I would not have continued on with the objectivist argument had a good friend of mine, whose opinions I respect considerably, not challenged me on my opinions. I could go on all day about it, but it turns out I don’t really have to. Objectivism is single-rooted, so all that is required is to challenge the validity of the one root—and objectivism’s self-inconsistent relationship to that root—and the whole thing falls.
All double-quoted text is from Ms Rand herself, from a Playboy interview in 1964.
“It begins with the axiom that existence exists, which means that an objective reality exists independent of any perceiver or of the perceiver’s emotions, feelings, wishes, hopes or fears. Objectivism holds that reason is man’s only means of perceiving reality and his only guide to action. By reason, I mean the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses.”
She starts with an axiom? An axiom, in a proof, is something that you take to be true without question. The Rational Apologist is asking us to make a leap of faith. Irony?
She goes on to say that the only perception we have is the rational mind, but then admits we obtain information through our senses, not through our rational faculties. Which is it? If we are beholden to our senses, and in fact trapped by them, how can we know, one way or the other, if there exists an objective reality outside our senses? And if so, what worlds exist that our senses cannot detect? Does ‘green’ exist for the colorblind? Is infrared pretty?
Then, when asked about religion and its constructive value: “Qua religion, no — in the sense of blind belief, belief unsupported by, or contrary to, the facts of reality and the conclusions of reason. Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason. But you must remember that religion is an early form of philosophy, that the first attempts to explain the universe, to give a coherent frame of reference to man’s life and a code of moral values, were made by religion, before men graduated or developed enough to have philosophy. And, as philosophies, some religions have very valuable moral points. They may have a good influence or proper principles to inculcate, but in a very contradictory context and, on a very — how should I say it? — dangerous or malevolent base: on the ground of faith. ”
Ummm…her own axiom. Hello. But she says, quite absolutely, that she doesn’t believe in God. Contradiction. In any closed system, axioms ARE god.
And,arguably, religions are LATER forms of philosophy, not earlier ones. I don’t slight her on that one; the concept of memes and their propagational viabiility did not exist in 1964.
“PLAYBOY: Can’t Objectivism, then, be called a dogma?
RAND: No. A dogma is a set of beliefs accepted on faith; that is, without rational justification or against rational evidence. A dogma is a matter of blind faith. Objectivism is the exact opposite. Objectivism tells you that you must not accept any idea or conviction unless you can demonstrate its truth by means of reason. ”
Prove an axiom. Any axiom. And I will take it all back.
My friend Vince, when I described Objectivism to him, showed him the Rand Playboy interview:
Vince: My problem with it is, that I actually prefer to think for myself, and prefer to take responsibility for myself Jeff: well, objectivism supposedly advocates being reponsible to the self. Vince: perhaps to the self, but doesn’t sound like FOR the self.. there is a difference