The Tragic Rand

Will Wilkinson has a good anti-conflationist piece on Rand, here. (CHT Charles Johnson.) I posted the following quibble:

Excellent piece (and on related points see also my posts Ayn Rand’s Left-Libertarian Legacy and Ayn Rand and the Capitalist Class); but I think I disagree with you about the benevolent-universe premise; when she says that success is metaphysically normal, I don’t think she means this to entail that success (or even the possibility of success) is statistically normal. Admittedly I think she perhaps sometimes slides from the former to the latter in her later writings (as in her changing views on charity); but if so, that was a mistaken inference and doesn’t impugn the principle itself. By analogy (to make a Michael Thompson-y point): even if some plague caused most lions to be born with three legs, it would still be true that the lion is a four-legged animal or that being four-legged is normal for lions.

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7 Responses to The Tragic Rand

  1. Danny October 16, 2009 at 4:06 pm #

    But what if the plague affected the lions’ genetic code so that future generations of lions would also be born with three legs? 😛

  2. John Q.Galt October 16, 2009 at 8:05 pm #

    I’m still thinking of (or wondering about – you leftists suck) Ayn wetting her panties seeing the American Soldier being flung into space and thinking that was a WIN for the Hu-man.

    • Tracy Saboe October 24, 2009 at 1:15 am #

      Rand had a lot of bizarre contradictory beliefs.


  3. John Q.Galt October 16, 2009 at 8:09 pm #

    Re: benevolent-universe

    Did Ayn Rand ever have a dancing plastic bag moment?

  4. John Q.Galt October 16, 2009 at 8:26 pm #

    Here are better Rocket Ships for you bloggers.

  5. Bob Kaercher October 18, 2009 at 9:51 am #

    Wilkinson wrote: “Her best novel, We the Living, is best precisely because she had yet to philosophically suppress her tragic instincts.”

    Yeah, I think that pretty much sums up why I appreciate We the Living so much more than Fountainhead or Atlas. Now what that that says about me and my own world view…

  6. MBH October 18, 2009 at 10:06 am #

    I admit: I’ve only read a portion of Michael Thompson’s paper, but I would like to try to clarify something.

    He seems to be making a point analogous to Kant’s–that existence is not a predicate. He seems to be saying that form of life is not a predicate, but instead, it interweaves through everything we can possibly express.

    I see how that means that we should consider justice-less-ness a deficit in the human form of life. But, I don’t see how that means that we should aim for some idealized version of justice. Shouldn’t we instead aim to make singular steps towards the idealized version of justice? Can’t we only hope to move in the direction of justice? Does it make sense to aim at grasping/possessing justice?

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