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Ayn Rand on Human Nature

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"Rand" by Nathaniel Gold

"Rand" by Nathaniel Gold

“Every political philosophy has to begin with a theory of human nature,” wrote Harvard evolutionary biologist Richard Lewontin in his book Biology as Ideology. Thomas Hobbes, for example, believed that humans in a “state of nature,” or what today we would call hunter-gatherer societies, lived a life that was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” in which there existed a “warre of all against all.” This led him to conclude, as many apologists for dictatorship have since, that a stable society required a single leader in order to control the rapacious violence that was inherent to human nature. Building off of this, advocates of state communism, such as Vladimir Lenin or Josef Stalin, believed that each of us was born tabula rasa, with a blank slate, and that human nature could be molded in the interests of those in power.

Ever since Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand has been gaining prominence among American conservatives as the leading voice for the political philosophy of laissez-faire capitalism, or the idea that private business should be unconstrained and that government’s only concern should be protecting individual property rights. As I wrote this week in Slate with my piece “Ayn Rand vs. the Pygmies,” the Russian-born author believed that rational selfishness was the ultimate expression of human nature.

"One person can’t hold up the whole world alone" by Nathaniel Gold

"One person can’t hold up the whole world alone" by Nathaniel Gold. Image courtesy of Slate/Nathaniel Gold.

“Collectivism,” Rand wrote in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal “is the tribal premise of primordial savages who, unable to conceive of individual rights, believed that the tribe is a supreme, omnipotent ruler, that it owns the lives of its members and may sacrifice them whenever it pleases.” An objective understanding of “man’s nature and man’s relationship to existence” should inoculate society from the disease of altruistic morality and economic redistribution. Therefore, “one must begin by identifying man’s nature, i.e., those essential characteristics which distinguish him from all other living species.”

As Rand further detailed in her book The Virtue of Selfishness, moral values are “genetically dependent” on the way “living entities exist and function.” Because each individual organism is primarily concerned with its own life, she therefore concludes that selfishness is the correct moral value of life. “Its life is the standard of value directing its actions,” Rand wrote, “it acts automatically to further its life and cannot act for its own destruction.” Because of this Rand insists altruism is a pernicious lie that is directly contrary to biological reality. Therefore, the only way to build a good society was to allow human nature, like capitalism, to remain unfettered by the meddling of a false ideology.

“Altruism is incompatible with freedom, with capitalism and with individual rights,” she continued. “One cannot combine the pursuit of happiness with the moral status of a sacrificial animal.” She concludes that this conflict between human nature and the “irrational morality” of altruism is a lethal tension that tears society apart. Her mission was to free humanity from this conflict. Like Marx, she believed that her correct interpretation of how society should be organized would be the ultimate expression of human freedom.

As I demonstrated in my Slate piece, Ayn Rand was wrong about altruism. But how she arrived at this conclusion is revealing both because it shows her thought process and offers a warning to those who would construct their own political philosophy on the back of an assumed human nature. Ironically, given her strong opposition to monarchy and state communism, Rand based her interpretation of human nature on the same premises as these previous systems while adding a crude evolutionary argument in order to connect them.

Rand assumed, as Hobbes did, that without a centralized authority human life would erupt into a chaos of violence. “Warfare–permanent warfare—is the hallmark of tribal existence,” she wrote in The Return of the Primitive. “Tribes subsist on the edge of starvation, at the mercy of natural disasters, less successfully than herds of animals.” This, she reasoned, is why altruism is so pervasive among indigenous societies; prehistoric groups needed the tribe for protection. She argued that altruism is perpetuated as an ideal among the poor in modern societies for the same reason.

“It is only the inferior men that have collective instincts—because they need them,” Rand wrote in a journal entry dated February 22, 1937. This kind of primitive altruism doesn’t exist in “superior men,” Rand continued, because social instincts serve merely as “the weapon and protection of the inferior.” She later expands on this idea by stating, “We may still be in evolution, as a species, and living side by side with some ‘missing links.’”

Rand’s view that social instincts only exist among “inferior men” should not be dismissed as something she unthinkingly jotted down in a private journal. In two of her subsequent books—For the New Intellectual and Philosophy: Who Needs It?, where it even serves as a chapter heading—Rand quips that scientists may find the “missing link” between humans and animals in those people who fail to utilize their rational selfishness to its full potential. How then does Rand explain the persistence of altruistic morality if human nature is ultimately selfish? By invoking the tabula rasa as an integral feature of human nature in which individuals can advance from inferior to superior upwards along the chain of life.

“Man is born tabula rasa,” Rand wrote in her Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, “all his knowledge is based on and derived from the evidence of his senses. To reach the distinctively human level of cognition, man must conceptualize his perceptual data” (by which she means using logical deductions). This was her solution to the problem of prosocial behavior and altruism among hunter-gatherer societies.

“For instance, when discussing the social instinct—does it matter whether it had existed in the early savages?” Rand asks in her journal on May 9, 1934. “Supposing men were born social (and even that is a question)—does it mean that they have to remain so? If man started as a social animal—isn’t all progress and civilization directed toward making him an individual? Isn’t that the only possible progress? If men are the highest of animals, isn’t man the next step?” Nearly a decade later, on September 6, 1943, she wrote, “The process here, in effect, is this: man is raw material when he is born; nature tells him: ‘Go ahead, create yourself. You can become the lord of existence—if you wish—by understanding your own nature and by acting upon it. Or you can destroy yourself. The choice is yours.’”

While Rand states in Philosophy: Who Needs It? that “I am not a student of the theory of evolution and, therefore, I am neither its supporter nor its opponent,” she immediately goes on to make claims about how evolution functions. “After aeons of physiological development, the evolutionary process altered its course, and the higher stages of development focused primarily on the consciousness of living species, not their bodies” (italics mine). Rand further expands on her (incorrect) views about evolution in her journal.

“It is precisely by observing nature that we discover that a living organism endowed with an attribute higher and more complex than the attributes possessed by the organisms below him in nature’s scale shares many functions with these lower organisms. But these functions are modified by his higher attribute and adapted to its function—not the other way around” (italics mine). – Journals of Ayn Rand, July 30, 1945.

One would have to go back to the 18th century (and Aristotle before that) to find a similar interpretation of nature. This concept of “the great chain of being,” brilliantly discussed by the historian Arthur Lovejoy, was the belief that a strict hierarchy exists in the natural world and species advance up nature’s scale as they get closer to God. This is an odd philosophy of nature for an avowed atheist, to say the least, and reflects Rand’s profound misunderstanding of the natural world.

To summarize, then, Rand believed in progressive evolutionary change up the ladder of nature from primitive to advanced. At the “higher stages” of this process (meaning humans) evolution changed course so that members of our species were born with a blank slate, though she provides no evidence to support this. Human beings therefore have no innate “social instincts”–elsewhere she refers to it as a “herd-instinct”–that is, except for “primordial savages” and “inferior men” who could be considered missing links in the scale of nature. Never mind that these two groups are still technically human in her view. Selfishness is the ideal moral value because “superior men” are, by definition, higher up the scale of being.

Logic was essential to Ayn Rand’s political philosophy. “A contradiction cannot exist,” she has John Galt state in Atlas Shrugged. “To arrive at a contradiction is to confess an error in one’s thinking; to maintain a contradiction is to abdicate one’s mind and to evict oneself from the realm of reality.” I couldn’t agree more. However, Rand may have had more personal reasons for her philosophy that can help explain her tortured logic. As she was first developing her political philosophy she mused in her journal about how she arrived at her conclusion that selfishness was a natural moral virtue.

“It may be considered strange, and denying my own supremacy of reason, that I start with a set of ideas, then want to study in order to support them, and not vice versa, i.e., not study and derive my ideas from that. But these ideas, to a great extent, are the result of a subconscious instinct, which is a form of unrealized reason. All instincts are reason, essentially, or reason is instincts made conscious. The “unreasonable” instincts are diseased ones.” – Journals of Ayn Rand, May 15, 1934.

This can indeed be considered strange. Looking deep within yourself and concluding that your feelings are natural instincts that apply for the entire species isn’t exactly what you would call objective. It is, in fact, the exact opposite of how science operates. However, she continues and illuminates her personal motivations for her ideas.

“Some day I’ll find out whether I’m an unusual specimen of humanity in that my instincts and reason are so inseparably one, with the reason ruling the instincts. Am I unusual or merely normal and healthy? Am I trying to impose my own peculiarities as a philosophical system? Am I unusually intelligent or merely unusually honest? I think this last. Unless—honesty is also a form of superior intelligence.”

Through a close reading of her fictional characters, and other entries in her journal, it appears that Rand had an intuitive sense that selfishness was natural because that’s how she saw the world. As John Galt said in his final climactic speech, “Since childhood, you have been hiding the guilty secret that you feel no desire to be
moral, no desire to seek self-immolation, that you dread and hate your code, but dare not say it even to yourself, that you’re devoid of those moral ‘instincts’ which others profess to feel.”

In Rand’s notes for an earlier, unpublished story she expresses nearly identical sentiments for the main character. “He [Danny Renahan] is born with,” she writes, “the absolute lack of social instinct or herd feeling.”

“He does not understand, because he has no organ for understanding, the necessity, meaning or importance of other people. (One instance when it is blessed not to have an organ of understanding.) Other people do not exist for him and he does not understand why they should. He knows himself—and that is enough. Other people have no right, no hold, no interest or influence on him. And this is not affected or chosen—it’s inborn, absolute, it can’t be changed, he has ‘no organ’ to be otherwise. In this respect, he has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel ‘other people.’ (That’s what I meant by thoughts as feelings, as part of your nature.) (It is wisdom to be dumb about certain things.)”

I believe a strong case could be made that Ayn Rand was projecting her own sense of reality into the mind’s of her fictional protagonists. Does this mean that Rand was a sociopath? Diagnosing people in the past with modern understandings of science has many limitations (testing your hypothesis being chief among them). However, I think it’s clear that Ayn Rand did not have a strongly developed sense of empathy but did have a very high opinion of herself. When seen through this perspective, Rand’s philosophy of “Objectivism” and her belief in “the virtue of selfishness” look very different from how she presented it in her work. When someone’s theory of human nature is based on a sample size of 1 it raises doubts about just how objective they really were.

Update: A point that has been brought up repeatedly is that Ayn Rand used a different definition of altruism than what is standard in biology and so therefore what I wrote is invalid. This is incorrect. To clear up any confusion, Ayn Rand relied on Auguste Comte’s definition from his Catéchisme Positiviste (1852) where he advocates “l’altruisme sur l’égoïsme” (altruism over egoism) because, he writes, “vivre pour autrui fournit le seul moyen de développer librement toute l’existence humaine” (to live for others provides the only means to develop freely throughout human existence). The biological definition of altruism is not only consistent with Comte, it subsumes his definition and makes it testable and, one would think, more objective.

Eric Michael Johnson About the Author: Eric Michael Johnson has a Master's degree in Evolutionary Anthropology focusing on great ape behavioral ecology. He is currently a doctoral student in the history of science at University of British Columbia looking at the interplay between evolutionary biology and politics.

Follow his work on Facebook and Google+. Follow on Twitter @primatediaries.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. iskeen 10:00 am 10/5/2012

    The author says that he “demonstrated that Ayn Rand was wrong about altruism.” He did no such thing. He has taken a laundry list of remarks and writings out of context and constructed a straw man. Why? Altruism is the morality of sacrifice. Sacrifice is what cannibals do before they eat you. Beware. I had a 20 year subscription to SA which I cancelled when I realized about 5 years ago, that the cannibals have taken over science.

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  2. 2. jp_in_nj 10:27 am 10/5/2012

    Two things:

    If you look at the terminus of a branch of a species as the “highest evolutionary point”, then Rand may have been right; the highest evolutionary point that the sociopathic branch of humanity can reach is the point where everyone is entirely motivated by self-interest. But that’s a self-contained argument; the highest evolutionary point that any species can reach is the point at which it stops evolving. It doesn’t mean that the rest of the species can’t continue to evolve, and they will.

    iskeen, in conflating self-sacrifice with murder, you’re constructing your own straw man, in much the same way that I’d be doing if I said that conservatism is the morality of conserving; treehuggers must be conservatives. Same word, different meanings. I can provide a link to an online dictionary if you’d like.

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  3. 3. TTLG 10:50 am 10/5/2012

    Essentially, a philosophy is a scientific hypothesis that the philosopher has not gone to the trouble of actually checking using the scientific method. Hence the constant use of words like “believe” when talking about their ideas. Since the scientific evidence pretty well demonstrates that neither Rand and Hobbes knew what they were talking about, it is no surprise that the anti-science types are the one who embrace them.

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  4. 4. RSchmidt 12:03 pm 10/5/2012

    Saying that markets should be left to run amok because that is how nature does it is nothing more than a naturalist fallacy. The fact that a right wing fanatic would build their ideology on fallacy is nothing new. As Bruce Cockburn put it, it is the “idolatry of ideology”. I find it depressing that in the age of reason our political candidates choose economical policy based on which ideology it appeals to instead of the evidence of how it solves particular social and economic challenges. It is true that competition spurs innovation and lowers prices, but who thinks that a child should have to compete for access to food, clothing, shelter, education, medicine and legal status? Only those obsessed with right wing ideology think that that particular tool should be used to solve every socio-economic problem. As with nearly everything having to do with people, the truth lies somewhere between the extremes. Sure we need competition to drive the economy, but we also need regulation to ensure there is competition and we need to ensure a basic quality of life for all humanity. If the past four years have taught us anything is that nothing gets done when the people blindly and stubbornly adhere to ideological extremism. It is time to stop thinking about economic policy as though it were religion and see it as it truly is, a set of tools, and then apply the best tool to the task at hand. It is either that or split the US up on ideological boundaries because the US is currently dysfunctional and something has to give.

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  5. 5. Acoyauh2 12:29 pm 10/5/2012

    I like Rand as a novelist, especially liked The Source. However, I think of her as a self-absorbed and obviously pretty selfish artistic type and grossly overrated. Taking her as anything close to a serious political thinker is ludicrous. But then again, ludicrous is business as usual for too many Americans…

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  6. 6. tucanofulano 3:36 pm 10/5/2012

    Anyone even remotely connected with Harvard is suspect as to honesty as well as academic integrity; given a choice between ‘anyone harvardized’ and Rand it’s obvious Rand wins every time.

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  7. 7. jerryd 5:55 pm 10/5/2012

    Sorry but honesty is not a Rand trait. She is self delusional and her ideas are basically that of a sociopath, one devoid of caring for others.

    One only has to look around to see just how people will do, believe anything to belong to the group of which religion is a prime example.

    While I agree that the elite/big business/those in power keep progress, new ideas, people down but it’s because of those that she champions, the sociopaths/leaders in charge especially in business.

    As an actual creator of new things in RE, EV’s, fast boats I’ve found this is the main force stopping progress.

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  8. 8. sparrowhawk 6:05 pm 10/5/2012

    Thanks for this. Have just scanned it for the moment, but this article seems to be another scurrilous attempt to “Nazify” Rand. Which reveals the author’s utter ignorance of the nature of Nazism, which was not about “supermen” crushing their “inferiors.” It was, in a sense, a collectivist system in which the man with the lowest and most fragile sense of himself in the huddled mass of similarly selfless men became the Führer. An individual with genuine self-esteem doesn’t base his self-value on anyone else’s estimate of him; a Hitler or Stalin or Mao derives his sense of self-worth on the number of men who are dependent on their own self-worth on his appraisal of them as idol-worshippers. A dictator is the slave of the men he presumes to rule. (See The Fountainhead and study the character of Gail Wynand.) It’s interesting that Johnson bases much of his critique of Rand on her early explorations of philosophy, ethics, and the nature of man, explorations not fully developed, not fully understood, and partly based on the best of the received wisdom of her time, partly on a ruthless introspection of who she was and why she acted.

    But I have observed that articles about Rand such as Johnson’s invariably end with a wisecrack or two that reveal that his core purpose was not really to understand Rand but to smear her. His last paragraph blows the rest of his analysis out of the water.

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  9. 9. John W. Bales 6:24 pm 10/5/2012

    While one might study the development of a philosopher’s thinking by reading their private notes and journals, one should look to their published work when making points about their explicit philosophy. Johnson puts together a mishmash of Rand’s early notes to herself with her much later published works in spite of the fact that she publicly disavowed much of her earlier thinking that had been influenced by Nietzsche.

    There is no mystery about Rand’s use of the term ‘selfishness.’ She explained her use of the word in unequivocal terms in “The Virtue of Selfishness.” Ayn Rand did not believe that men are innately selfish. In fact, it was her great achievement that she reasoned out the virtues that selfishness requires. These include rationality, productiveness, pride, independence, integrity, honesty and justice. Altruists believe that it is in man’s self-interest to lie, cheat, steal and coerce values from others. When they hear Rand extolling selfishness this is what they think she means. Rand denied that such acts are in anyone’s self-interest. She argued that self-interest requires the seven virtues she promoted and others implied by those seven.

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  10. 10. CassandrasPlan 3:20 pm 10/6/2012

    After many highly questionable articles published under the “Scientific American” name, this is the point at which you all became tools. This sloppy mass of “thinking” was created for the sole purpose of attempting to discredit non-liberals who respect Rand’s ideas by discrediting Rand herself, people who had at any point respected those ideas but who have since been scapegoated and, by extension, those ideas, but without the uncomfortable effort of attempting a logical refutation. There are a multitude of untrue statements, fallacies, and wild conjectures that would have been laughed out of a high school science class back when I was in school.

    Take, for instance, the assertion (in his Slate article, but referred to and linked from this) that Rand was wrong about altruism …. which the author feels comfortable saying because he defines altruism in its contemporary sense, “extra-familial generosity”, rather than its original meaning as coined by Auguste Comte, which Rand on many occasions said that she intended when using the term (a fact that could not have been missed by an author who clearly read Rand’s writing extensively although, perhaps, selectively). This is not the only place in the article in which the author uses contemporary or repackaged meanings for the sole purpose of demonstrating Rand’s errors. The core of the man’s article, and they’re intentional fabrications.

    And this is just one technique he uses. They’re not hard to see. So what was the purpose in writing an article like this, at a time like this, to be used by every Koz Kid and Slate fan more comfortable with having contempt for people than logically discussing ideas? What was Scientific American’s intent when providing the platform and veneer of credibility?

    Political tools, gentleman. That’s your new mantle. Wear it with shame.

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  11. 11. The Ultimate Philosopher 7:55 pm 10/6/2012

    This is a considerably more competent treatment of Ayn Rand’s ideas than most of what has shown up on the web lately, but unfortunately that’s not saying a whole lot. There are a couple problems here as to whether you’ve correctly portrayed her ideas: (1) You rely rather heavily on journal entries (not intended for publication) which should be taken as evidence of her intellectual development over the years (which is intriguing, yes, … ) and nothing more. For evidence of her mature viewpoint, you should be relying quite exclusively on her writings from the Atlas Shurgged period onward. (2) It helps little when trying to understand Rand’s views on selfishness and altruism not to specify what she meant by these terms. The online Ayn Rand Lexicon is there are a resource for this. Rand could be charged with mis-using these terms or using them in unconventional senses, but that’s a different matter from what the substantive content of her views really are.

    Now, it is a central issue to understanding a philosopher’s viewpoint what that thinker’s ideas about human nature are; this latter we could refer to as the subject of “philosophical psychology.” Again the AR Lexicon provides useful leads here. In a capsule summary of her philosophy, she says that her philosophy is, “in essence, the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.” The heroic-being part has precedents in Aristotle and Nietzsche’s views about what is noble in human beings; the happiness-as-moral-purpose idea has its precedents, again, in Aristotelian eudaimonism; the “reason as his only absolute” arguably has precedents all over the history of philosophy given the philosophers’ “bias” toward using one’s reason to the best of one’s abilities as a central guiding principle of human living. She states explicitly about rationality (see the Lexicon) that it is the primary virtue in human beings which explains all other human virtues. She said specifically about emotions that they are most certainly not to be ignored, but that (a) emotions are not viewed by her as “tools of cognition” – although this is conditioned by her statements concerning “psycho-epistemology,” or the study of human consciousness from the standpoint of the relationship between the volitional operations of consciousness and the automatic or automatized operations of the subconscious.” (b) This is to say that emotions are not in themselves barometers of truth but rather an effect of content stored in the subconscious which may or may not be true on the whole, and that the ultimate arbiter in matters of truth is reason. In this she isn’t particularly unique or out of line from the rest of much mainstream philosophical tradition.

    Moreover, the idea that Rand eschewed empathy – whether that is supposedly based on her rejection of the primacy of emotions, or anything else she has written – is not in fact supported by anything she has written, aside from early philosophically-confused journal entries. It really is nothing short of being a baseless charge that is often used to smear her in the most dishonorable of ways.

    Neither would Rand have used primitive human conditions or behaviors as guides to how to live life in contemporary human society. True enough; our genetic makeup has changed very little since that time. At the same time, there has been all kinds of evidence of progress in human affairs since then, leading to modern concepts of government, science, self-actualization, and so forth. Rand adapted a basically Aristotelian conception of human nature to the modern age; this means such things as constitutional rights and liberties, freedom of thought in intellectual domains, a recognition of the realities of industrial civilization and the advances in living standards (and, simultaneously, population figures) that such civilization makes possible, the discoveries and formulations of modern humanistic psychology, and so on. It may well be true that individualism wasn’t a big thing in prehistoric times; by the same token Rand would say “too bad for prehistoric life” and that individualism is a result of human progress. This is not in any way an endorsement of *anti-social* individualism (which Rand’s “surprisingly” is not) any more than the recognition of sociality and community (along neo-Aristotelian lines) doesn’t imply a negation of individualist values. As Rand implied in her subtitle to ‘The Virtue of Selfishness,’ she offered a *new concept of egoism* which differed from historical precedents going by that label.

    You might also look into the work her former associate Nathaniel Branden did in years following 1968 for an indepth presentation of basically Randian views as applied to matters of human nature and psychology. In fact, his 1969 work, ‘The Psychology of Self-Esteem,’ consists mostly verbatim of material he produced for Rand’s publication ‘The Objectivist.’ There’s all kinds of discussions of human psychological nature in there, including the healthy role of emotions and sociality. Leonard Peikoff’s later work such as ‘Understanding Objectivism’ (1983 lectures recently transcribed into book form) addresses the proper integration of reason and emotion; there is also the chapter titled “Man” in his book ‘Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand,’ based on a lecture course given in 1976 with Rand’s full endorsement. More recently there is Tara Smith’s ‘Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist,’ an academic book published by Cambridge Press, which is the most extensive and detailed analysis of her ideas of virtue yet written. This literature is out there and it’s important that it be acknowledged in any responsible and comprehensive study of Rand’s thought.

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  12. 12. Henry Solomon 9:35 pm 10/9/2012

    An honest intellectual analysis of Ayn Rand’s ideas cannot be done by selecting ideas written in a personal journal, prior to the publication of her major works, and non-fiction writings. The writer of the article is not doing an objective analysis. He is seeking some clues into her personal motivations from her journals and then presuming to criticize from her journals, without consideration for her final published writings, where she explains her philosophy with great clarity and precision. As another poster has already said this is setting up a straw man argument. As I understand it, Ayn Rand wrote her journals as a methodology of developing her ideas. Some ideas she rejected, as in her rejection of Nietzsche, others were not fully developed at that time. The fact that her journals were published was not to represent them as her approved views. Their publication was for the benefit of scholars who, it was thought, would want to understand the development of her thought, not for the purpose of opening them up to criticism of her philosophic system. In my view an honest intellectual assessment of her philosophy can be done only on the basis of her final published views, and not on the basis of presumed personal motivations. An intellectual is entitled to nothing less than that. Any honest interest in her personal motivations should not be of concern until an objective analysis of her ideas has been completed. Regarding her views on the science of evolution, I believe her view was that she had not studied the subject, and so, did not know whether this particular analysis was correct, but, that is not to say, that she did not believe that there was some process of evolution taking place.

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  13. 13. leovaz59 7:47 pm 01/23/2013

    I know sometimes we say things we don’t mean, is a thinking process, is about looking for the worst and hoping for the best, it happens to the best of us, but in her case she pretty much leis it all down as she felt it from her own thoughts a new understanding of communism would have made the difference in her opinion of it, communism could be contained in small groups if they are all altruistic add selfishness to the mix group and disaster is bound to happen, conflicting feelings just don’t mix, having said that let me tell you that Vladimir Lenin should not be in the same breath with Joseph Stalin, Lenin was an altruistic, idealistic person, unprepared to deal with people like Stalin who was a selfish, opportunistic power hungry, megalomaniac a hunter gatherer, the facts seem to point that there are two types of people altruistic and selfish, just like the example of the chimpanzee and the bonobo two similar looking creatures but each comes with different traits the chimp is aggressive and the bonobo altruistic, this two conditions are not exclusive to humans, check out chimp and bonobo they are related to us, other then that she was smart but sound like a nut.

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  14. 14. charlesfinney349 11:51 am 05/15/2013

    Your understanding of Rand’s philosophy is in catastrophic error. You quoted plenty of excerpts but at no point did you capture the core of her ideas. And this is because you didn’t identify the beginning of her thoughts . . . which is mystifying because they are not hard to find.

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