toss around in the philosophical arena. I hope to forge them a bit more sharply when I'm a bit more conscious and the commodity of time allows such revisions.

I'm no Randian or even a pure objectivist but the mantra that you never know just how you look through other people's eyes is a nice simplistic abridged metaphoric core to my thought process. That core would extend vice versa beyond empathy, to logic, even ego and taking into consideration of the dogmatic and personal experience as well to paint the world view.

How you or I see things frame individuality proportional based not only how you perceive but how you act and react. How one acts is intrinsic to that world view because if the individual diminishes the importance of the action and is bound solely to thought it is impossible to see the ripples of the individual efforts. Maybe that's why more and more academics are more of the collectivist mindset due to lack of experience in the world of action.

Balance is key and tougher to achieve in a more and more compartmentalized and homogeneous society.

It is the way it is being pitched as of late is a distortion at best, at worst social engineering to to dissuade morality into a personal "what feels good thing and, dispatch old institutions quick and dirty and create chaos, but it does make you think in putting forward philosophical thoughts and challenging old adages.

The main place we should look for commonality is in a base morality that people inherently know is good not only respect and/or or tolerance but vigilance upon a common code as a whole to express individual and group potential freely with a backing of the basic wisdom that is derived, not from theological practices, man's law but our inherent morality as highlighted in concurrence by man's structure of accepted behaviour on a community level.

Casting too wide a berth for accepted behaviour in environments of established cultural and religious norms is a recipe for chaos and thus a blockade to the freedom these 'protests' that seek to shirk the authority structure in it's entirety. Perhaps by intent, perhaps by naivete, but it seems to go beyond the moderate progressive realm in which I had interpreted Ayn Rand's works.

But hey you gotta watch out for anything that Hollywood wants us and our children to roll up our sleeves for and take in. You can bet it will approach from a sensationalist and extreme brush to depict this angle of the objectivists' thought landscape.

I haven't seen the movie. Didn't even know it was out since I'm fairly insulated from certain streams of media, especially Hollywood. I'd hardly call this too Hollywood though based on a tiny audience reception at the April 15th opening and poor critical reviews. I had best check up on that horse that pulls the collective cart a tad more often to get a more in focus picture of where the reigns are headed though.

If you're up to getting it screened locally, discussion of the movie/book or to follow the film more closely, here are some avenues for you.

Official Site: http://www.AtlasShruggedPart1.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/AtlasShruggedMovie
Twitter: http://twitter.com/_AtlasShrugged
There are no others, there is only us.
http://FastTadpole.com/
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04-17-2011, 05:04 PM, (This post was last modified: 04-18-2011, 04:16 PM by SiLVa.)
#2
RE: Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand's Vision and Warning
I was just told about this movie version coming out by a friend of mine. I think I may check it out.
Looks like it hasn't been heavily promoted like other movies released right now. And according to this article I read about it, Hollywood wasn't really interested in bring out a movie version either.
I dont really see what the Tea Party has to do with this either but I guess that was their spin on it.

Quote:Atlas Shrugged: The Tea Party Movie?
April 13, 2011

Source: US News

Last year, on Tax Day, April 15, Tea Party activists stormed the National Mall, demanding that those on Capitol Hill listen to their cries for lower taxes and less spending. This Tax Day, after already gaining success at the polls in November and shifting the budget debate in their direction, maybe it's just time for a movie.

First-time filmmaker, John Aglialoro, has just the one. He's releasing Atlas Shrugged Part I, adapted from Ayn Rand's 1957 cult-classic novel of the same title, on Friday in limited theaters nationwide.

Tuesday night, the film premiered officially at Washington's Union Station, a fitting location, the producers say, for a movie whose heroine heads up a train company. The event was a "red carpet" affair, with a dollar-sign sculpted from ice as the evening's centerpiece. Guests at the premiere who hadn't yet seen the movie or read the book were likely asking themselves, "Who is John Galt?" The ubiquitous phrase from the novel was printed on napkins and servers' aprons throughout the event.

The 1,000 plus page novel has been considered required reading for libertarians and limited-government groups like FreedomWorks for years, and now many in the Tea Party movement have adopted its objectivist philosophy also. It has been named among the most influential books of all time. Surprisingly, however, the philosophy had nothing to do with the timing of the film, Aglialoro says, except maybe that Rand's controversial politics are what stopped it from being made until now.

Aglialoro got the novel's movie rights from the estate of Ayn Rand nearly 20 years ago. He says he hoped that a big studio would pick it up, but despite several attempts, he still couldn't convince studio executives to take the risk. Last June, when the rights were about to expire, he instead decided to make the film himself. "Finally, the rights were about to end, and I said, I gotta do it myself or not," he says. "It was my wife that said you better get out to Hollywood and get this thing done because it's going to haunt you for the rest of your life."

His co-producer, Harmon Kaslow, says that making the film was a lot like the main character Dagny Taggart's challenge in building the railroad in the film. "Every step of the way there was a problem," he says.

Aglialoro, who also co-wrote the screenplay, says that Rand's work was perfect for the big screen, and he tried to adapt faithfully from the book. "Ayn Rand wrote a very good novel. Forget philosophy. When you've got a love story with a hero, that's a good script. A chick flick with a hero? How can that miss?" he says.

Nevertheless, Rand's philosophy was at the heart of his struggle to produce the film. "You don't need altruism and selflessness, others over yourself. That's crazy. That's really dumb," he says. "What you need is each individual getting the best within themselves, finding something passionately that they can purposefully get involved in every day. By doing that they're helping themselves, and they're certainly helping society."

Aglialoro also says that Rand was "philosophically and politically balanced" and that more on the left should consider seeing the movie, since Rand's views on social issues like religion and abortion align more with liberals than with conservatives. "The fact was, Ayn Rand was very left," he says.

Executive producers Karen and Howard Baldwin say that Rand's novel and the film could act as a warning for the nation. "It's interesting that such a cautionary tale could be so relevant today," said Karen Baldwin.

Australian actor, Grant Bowler, who plays Hank Rearden, one of the film's protagonists, says working on it helped him understand more about what makes America special. "It's a novel that couldn't have existed and couldn't have been written anywhere else in the world," says Bowler. "For me it's deepened my understanding of what America is. The potential for this country is infinite."

http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/washington-whispers/2011/04/13/atlas-shrugged-the-tea-party-movie-
"Listen to everyone, read everything, believe nothing unless you can prove it in your own research"
~William Cooper

DTTNWO!
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04-18-2011, 12:08 AM,
#3
RE: Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand's Vision and Warning
"The potential for this country is infinite."

that's what Hirohito said
Reply
04-18-2011, 03:40 AM,
#4
RE: Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand's Vision and Warning
My biggest issue with Rand was that she repeated the same old elitist idea that if a resource is in the territory of 'backward' people, it is ok to take, by force if necessary, those resources because the more 'advanced' peoples have a better use for them.
Reply
05-07-2011, 11:16 AM,
#5
RE: Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand's Vision and Warning
(04-18-2011, 03:40 AM)R.R Wrote: My biggest issue with Rand was that she repeated the same old elitist idea that if a resource is in the territory of 'backward' people, it is ok to take, by force if necessary, those resources because the more 'advanced' peoples have a better use for them.

Yeah it's like half the things she said were enlightening and the other half were bat shit crazy/Nazi like. She also said she supported Israel. I like the critique that the one dude wrote posted in the white section. He's got it figured out in my opinion
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