March 6, 2011

On whose shoulders stands Atlas

Andrew Reichart:

[Ayn] Rand’s philosophy rests on a pretense of individualism that doesn’t reflect reality. The “self-made man” is a myth; everyone’s success is built upon the labors of those who went before them and those who labor alongside them. Whatever success we may bring upon ourselves, we have done so with the assistance of those who invented our language, our culture, our monetary systems, our infrastructure, etc. Though we may hire and direct employees to do our bidding, and though that bidding may be directed entirely by our personal vision, our success is still utterly dependent upon the existence and the effectiveness of those employees. And our “personal vision,” as any psychologist can explain, is primarily a result of genetic and environmental factors which we did not create. The “individual” as Rand conceives it is largely a myth.

(His follow-up: “I frickin’ hate the ‘black box’ psychological model presented by folks who still somehow think that humans are ‘rational.’ Capable of using reason as a tool, yeah, but even so there is no ‘objective’ motivation behind the user. We’ve known better since Freud 1905 or at latest WWI, hellooooo?”)


  1. Written exactly like someone who doesn’t understand Rand at all, or who choses not to understand her.

    Rand has numerous flaws in her ideas, but this isn’t one of them. In fact, this particular claim is one she specifically tears into bloody bits in her writing, and very effectively at that. Trying to attack her from a point of strength is either a play to appeal to those who haven’t read her books but would like to hate her anyway, or misses the point totally. Or both.

    BTW, one of the best parts of Rand is that, just when you really want to hate her, just when you want to claim “but who would actually say anything that transparently stupid, and indeed, who would believe that argument”, her enemies appear and speak exactly like bad guys in her fiction, almost word for word. Who needs Ellsworth Toohey when you have reality.

  2. Broadly speaking, what would Rand’s counterargument be?

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