Thereafter, she published her own work and lectured on the Objectivist moral ethic to which she often referred to as "a philosophy for living on earth" based on rational self-interest and the balance between the needs of the individual and moral principles based on a commitment to objective situational perception and analysis (Merrill, 1998).
In principle, Objectivism maintains that self-interest or rational egoism is a valid perspective but that the individual's perceptions must always be guided by an objective
(vs. subjectively biased) understanding of one's rights and obligations with respect to others and to society. While the main purpose of life according to Rand is self-
fulfillment, it is rational objectivity that both distinguishes appropriate from inappropriate moral actions and that establishes the role of the individual in society. Like other moral philosophers of her time, including the infamous physicist Albert Einstein and the philosopher and historian Bertrand Russell, Rand suggested that while the individual's primary obligation was to seek his own happiness, a moral imperative precluded exploiting other to achieve personal goals (Merril, 1998; Peikhoff, 1993).
Similarly, Rand shared the belief of Einstein and Russell that the most fulfilling life is that which focuses on benefiting other members of society. Finally, in that regard,
Rand also mirrored Einstein and Russell's belief that organized religion inspired more social harm and human cruelty in human societies than any purported benefit and that the psychological orientation of theism undermined the development of both independent rational perspective and a genuine self-esteem and psychological sufficiency in the individual (Peikhoff, 1993; Rand, 1964).
That point-of-view in particular inspired one of her students, Nathaniel Branden to devote his later career as a psychologist and prolific author of psychology self-help books on understanding the origin and importance of self-esteem as well the environmental causes and consequences of low self-esteem. Branden's work also prominently featured
Ayn's characterization of intellectual independence, honesty, and especially, psychological and philosophical integrity (Peikhoff, 1993; Rand, 1964). Both Rand and Branden emphasized that the commitment to think instead of avoiding thinking about moral concepts and about what actions and desires are ethically appropriate and what courses of human action are ethically inappropriate for the individual to pursue is a fundamental prerequisite for the Objectivist ethic and…… [Read More]
First, this viewpoint essentially discounts all abstract works from being called "art." This idea seems counterintuitive to many; numerous art critics, collectors, viewers, and even Rand (see below) consider abstract art to be art, based on the metaphysical emotions it re-creates. Rand's Objectivist philosophy does not completely accept emotions as having an existence independent of a subject, and therefore her view on non-representational art is at least consistent with Objectivist metaphysics. However, it seems that her definition of art as it pertains to music is incompatible with her dismissal of non-representational art, since she states that music re-creates reality by sound waves evoking metaphysical emotions (Rand, Vis Arts 109). It may be argued that her view of music is consistent with Objectivism if the music is combined with lyrics; however, Rand appears to be unclear on this point.
Rand's view that work of art must be judged by an "objective, rational standard" (Rand, Vis Arts 109) is consistent with Objectivism. However, it is inconsistent with many prevailing notions that the value of a work of art changes based on the beholder's opinions, which are subject to cultural norms, among other influences (Kreiner 9).
In conclusion, in this paper I have described Ayn Rand's life and background, discussed her work, especially her philosophy of art, and critiqued her work. The critique has focused on Objectivism's views of art. The critique argues that Objectivism's definition of art excludes all abstract art, which is not only a counterintuitive view, but also may be inconsistent with Objectivism.
Works… [Read More]
Ayn Rand, "Antitrust: The Rule Unreason" alleged purpose Antitrust laws protect competition; purpose-based socialistic fallacy a free, unregulated market inevitably lead establishment coercive monopolies.
Remarks on Causation and Liability
This reading discusses the relationship between conduct and result. This mainly refers to an injury afflicted to a person because of negligence by another person. The writer specifies that an individual should be compensated for any injury they suffer that is directly caused by another individual's negligence Thomson, 1984.
The direct cause of injury might not be easily identified especially if there are two or more parties involved, but if the individual can prove that all parties were negligent then the parties should pay for the damages. The probability of negligence determines the percentage of payment by each party. The legal system is mainly concerned with justice and fairness. In the case presented in the paper, the plaintiff is injured, and there is no way for them to prove who caused the injury. The plaintiff sues the two people and the courts award him damages where each individual has the probability of causing the injury. The court determines that the plaintiff does in fact, have a right to be compensated and because there is no way to determine who caused the injury both parties had to compensate the plaintiff equally Braham & Hees, 2009()
The reading tries to establish the relationship between causation and liability. The writer provides different scenarios that would make it easy to understand how causation of an event would lead to the liability. For a defendant to be found negligent, they must have acted willingly and knowingly in a negligent manner. The writer continues to demonstrate that not all negligence could lead to liability. The negligence has to be directly related to the injury suffered. A plaintiff cannot sue an individual merely because they were negligent. The individual's negligence has to result in injury to the plaintiff…… [Read More]
Rand merely suggests that lacking any purpose in life is a moral failing of the individual. According to this view, a person who contributes nothing to others but lives very "purposefully" to satisfy an arbitrary personal interest in gardening, or cooking, or classic comic book collecting is living a life that is morally and spiritually superior to one who maintains no highly motivated purpose but happens to improve the lives of others through his profession.
This failure to distinguish between life purposes with a worthwhile effect and life purposes that are both harmless and useless to others implies that the comic book collector is necessarily a more fulfilling and moral life than that of the person who simply enjoys life and lives humbly and peacefully with others. In my opinion, the individual who lives for any unexamined purpose (or one that actually accomplishes nothing but self-fulfilment) may be lower on the moral or spiritual scale than someone who recognizes his own insignificance and the purely subjective valuation of human activities.
Black and White:
Finally, I disagree with Rand's position on black-and-white thinking. She describes intermediate positions (of "grey") as worse than even the wrong conclusions where the choice is between the right answer, the wrong answer, and a middle of the road position. In my opinion, it is illogical to suggest that the middle position is "worse" than the position that is absolutely wrong. In my view, most moral and other complex questions raise a kaleidoscope of colored issues and not a black-and-white or even a shades-of-grey approach. If anything, a middle position is certainly less wrong than the wrong answer and it is more likely to address multiple nuances or competing interests raised by dilemmas of any…… [Read More]
Virtue of Selfishness by Ayn Rand
The Rationalization and Pursuit of Self-interest of Humanity in "The Virtue of Selfishness" by Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand's collection of essays in the book "The Virtue of Selfishness" provides insightful thoughts about the emergence of rationalization and individualism within the individual. The author discusses how the dawn of humankind had already seen the emergence of individualism and rationalization. It is only in the process of being nurtured by the social environment that the individual learns how to detest, even consider evil, the 'virtue' of selfishness.
In discussing Rand's "philosophy" that selfishness is a virtue, this paper discusses five essays, which the author of this paper considers as the most crucial in explaining the concepts that Rand introduces in the book. The discussion is followed by an analysis of the author's claims and premises regarding the topic and assesses each premise or concept introduced in the context of the present outlook of human society towards selfishness and humankind's rationalization and individualization.
In the Introduction of the book, Rand already provides a thorough discussion of the definition and scope of the term "selfishness" that is used throughout the book. Simply put, the author defines selfishness as the "pursuit of self-interest." She further elucidates the concept of selfishness, putting it under the domain of what she terms as "Objectivist ethics," which includes concepts associated to selfishness, such as rationalization and individualism. Indeed, it is no wonder that Rand illustrates objectivist ethics as occurring when "the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action and that man must act for his own rational self-interest."
Rand also clarifies and renews the notion that selfishness is an "evil" concept, which is similar to the Hedonist philosophy that encourages the individual to pursue his own interests without any regard to other people or for the society, in general. She considers selfishness as influenced by human society's moral codes, an unfortunate result of the prevalence of altruism. Indeed, the altruism-selfishness dichotomy is oftentimes synonymously associated with the good-bad dichotomy, and always, selfishness is associated with bad morals and altruism, with good ones.
The author protests and argues that altruism is not actually beneficial to an individual's true nature. This is because altruism "...does not provide man with an automatic form of survival" and since man is bound by a moral code…… [Read More]
Anthem, the author Ayn Rand once again examines the conflict between the individual and society. The story occurs in a fictional location and society where the individual possess no rights. It is the responsibility of the individual to serve the state and any form of independent thinking or action is strictly prohibited. Against this background, the hero of the story, Equality 7-2521, emerges as an intelligent young man who has a dream of being scientist but, instead, is directed by the state to be a street sweeper. In direct opposition to the state, Equality secretly performs scientific research and experiments and, in the process, he discovers the electric light. Equality is excited by his discovery and is hopeful that it will benefit society but he soon learns that the state looks upon his discovery negatively and the governing Council actually threatens to destroy it.
The struggle that forms the basis of this story is Equality's desire to think and live as he wishes. The society in which lives controls every aspect of his life except his capacity to think. This they cannot control and Equality takes full advantage of this by engaging in his science experiments. Equality refuses to let the state prevent him from pursuing his individual interests. Realizing that if he were caught he would be sanctioned severely, Equality, nevertheless, continues to dissect animals, perform chemistry experiments, and work on his inventions. His individual need to know and understand as much as he can overrides his loyalty and fear of the state.
Although Equality eventually rejects the authority of the state he did not do so whimsically. Throughout most of the story he is conflict with not only the society that he lives in but also with himself. He has been raised in a society where there is no I. Everything that one does in Equality's society is done for greater good and this concept has been ingrained in him his entire life. As he matures he begins to struggle with the control that his society has on him and tries to find a way to follow his desire to be a scientist while not violating any of society's rules that are restraining him. The important thing to…… [Read More]
..and the profound contempt for man's nature is obvious." Therefore, man should not embrace values others than he has decided for himself. In terms of the relation with the community, this should be the result of the peaceful and moral coexistence between the individuals which are al driven by their rationale choices.
The philosophical perspectives of both Reich and Rand also consider the very essence of human nature and the role state has from this perspective. However, taking into account the differing points-of-view, Reich and Rand attribute different interpretations on these two points.
Reich has a more communitarian oriented perspective on the nature of man. From his writings, it can be concluded that in his view, the human being is good in nature, with moral values and an interest for its fellows' well-being. However, the changing society and the new accent placed on the continuous desire for "rich to become richer and the poor to become poorer" has transformed the individual who lost his interest for the development of the community rather than that of the individual. In this sense, he appeals to the core values of the being which could redirect the actions undergone at the level of the society towards a more equal transformation of the social environment. His opinion regarding the role of the state is in direct connection with this assessment is He drifts away from the traditional point-of-view due to the rather significant importance he gives to the support of the state for the population. Hallowell considers that "the government that governs least, governs best," while Reich views the interventionist and protection measures taken by the state are essential for the reestablishment of the equilibrium between the rich and the poor in the sense that the poor must be helped, through any means possible to reach a…… [Read More]
It is this attitude that places Roark upon the road of discover that leads to himself and his inner drive to create beauty.
From Rand's book, it becomes clear that she is presenting her philosophy of objectivism. It is a philosophy that promotes the spirit of individualism rather than the collective; and of the pursued of happiness for the individual in question. According to William Thomas, however, this is not an isolated type of individualism. It is acutely aware of the other human beings among whom the individual functions. As such, it is aware of the necessity of achieving individual happiness while keeping in mind the rights of others. In the act of building businesses, inventing technologies, and creating art (Thomas), individuals who subscribe to objectivism do so with an awareness of the community and its needs.
When applied to the world we know today, the spirit of entrepreneurship can be seen as a manifestation of Rand's objectivism. One example is the increased awareness of the social responsibility concept. Most businesses today are involved in community and environmental projects as part of their marketing campaigns, as well as an awareness of the necessity of such projects. It is also not uncommon to hear about the rich and famous contributing to philanthropic causes that they care about.
One might even go as far as saying that today, more than any time before in history, entrepreneurs are aware of their responsibilities towards the social collective. No business functions in isolation. It is in adhering to moral responsibility towards others that others are encouraged to lend their support as well. Hence, Ayn Rand was not only a pioneer; she was also a visionary. As a writer and philosopher, she promoted the ideal of entrepreneurship with responsibility.… [Read More]
What is the Moratorium on Brains? Is there a similar moratorium currently?
In the novel Atlas Shrugged, author Ayn Rand discusses a dystopian condition which she calls the "moratorium on brains." By this, Rand refers to the death of individualism and individual thought. Instead of supporting unique thinking and the power of invention, the corruption of the government and the social hierarchy in its entirety has changed the national landscape. People who thought for themselves and tried to define their selves as individuals disappear entirely or they simply vacate their jobs and get replaced by sinister people who will neither question the authority figures nor try to differentiate themselves. Those who remain behind understand that they are discouraged from thinking or using their minds in any capacity other than to perform regular ordered tasks throughout the day. They are being shackled intellectually by the government and thus are never able to transcend above their stations and achieve individual satisfaction.
The term "moratorium on brains" can be applied to any situation where the individual is ordered to behave and to speak in a certain way. Any time where individual speech and individual thought is derided by the majority population the moratorium on brains is in action. Right now in the United States of America, there is a contentious presidential election on the horizon. Never before have the two sides, Republican and Democrat, seemed so divided and by extension never have the people been so at odds. Those who support the Republican nominee Mitt Romney do not understand how people can support the Democratic nominee Barack Obama and vice versa.
Instead of using logic or statistics to back their arguments about why they support one candidate over the other, conversations have descended into stereotypes. For example, there are advertisements from the Democratic campaign which argue that voting for Mitt Romney will somehow reset the social structure of the country. One noticeable one warned people to set back the clock's an hour on Saturday and not set back feminism 50 years on Tuesday.…… [Read More]
Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, depicts interplay of two forces: regulated economic freedom and free-market system. This paper describes the philosophy and the practical stances of both the schools of thought within the context of events that occur in the book.
Atlas Shrugged is a fictional account, which depicts the causes, the results, and the ultimate connotations attached to the moral and philosophical self-destruction that the mankind, in general, is slipping into in a gradual fashion. The most significant cause and hence the philosophy behind this moral decadence is the lack of belief in the morality of self-interest. And the vehicle through which this is perpetuated is the governmental control featuring diminishing economic freedom. Therefore the plot of Atlas Shrugged revolves around diminishing economic freedom resulting in intellectual stagnation. However there exists an opposing force that provides a directly opposite plan of action with a directly opposite belief system. Those belonging to this school of thought are intellectual and highly capable, rebelling against a society that preaches altruism, a society that teaches struggling victims that sacrifices for the sake of others is proper and moral, a society that indoctrinates its youth with a vicious, destructive skepticism. In this society, need is the most important claim to virtue, and so the most productive, capable men are forced into virtual enslavement by a vicious code of directives intended to eliminate all economic class distinctions. On the other hand, the philosophy behind economic controls is depicted to be upheld by the people of government in the form of economic regulations and controls. The plot of the book depicts these two factions by building up the story, which is continually shifting in focus between the first and the second categories. It is in the interplay of the characters and the plot, within the context of the government regulations that the philosophical motivation and the practical stances of both the schools become apparent. As the U.S. economy descends into a haze of hopelessness and corruption, malicious and greedy beings take power and seek to enslave the greatest of America's industrialists through government regulations. Dagny Taggart is one such corporate…… [Read More]
Anthem: Individuality vs. Conformity
The novella Anthem by Ayn Rand is the story of an individual's search for identity in a society based on conformity. Set in the future the story's protagonist, Equality 7-2521 is a street sweeper whose great sin is to have personal ambition. Equality 7-2521 is born into a collectivist society in which everyone's life is controlled by various councils of social planners and disciplinarians and in which the use of the word "I" has been forbidden. Every individual is "we," the perfection of "equality." Lacking any avenue for private thought and initiative, this would be utopia is so miserably poor, intellectually and materially, that its heroes of technological progress are "the twenty illustrious men who had invented the candle."
Equality 7-2521 rebels against this cult of interchangeable parts and the lowest common denominator and hides in order to conduct scientific research in a secret tunnel that contains relics of the Unmentionable Times. With help from discoveries he makes among the ruins of the preceding civilization, presumably our own, he reinvents the electric light. He offers his "power of the sky" to the World Council of Scholars, but they treat his achievement as an act of rebellion. He flees to the wilderness and with the help of a like-minded woman, Liberty 5-3000, starts to build his own society, a place of freedom to which dissidents can come and begin to recover the world that was lost.
Equity 7-2521rejects the norms of his society because of the oppression placed on individuality. His motivation to develop the electric light can be seen from a number of aspects. On one level he hopes his invention will make life more comfortable for his "brothers." He also is seeking redemption for breaking the laws of his society by keeping the tunnel a secret and doing unauthorized experiments. Ultimately, the work gives him a great deal of personal pleasure and a certain amount of pride. However, these feeling are forbidden in his world. Equality 7-2521 eventually comes to the understanding…… [Read More]
He needs to believe this not only for himself but also for those that follow and place their trust in him. He declares that money is the root of all evil and that it "can't buy happiness, Love will conquer any barrier and social distance" (392). These kinds of platitudes are nice to hear but they do not pay the bills. It is extremely important that the Looters believe these concepts, however, because they keep everyone on the same level, which leads to a lack of individuality and an overall sense of nihilism. James Taggert's philosophy brings people down instead of lifting them up and encouraging a sense of importance in the world. James Taggart resists at every opportunity the realization of what he is encouraging, which is a life of emptiness and lack. Orren Boyle and Bertram Scudder reinforce this attitude and conduct. They are "men who used words as a public instrument, to be avoided in the privacy of one's own mind. Words were a commitment. Carrying implications which they did not wish to face" (393). With this, we see how these men know that what they speak is wrong. They realize that they are not equipping people to be their best but they also know they are products of the government.
Rand also explores how the Moocher and Looters destroy lives with the tramp, Jeff Allan. Dagny encounters him on the Comet when he confesses to her that he actually voted for a plan in which 'each to work according to his ability, but would be paid according to his need" (660-1). Hard work was never rewarded and those who did not work as hard made the same amount of money regardless. This system removes the incentive to work. It also removes any happiness that might be associated with work. Those who ran the company did not believe that happiness was important but he tramp, proves otherwise. The plan corrupted everyone involved, Jeff tells Dagny that the plan "turned decent people into bastards, and there was nothing else it could do -- and it was called a moral ideal!" (665). The truth lies in his question, "What were…… [Read More]
" This could not even be termed a desire to do good, as then it would be fulfilling someone's desire to do a good deed, and would therefore have a selfish motive. Kant is one of the very few that attempted to divorce happiness from morality; even though lying to the mass murderer would save many lives, Kant believed that lying was wrong, and therefore one could not lie even in such a situation and remain moral. Unhappy or dead, yes, but definitely not moral.
Both men attempt to justify their ethical systems, not surprisingly, with completey contradictory suppositions. Kant supposes that there is such a thing as universal morality, which can be recognized by all and therefore adhered to in all situations. Mill believed that no such universal morality existed, but rather that society was based on a general consensus of treating everyone with mutual respect and liberty, creating a situation where most people could and would be mostly happy. He realized that what defined happiness and what was deemed permissible would change over time, and utilitarianism accounts for this in a way that Kant's theory does not, allowing for modification as people's definitions of usefulness -- and happiness -- change.
The diversity of the modern world definitely makes me more a proponent of Mill's Utilitarianism than Kant's categorical imperatives. People of different cultures have different systems of morality, and different ways of judging the correctness of an action. Not all of these systems are based on anything like utilitarianism, of course, but this ethical system allows for a more diverse culture to exist in the first place, whereas the moral absolutism theorized by Kant leaves no room for any outside opinions or adjustment -- an act is either moral or it is not, regardless of perspective or belief. Though Kant most likely did not mean his theory to be taken in such an intolerant way…… [Read More]
According to utilitarian ethical theory, a lie would be very moral indeed if it increased someone's happiness without creating detriment to anyone -- telling a child that their unintelligible crayon markings is a great picture of a house, for instance, boosts their self-esteem and helps them to feel loved, and no one in the art world suffers for this white lie.
Utilitarianism also provides a solution to conflicting duties that Kant's theory not only ignores, but actually renders impossible. Given a choice between stealing or starving, Kant's theory would state that the only moral choice would be to starve, as stealing is always an immoral act. According to utilitarianism, however, as long as the person being stolen from would not starve from the loss, the act of not stealing would actually be immoral; the consequences of the theft would be to stop someone from starving, whereas the consequences of not stealing would result in a death. There is more utility derived from stealing, in this instance, making it a morally correct act. Utilitarianism, rather than relying on the absolutism of Kantian ethics, allows for the many variations of human behavior and circumstance that exist in a given instance. This makes it a far more practical, though also far less altruistic, ethical theory than Kant's, while at the same time rooting the basis of the system in reason. This had been one of Kant's main purposes in developing his own theory of ethics, but ironically it seems as though the utilitarian theory developed by Mill is even more rationally based.
I find myself much more in agreement with the basic theory of utilitarianism than with Kant's deontological absolutism. A large reason for this is, admittedly, the practicality of the system and the allowances it makes for gray areas of morality and…… [Read More]
Ayn Rand's The Ethics of Emergencies speaks about the value of selfishness or self-interest. Although "selfishness" might seem negative at first, Rand's explanation makes quite a bit of sense. Rand speaks about selfishness as a rational process in which a person sets his/her hierarchy of values and lives according to those values in order to achieve the moral purpose of life: one's own happiness.
Summary of The Ethics of Emergencies
According to Ayn Rand's The Ethics of Emergencies, the moral purpose of life is to achieve one's own happiness. Describing her belief in Objectivism in 1962, Rand stated, "Man -- every man -- is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life" (Rand, Introducing Objectivism, 2012). Rand rejects "altruism," which can be defined as "unselfish concern" (Dictionary.com LLC, 2012), and believes that the ethical basis for altruism is a "malevolent universe" metaphysics. "Malevolent universe" metaphysics, which Rand also rejects, holds that "man, by his very nature, is helpless and doomed -- that success, happiness, achievement are impossible to him -- that emergencies, disasters, catastrophes are the norm of his life and that his primary goal is to combat them" (Peikoff, 2012). According to Rand, given the moral purpose of achieving one's own happiness, sacrifice is neither morally required nor admirable. The rational principle of conduct to adhere to this moral purpose is to always act in accordance with the hierarchy of your values. Rand believes that the virtue called "selfishness" requires: "(a) a hierarchy of values set by the standards of one's self-interest, and (b) the refusal to sacrifice a higher value to a lower one or to a nonvalue" (Rand, 1964, p. 55).
Application of Rand's Ideas to Today's Moral Environment
We might tend to think of "selfishness"…… [Read More]
Success cannot be generalized; too often the word is used as a term referring to financial independence or owning one's own company. Yet the sanitation worker who goes to bed each night with a smile on her face also connotes success in the modern world. I support a multiplicity of success, a diversity of dreams fulfilled.
My success, however, definitely includes financial independence and career recognition, but it also includes the clear conscience that comes from knowing that I did it all by and for myself, with confidence and conviction. Like Roark in Rand's book, I got where I am today due to my hard work and not hand-outs. Thus far I have not compromised my beliefs or goals to fit with prevailing norms, just as Roark would not deign to design that which disgusted him or sell out. Like Roark I listen to internal cues and heed not the call to conformity. Though others may scorn Roark and he outwardly fails at his career, Roark is an incontrovertible hero. Had he sold himself to earn a specific title or accolade or to be popular, Roark would have failed miserably.
Accounting might not be a glamorous job but I'm not after glitter and flash; those elements are not a part of my definition of success though they deserve a rightful place in someone else's life. I seek a stoic yet stimulating environment in which to practice my profession to the best of my ability. Yet to do so I will need further education and experience. At USC I intend to unwaveringly pursue my academic major with intensity, passion, and joy. Failure is not an option because I know that my career choice reflects innate talents in critical thinking and analysis.
Like designing a building demands structure and planning, so too does designing a career path. I am currently in the planning phase of my career, during which…… [Read More]
recurring dream in which I am standing at a podium in front of a large audience. I am the head of an organization, although my exact title and the nature of the organization are vague. In the dream, I deliver a speech, detailing some aspect of company policy. I am sure of myself; I speak with authority and conviction but for some reason I stand alone. Not one member of the crowd agrees with me, likes me, or supports me. When I wake up I feel a strange mixture of pride and humiliation. Yet like Howard Roark, hero of Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead, I realize that my unpopularity does not preclude my success. Roark succeeds not according to an external scale of measurement, based on societal values or norms and fueled by conformity. Rather, Roark is a hero and a success because of his unflinching individualism and his willingness to stand up for his principles in spite of immense opposition. Like Rand, I look to heroes like Roark for my inspiration and role modeling. Unlike the fleeting qualifiers of conventional success such as fame and fortune, the truly successful hero demonstrates unflinching idealism and unwavering pursuit of personal goals. Success defined by individualism and nonconformity is a difficult and demanding path but which in the end yields the true mark of heroism: integrity.
Roark succeeds in the end in spite of his struggles, just as I will succeed regardless of how unpopular my ideas or notions may be. In the short-term I will define success by my admission to a school in which I can thrive, a school that can help me to hone my talents and broaden my horizons. While I intend to participate fully in campus life and student activities, much as Roark participates fully in his social life, I will also develop my unique character traits, those characteristics that set me apart from the herd and enable me to truly shine. Roark's contribution to society was his glorious structures, his edifices…… [Read More]
Ethical egoism unsatisfactory moral theory; important corrective ethics -sacrifice. Briefly relate ethical egoism, defended Ayn Rand, ethics -sacrifice, presented Carol Gilligan's stage moral development.
Conventional morality tends to prioritize self-sacrifice as the ideal, particularly for females. However, the valorization of self-sacrifice can be taken too far -- Gilligan's theory of gender-based moral development seems to suggest that it is 'natural' for girls to prioritize harmony over objective ethical systems, even over their own welfare or personal sense of morality. For women to feel as though they have the right to pursue an education, to be competitive, and to have equal rights in the workplace and at home they must believe they have a certain intrinsic moral right to realize their personal goals. Too much self-sacrifice can result in codependency or supporting other people to the point that others take advantage of the person who is giving everything in an uncritical fashion. Thus emphasizing self-sacrifice too much can result in a loss of the meaningful creative contributions of women who instead expend their energies as helpers rather than seeking to shine in their own right. Also,…… [Read More]
Philosophical and Literary Representation of Capitalism
Progress & Technology in Capitalism
John Steinbeck wrote the social The Grapes of Wrath during the interwar years, just after the Great Depression harrowingly illustrated the power of unchecked capitalism. His novel takes the position that revolutionary change is needed, is inevitable, and that a just and non-exploitive society can only come about when capitalism is eliminated. Steinbeck is reported to have made clear his intentions as he prepared to write The Grapes of Wrath. In his words, "I want to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this" [the Great Depression and its widely destructive effects]." Steinbeck's collectivist-leaning voice at the time of his writing The Grapes of Wrath would become so altered over the course of three decades that it hardly seemed to belong to this writer who created on the very edge of moral fervor. Marxism acquired as decidedly Stalinist hue after the death of Lenin, further solidifying Steinbeck's skepticism about philosophical and political systems.
Despite the collectivist theme that is threaded throughout The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck considered socialism to be "simply another form of religion and thus delusional" (). The path that Steinbeck took to a practical -- if not moral -- acceptance of the capitalist-fueled Vietnam war stands as a microcosm of a view of capitalism which argues that workers are both the victims and the creators of the capitalism that damns them. With the industrialization o the nation -- and the laboring of American culture, as Denning (1996) put it -- people from the working class entered culture industries, becoming both subjects and producers of culture. In the cultural expressions of progress, which invariably engaged big business, workers could be compelled to sell their labor and, in effect, have their power co-opted against their own class's interests. Steinbeck saw clearly that poor migrants he wrote about in The Grapes of Wrath and the class of readers to whom he intended to most appeal -- were at once workers and victims of the same social processes. His understanding of production was decidedly…… [Read More]
When Henry Adams described the "task of education" as being "this problem of running order through chaos, direction through space, discipline through freedom, unity through-multiplicity," it appears that he was referring to something that people today would more readily refer to as the meaning of life. This may seem a loose phrase that risks cliche, but in fact it is the easiest way to make sense of Adams's set of paradoxes about education. After all, the events of life are a pure chaos of one event after another, unless one has obtained the mental criteria to evaluate them. Similarly, life is directionless unless one has a specific purpose, and life is marked by a bewildering freedom of options unless one is restricted to certain choices, and life can appear as numerous unique phenomena unless we have learned to recognize the underlying patterns and categories in those events. In some sense, then, what Henry Adams means is that education is our chief way of providing meaning to life (and religion, philosophy, science, art, politics, and economy) although he is too rhetorically elegant to come right out and say so. In the writings of great minds, as in life, the meaning is never readily apparent.
Certainly I agree with Adams's contention that education is how we discover meaning in life. This is perhaps easiest to see when a bad or inadequate education performs a pale parody of this task, and gives people an illusory meaning. The first example that springs to mind are devotees of the writer Ayn Rand. In these overheated paperback screeds familiar to many adolescents, Rand offers her readers a form of education: she has figured out her own meaning in life (and in religion, philosophy, science, art, politics, and, alas, economics) and she intends to share it, at great length. Ultimately these books are offering a course in the meaning of life -- the meaning propounded by Ayn…… [Read More]