Ayn Rand's philosophy on objectivism
Ayn Rand is a Russian born scholar, who experienced communism as she grew up, Ayn had a first hand experience of the negative side of communism as she was raised by a middle class family that provided for her and gave her a good education. When communism came she saw her family suffer under this regime, it is for this reason that she began exploring with the idea of an ideal man who lives to fulfill his true potential (Hudgins, 2006).
It was for these facts that she began her theory of objectivism. She based her ideas on the premise that reality is objective and absolute. Her view of man's mind was competent enough to acquire objectively knowledge of all that exists. Her moral theory on man is based on the notion that the self interest of man is based on his nature as a rational being; this theory recognizes man as a thinking being and his rights to act according to his free will. This moral theory also recognizes the fact that a man is at his best potential if he is in the context of his circumstances.
It is on this principle that she based her notion of the division of the political and economic powers. This notion advocates that the government should have no favors in the economy; therefore the purpose of the government is the protection of the rights of the man through the use of force only in the event of a situation where force has been used on the man (Bernstein, 29).
In her opinion capitalism is therefore the resulting economic system that is based on the realization of individual rights, as well as property rights which are privately owned. To Rand's capitalism is as a moral system is a laissez faire system (Heffer, 30).
Her objectivity philosophy was well received by college students in the '50s, who were mainly attracted to her ideas of listening to one's self the maximization of the superman potential without considering the social factors. Her objectivity philosophy based on the absolute objectiveness of reality greatly appealed to these young students. The fact that they were able to associate with a philosophy that could easily embrace their ideologies was sp appealing to them. the thought of their actions being based on their objectivity and not on the social interest spelt freedom to them, freedom from the social norms that held them back from their dreams. This to them was real since they could easily embrace the idea of the perception of reality in order to survive, the fact that they were able to reason, and that the philosophy appreciated this in them greatly attracted them to it.
Ayn Rand's ideas are portrayed in her works which are published, she has written books and papers on her themes that have been reviewed and used in time, and which still enjoy the glory of reviews. One of her most publicized works was the book 'Fountainhead', in this book there are two characters and attitudes that conflict that are in constant battle with each other and make up the story. The first is represented by Howard Roark who is an independent artist and the leading role in the story and a man called Henry Cameron who had values like Howard's but he abandoned his believes. Peter Keating takes credit for Roark's work and who is more concerned of what others think that of what he believes in. Ellsworth is similar to peter; he depends on Roark but does not seek power like Keating in a career but seeks power in the destruction of others. Gail Wynand is an industrialist who has the industrial power and uses it in the destruction of others, while Dominic Francon is a character that is experiencing inner conflict and the believe in strength and power or the collision of power and honesty.
This story is centered on Howard who has morality and determination and the opposition others have to him.
This paper seeks to discuss the aspects and situations that arise in the book as revealed by Ayn and how they relate to the individualism and capitalist and how they apply in life. This paper further discusses the various oppositions and supports that Ayn received for her theory in the consideration of the life of the American and the freedoms they have enjoyed.
Although Ayn Rand's viewpoint of capitalism and individual rights was harshly criticized by many experts during her life time, other professionals in various fields today consider her ideas as a way to ensure the freedom that all Americans have historically enjoyed.
The cultural impact of her work began in 1943 with the fountainhead this was because she greatly differed with others at the time on the RIGHT. She used the character Howard in the book to present her ideas to the reading, by using a novel in stead of a book her ideas proved to be powerful. She used Howard to show that individualism in the soul creates joy in life even when success is not being achieved. She used Keating who is the anti-hero to show that the idea of putting other's needs first does not produce contentment as we are promised by religion, but creates in us an emptiness and self hatred. This aspect of Keating can be seen in the book by the following episodes and actions in his life.
Keating is seen abandoning his dreams as a painter to become an architect since his mother told him so. Keating is seen abandoning his true love Catherine for Dominique since the social status of Dominique impresses other people. Keating copies architectural designs or asks Howard to design for him. The fact that Keating relied heavily on the ideas and suggestions of others, made him unhappy in his success and wealth. The reason for his unhappiness was the fact that he could not stand on his two feet without seeking assistance from others even in love. His obsession with his success and the view of others is seen as he tries to get Roark to admit he is more successful, the failure of Roark to do this, made Keating to rationalize himself as superior and comforted himself that the public believed so too. Keating's competition with Howard brought about his downfall especially after the loss of a court case to Howard, where Howard was seen as the best architect, and the public's realization of the truth, that at the end Howard was the best and architect, and the revealing of Keating's fraudulent dealings.
Of interest is the depiction of individualism through Howard, he was a go getter, a man confident of himself. He was a good architect too, a man who helped out Keating in his designs, he was sure of himself as, as much as Keating tried to convince him to honor him as a great architect, he refused. While Keating was a mean and a user of persons, he used Howard to deign for him and he even told Catherine, "You see, Katie, you don't know me. I'm the kind that uses people. I don't want to use you."
Keating is reveled as a socialist by Ayn; she depicts a character that is dependent on the society and not in himself and an individual. The aspects portrayed here showed Ayn's support of individualism, as clearly depicted in Howard's character. He showed individualism by being a strong and independent character, he was not influenced by the society or by anyone around him, he was confident in his abilities. He was not threatened by Keating's success though he constantly helped him in designing.
Ayn defended individualism and its benefits in the character and success of Howard; she showed the negative effects of socialism using Keating's experience, Dominique's self esteem. Ayn defended capitalism by basing it on the morale of personal freedom. These personal freedoms were based on the individual rights to life, autonomy and property that were based on the founding father's ideas. She uniquely depicted the enlightenment philosophy of individual rights that were not based on religion. Ayn was able to integrate rationality, political freedom, capitalism, self interest and comprehension into the secular world. She saw America as a land that was supportive of the free man, and the support of the individual rights, she was a greatest supporter of capitalism as she had experienced communism back home. Her work though noble did not go without critics in the day (Bellah et al, 70).
Rand and her objectivity theory was subject from criticism from the word go, most scholars and philosophers in the day were against her work because she openly denounced academic philosophers openly, and that she opted to practice her ideas in fiction rather in publications. They believed the reason was that she felt her work could not stand up to proper scrutiny from trained thinkers and that her criticism of the philosophers made her not to pay attention to them.
At the time they criticized her work for being based on her personal life and her cultural experience. This meant that the fact that her father's shop in the Soviet Union was naturalized caused her to support laissez faire. They used the characters in her books to criticize her ideas. The fact that she used a dominant female figure that adjudicated a leading male and ended up having relations with him, this they compared to her own personal life, where she had an affair with her editor though she was still married (Burns, 70).
They scrutinized her theory of objectivism as a way of giving a person too much freedom. By allowing the individual rights to be free the leadership was going to loose control. Her theory was going to be against the collectiveness approach, for the collectiveness approach supported social ways of doing things. The believe that there was no equitability of resources was a gone case to them in the event that objectivity was adopted. They saw this theory as a platform for the loss of power over the masses and resources. The collectives had believed in the collective responsibility of everyone and of resources for the betterment of the society. The collective pool was being advocated for, and so the emergence of objectivity and individualism were highly frowned upon.
The fact that objectivity was a principle that say the right of an individual to make decisions and act upon his objectivity, was frowned upon by the soviet leaders as a theory that sought to give individuals power. In considering the fact that socialism and communism sort the collective distribution of wealth and the used the rule of 'common good' was a factor that could not allow them to accept objectivity. The western rejected Rand's individualism and capitalist approach as it saw this was a way to give the individual complete power, which was not perceive as ideal. It is the laissez faire rule that made them not to listen to anything she had to say, or suggest on capitalism and the positives of it on economy and the society. Philosophers on the other hand rejected her theory on the premise that it contained errors of omission in the light of the reality of social interactions, technology, history and economics (Ryan, 80).
Today Ayn's work is greatly embraced as it clearly shows and supports the American dream of freedom for everyman. In a culture that seriously embraces capitalism, Ayn's work has come out as one of the greatest pieces of work to support and provide progressive ways for this generation. From politician to business her work has been appreciated for its progressive ways.
Ayn Rand proposed a perfect model for the relationship between the government and business people. Rand had envisioned a system where all government agencies that controlled the economy, this has been possible with the abolishing of the interstate commerce commission and other regulatory bodies that controlled airline and trucking industries. She had also targeted the federal communications commission and the fairness doctrine. Today the doctrine and the interstate commerce commission no longer exist; on the other hand the FCC is always under attack. The antitrust law was under attack by Rand, however these antitrust are under opposition with some have been eliminated. This is because many of the political influencers are supporters of Rand, or are under the influence of her readings and theories. This kind of market was envisioned by Rand and today it exists because of her (Hudgins, 2006).
Her work has greatly influenced many political and organizational leaders in this day and age, these are the policy makers in the nation and their influence is felt through out. Rand's support for capitalism has been felt in today's generation because her books are widely read and greatly influence our leaders. A good number of the nation's leaders are known to be Rand's fans, these are the law makers and policy makers in this nation, and they have been able to shape the future of this nation in the protection of the individual rights and freedom as advocated for by Rand. Examples of her supporters today the father of the privatization movement, bob Poole who was a regulatory expert (Friedman, 130).
The founder of the club growth, an organization that supports the free market political candidates, and a member of the wall street journal, Steve Moore, is a fan of Rand. Most elected and appointed government officials are admirers of Rand, with business men too following suite, as her ideas on the free market that she advocated for in the day is coming to effect to day and has helped shape the economy of this country. On the other hand her works influence on the politician and law maker has ensured that the continued support for the founding father's philosophy of a free man has come to be (Hudgins, 2006).
The recently retired federal reserve chairman Alan Greespan, was an ally and an associate to Rand, wrote and lecture under her in the '60s. The Supreme Court associate, Justice Clarence Thomas is an admirer, most of these have copies of her books and can quote form them, and this shows how much they value her ideas and principles. The congressman Edward Royce talked of three thinkers who influenced him as F.A. Hayek, H.L. Mencken, and Ayn Rand, she hs been invited to speak at events organized by the objective centre. Congressman Ron Paul, read into the record an appreciation of Rand on her 100 birthday. Congressman Paul Ryan said 'can't find another thinker or writer who did a better job describing and laying out the moral case for capitalism" than Rand. The list goes on of the congressmen and women who are influenced by Rand.
Though she is not around to realize her dreams of a free individual but the fact that her ideas are greatly embraced and accepted in today's society means a lot. She may have failed to represent her work in the typical philosophical mind, with great omissions of rule governing writing but her books have reached a level that no journal can phantom. Her believe that the man should one day be free to be self supporting in every aspect of his life, While having an objective perspective is almost coming to reality. Rand believed that America and its diversity were a good platform to launch the individualism theory as she saw the nation as the perfect place for the individualized man.
While her ideas may not have been be presented in a philosophical manner, their meaning have reached the intended market. The person of today is well armed with his rights and they are aware of them everyday. It is for this reason that the principle of individualism can apply in today's society. The freedom we see today is as a result of the rights that are provided for in the declaration of independence and our laws, as our founding fathers would have wanted the freedom of all on this land, this is the same feeling Rand had. The freedom based on the person's power to reason and hence be objective. The use of characters in a fictional book to convey her ideas offended the scholars, that she was trying to prove a point by showing her well known arrogance to the philosophical experts.