Just a Couple of Quibbles

With the current popularity of Ayn Rand, it becomes worth taking a look at her again–even by those of us who find her beliefs rancid. Normally, I don’t need to taste old butter to know that it is bad… the smell is enough. The same is true with Rand. Yet so many people are gorging themselves on her unpleasant products that it is worth trying to understand why (which I am attempting through one of my current projects) and also to warn people away. Many others have noticed the distinct and noxious odors coming from her work and have commented upon them. So what I am pointing out isn’t new. But, like the questioning of the authorship of Shakespeare’s work, Rand just doesn’t seem to disappear, no matter how foolish her ideas are made to look.

A 1959 interview with Rand conducted by Mike Wallace has recently been making the rounds of the blogosphere. Here it is:

I just want to point out two small problems with what Rand says.

First, though she liked to present an image of care with words and thought, Rand speaks of humans as being “endowed.”  For an atheist (and she was one) that’s a bit problematic: some being or other has to do the endowing.

Second, Rand believes in an “objective” reality that humans can fully perceive. Yet the limitations of our sense are well established, as are the boundaries of our thinking (check out the work of Kurt Godel). Only the arrogance of preening ego can ignore the actuality of our incomplete understandings.