Saturday, March 25, 2006

Ayn Rand the Chauvinist

John Enright has a notice about Dr. Stephen Hicks who will be giving a lecture on “Ayn Rand as Philosopher and Novelist” during Rockford College’s Women’s History month series. As John correctly notes, it is indeed surprising that Rand is being brought up in a “Women’s History” series – because typically Rand is perceived as being detrimental to the causes of Woman’s liberation. The female heroes in Ayn Rand’s novels embody the true, heroic essence of being a rational human. And as such, Rand does not differentiate between feminism and the heroic. Intellectually and spiritually, Rand maintained that the heroic character of a human being is achievable to both sexes. Her female characters are in many instances more powerful, more driven, more efficacious than the male characters of the novel. Kira, Dominique, Dagny are all fantastic, heroic, Randian creations worthy of any man or woman to look up and admire. Many feminists (of the modern sense) have accused Rand of being anti-feminist, backward, gender-insensitive, and a disgrace to femininity. Rand took great pride in such characterizations. Once she remarked that she was proud to be a male-chauvinist. It is true that Rand also considered the essence of the feminine, hero-worship – the woman’s reverence for her highest value, the man she loves. Rand differentiated men and women only on a purely physiological and sexual level, and appropriately so. She was profoundly anti-feminist and opposed to woman’s “liberation”. Rand said: “I believe in masculine superiority passionately, enthusiastically, delightfully – not intellectual or moral superiority, but sexual and romantic superiority. If you don’t understand this, then I’ll reluctantly say: I’m sorry” (Q&A) And if you wish to understand this, there can be no better way than to get yourself introduced to her philosophy by directly reading her works. She is one of the few writers/philosophers who actually writes in a language that is clear, precise, and unpretentious. If you find yourself disagreeing with her, you'll know exactly what it is that you disagree with. Her premises are always open and clear, her writing is honest, and you will notice no mental gymnastics, no obscure verbage, and no confounding wordplays that would hide the meaning of her thoughts. Such is her self-esteem and confidence in her philosophy, she lays it out openly in the light for everyone's scrutiny, without worry of being proven wrong or ridiculed.


Blogger Ergo Sum said...

Now compare Rand's voice of reason and clarity with this example of Sartre's nonsense: "Slime is the revenge of the In-Itself"

(Thanks to Robert Royce, from Philosophy Now for the quote!)

3/25/2006 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger Ergo Sum said...

Oh, and P.S. by saying that Rand wrote with clarity and openness, I'm not implying that the reader will grasp every aspect of her philosophy immediately. The reader's power of integration and intelligence should be understood as separate from the qualities of a writer's works.

Moreover, by the very nature of a philosophical system (which Objectivism is), the complex connections across various levels and hierarchies, one might not always understand all (full) implications of a principle just by virtue of the fact that the principle is clearly stated.

I myself struggle with cross-level integrations of many Objectivist principles.

3/25/2006 02:27:00 PM  

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