Žižek Blames the US Government Shutdown on Ayn Rand’s Acolytes Who Caused the 2008 Collapse

zizek rand

The government shutdown and the raising of the debt ceiling — such things are not usually grist for our cultural mill. But all of that changes when a cultural theorist pins the blame for Washington’s dysfunction on the acolytes of a pseudo-philosopher. Writing in The Guardian last Friday, in simple, straightforward prose, Slovenia’s favorite theorist Slavoj Žižek asks and answers a question in the title of his op-ed: “Who is responsible for the US shutdown? The same idiots responsible for the 2008 meltdown”. And who are those “idiots,” you might wonder? Let me spare you the suspense and jump you down to the last two paragraphs of his piece:

One of the weird consequences of the 2008 financial meltdown and the measures taken to counteract it (enormous sums of money to help banks) was the revival of the work of Ayn Rand, the closest one can get to an ideologist of the “greed is good” radical capitalism. The sales of her opus Atlas Shrugged exploded. According to some reports, there are already signs that the scenario described in Atlas Shrugged – the creative capitalists themselves going on strike – is coming to pass in the form of a populist right. However, this misreads the situation: what is effectively taking place today is almost the exact opposite. Most of the bailout money is going precisely to the Randian “titans”, the bankers who failed in their “creative” schemes and thereby brought about the financial meltdown. It is not the “creative geniuses” who are now helping ordinary people, it is the ordinary people who are helping the failed “creative geniuses”.

John Galt, the central character in Atlas Shrugged, is not named until near the end of the novel. Before his identity is revealed, the question is repeatedly asked, “Who is John Galt”. Now we know precisely who he is: John Galt is the idiot responsible for the 2008 financial meltdown, and for the ongoing federal government shutdown in the US.

We’re not saying it’s the most trenchant analysis, but we do like to take note of intellectual dustups. Speaking of, did you miss the Chomsky-Žižek spat from the summer? It went four rounds. Round 1. Round 2. Round 3. Round 4. And ended in a draw.

via Dangerous Minds

Related Content:

Ayn Rand Adamantly Defends Her Atheism on The Phil Donahue Show (Circa 1979)

William F. Buckley Flogged Himself to Get Through Atlas Shrugged

Mike Wallace Interviews Ayn Rand (1959)

Make knowledge free & open. Share our posts with friends on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms:

by | Permalink | Comments (41) |

Comments (41)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  1. TorArneRysstad says . . . | October 14, 2013 / 3:29 am

    What utter and embarrassing drivel!!

  2. Richard Bramwell says . . . | October 14, 2013 / 6:03 am

    Drivel is right! Now I know not to ever bother reading anything u017diu017eek writes. He has no idea what Rand’s ideas are, nor any idea as to circumstances that lead to the 2008 mortgage crisis, nor what quantitative easing constitutes. nnSuch ignorance is bad enough in one man, but when inherent in a widely read newspaper it reveals a cultural decay… the ubiquity of minds willing to engage in & repeat the same level of ignorance, like chattering 19th Century fishwives.

  3. Antediluviancurrent says . . . | October 14, 2013 / 7:51 am

    Standard libertarian retort: I don’t like the tropes you’re using, therefore they are somehow logical fallacies and you’re factually wrong but I won’t say what exactly.

  4. Hanoch says . . . | October 14, 2013 / 8:33 am

    What government shutdown?

  5. Jason Phillips says . . . | October 14, 2013 / 8:55 am

    Oho – looks like Zizek and Chomsky might agree: https://twitter.com/daily_chomsky/status/389693395603427329

  6. Henry Solomon says . . . | October 14, 2013 / 10:04 am

    The only thing that person you quoted knows about Ayn Rand is her name. I think he just created out of his imagination what he wants to believe Ayn Rand stands for so that he could shoot down a straw man. nnFor those interested in what Objectivism really holds, see that Ayn Rand institute website:nwww.aynrand.orgnnFrom that person’s analysis you would think the government didn’t first create the problem they then “solved.” Now, isn’t that what government always does when they play with the economy. nn My reading recommendation are:u201cFree Market Revolutionu201d by Yaron Brook and Don Watkinsnu201cThe Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cureu201d by John A. Allison,nnnnOf course, this is in addition to “The Fountainhead,” and “Atlas Shrugged.”

  7. Lee Roy says . . . | October 14, 2013 / 11:08 am

    Wait, by pseudo-philosopher are you referring to Zizek or Rand? Even if it’s wrongheadedness on her part, she had a much more pronounced philosophical position than he has to date. As a Cultural Theorist, he does come up with some funny stuff, which is more than we can say for her.

  8. Robert Band says . . . | October 14, 2013 / 1:57 pm

    Fascist! All fucking fascist!

  9. Michael Morse says . . . | October 14, 2013 / 2:40 pm

    “pronounced philosophical position”? That balances Rand’s arrogant, deadbone ignorant and high-handed dismissal of the philosophical tradition? The expression “pseudo-philosopher” defines her to a tee.

  10. Michael Morse says . . . | October 14, 2013 / 2:42 pm

    I agree completely. Atlas Shrugged is the worst novel I’ve ever read. And Rand’s pseduo-philosophy is just you describe it!

  11. Richard Bramwell says . . . | October 14, 2013 / 2:58 pm

    It is not illegitimate reasoning to simply state that an argument is wrong or misinformed. nnIt is illegitimate reasoning to simply address only that statement as being an unfounded, knee jerk reaction, rather than examine why it was made… and as such is a much less intelligent effort.nnTo touch on some facts…nnRand did not approve of government intervention in business, nor the money supply (Greenspan abandoned her ideas quite quickly after becoming Fed Chairman, and did a lot of damage as a result). Rand would not have approved of Federally backed mortgage programs. If u017diu017eek and you were to pay any attention to what Ayn Rand Institute writers have been saying, you would know that they oppose bailouts and fiat money printing, and vehemently oppose the socialist cronyism in which both Democrats and Republicans routinely engage.nnAs I said in my comment, the problem is that neither you, nor u017diu017eek, nor the author [nor Michael Morse, below] give a damn about digging for, and learning, the truth (as opposed to skimming for negatives). The repetition of, or hasty justification of, rather hateful and mindless gossip is all you need or want.

  12. Antediluviancurrent says . . . | October 14, 2013 / 3:47 pm

    Acolytes is the keyword here. That’s the part you missed.nnRegardless of what Rand and her devotees might ideally conceive, some of Rand’s other followers are out there in positions of powers, at the head of businesses and banks.nThose acolytes didn’t play hardcore capitalism in their fictious Atlantis, but in the real world, an assemblage of overlapping fields of institutions. It’s pretty much like celebrating the 4th of July with fireworks in a living room.nnOf course if Rand were to call the shots, we’d have no bailouts whatsoever. Not even the notion of public goods.nHer utopic belief that with a truly free market things would get back to normal naturally is not something a democratic society can afford for a long time. It has to intervene at some point under the pressure of its people. The irony is that only an authoritarian government would be able to not intervene in a crippling economy.nnGreenspan only abandoned his Randian mindset after 2008, up until then he was convinced he was doing the right (Randian) thing.nThe idea that those acolytes who messed up didn’t remain ‘true’ to Rand’s ideas is on par with some Marxists claiming the failure of communism was its executors and not the idea itself.nIt’s the whole notion of “capitalism impurely applied” which is just another revolutionary model for societal change.

  13. Richard Bramwell says . . . | October 14, 2013 / 6:47 pm

    An acolyte is not necessarily a sycophant. I am an acolyte of Darwin, with respect to both his thinking methods and his principle of evolution of species through natural selection. I also fully accept the principles of Least Squares in statistical analyses, I consider rape, robbery and murder to be wrong, no matter who does it. nnAccepting and living by someone else’s valid ideas is not a weakness. However, It is a terrible weakness to accept and act on ideas that are not valid.nnThere are many Randians who are an embarrassment to Objectivism (Whole Foods CEO comes to mind). Greenspan was terrible long, long before 2008, but one would have to understand Rand to realize that! There are others whom you imagine to be Randian, and simply are not. They are not even capitalists u2014few businessmen actually are, but the media likes to say they are.nnYes, the parallel between Marxism has never been properly implemented and capitalism has never been properly implemented is enticing, but it is a canard.nnLook around the world. Every nation that has less government intervention in their economy has a wealthier, healthier, happier citizenry (with some exceptions due to distortions (Luxemborg is a nation of wealthy people who largely operate outside the nation.) Every nation with more socialist intervention, in a hundred different implementations, is in decline, or is hanging on, semi-stagnant, due to the persistent regulations and redistributions that undercut the productive in favor of the unproductive. The USA boomed after slavery ended because the productive kept most of what they produced, and used it to make more! The lower class believed they had a chance, if they worked for it, so they did You do not see that under any other politico-economic system.nnOne of more disheartening actions of the anti-capitalists is to observe a business failing caused, or enabled, by government regulations, and to them blame the failing on capitalism while clamoring for even more intervention. It is just that kind of insanity that now has the US under a $17trillion dollar debt load, and many other countries are in the same situation. If you read Atlas Shrugged, with some considerable care, you will find that Rand predicted exactly that, and even offered characters that are not unlike a great many who have appeared in Washington over the last 5 or 6 administrations.nnAS for “a truly free market getting things back to normal”, What the heck is “normal”? I say “normal” is when every man is expected to respect the right to life liberty and property of other men…. and that means every man in government too. Of course, their will be many exceptions, which is the only reason police and courts are necessary. Now, the culture is so crappy (noticeably so since I was a boy in 1959), that adults are unsure what respecting another’s rights actually means! This is most notable among politicians and bureaucrats.nnWith the partial exception of Ted Cruz, not one man in Washington gives a damn about the liberty or property of Americans so long as they can use one or the other to create the illusion of public service, to stay in political power.

  14. iro says . . . | October 14, 2013 / 6:57 pm

    Zizek despite not being systematic has a pretty solid foundation and ideas.nnUnfortunately most people are acquainted only with his articles on the internet. nnHere it’s explained pretty well:nhttp://www.iep.utm.edu/zizek/

  15. George Barker says . . . | October 14, 2013 / 7:19 pm

    Bankers in bed with the government do bear a similarity to certain characters in Atlas Shrugged: the villains. See Oren Boyle, James Taggart, and Wesley Mouch. These aren’t titans of capitalism – they are titans of cronyism and corruption. nnThe US government policy of subsidizing the “American Dream” of home ownership, the easy money policies of the Fed (known to Andrew Jackson as the “hydra of corruption” long before Goldman Sachs became the octopus) are what led to the bubble and the crash. And as if on queue they reacted to the crises they created with an epic power grab. nnThomas Jefferson wrote “…suppose a series of emergencies should occur…an institution like this…in a critical moment might overthrow the government” nnThis is why sales of Atlas Shrugged skyrocketed after 2008. The people do not believe that more government, more bailouts, or more currency debasement are the answer. And no drivel in an EU paper is going to convince them otherwise.nnAyn Rand was right.

  16. Antediluviancurrent says . . . | October 14, 2013 / 7:26 pm

    As I expected this would end up in an apology for capitalism, with an attractive looking albeit simplified overview of the success story of capital, of course ignoring the entirety of world history, namely (post)colonialism and the conveniently ignored role of the state over the past few centuries as the tool which paved the road for the new industrial upper class.nnYou regurgitated the “true” versus “false” capitalism/capitalists paradigm, as if there is such a thing, or is even relevant outside of the offices of doctrinary thinkers.nWe’re unable to discuss complex conditions of existence with this sort of fantasism that insists that u201cthe could be” and “the true” is a useful category for describing daily life and the market that socially organizes it.nnThe elitist trappings of Randian logic are obvious when it urges the so-called Atlasses to go ‘on strike’ ( i.e. revolution ). nBut whenever capital’s in crisis and its class’s power in danger, the state’s a necessary evil. Then the Stephan Molyneux-type rants stop, for a moment.nFascism in Chili wasn’t as evil for Friedman as social democrats. Pinochet did what he was told, unlike the lower classes and their pesky delusions finding agency.nSo claiming antidemocratic sentiment isn’t far-fetched at all. Quite the contrary, it’s inherent to it.

  17. Richard Bramwell says . . . | October 14, 2013 / 7:55 pm

    Wow. Do you have any idea that you streamed consciousness without checking whether it had any reference to reality at all?nnnUh, … it didn’t.

  18. Antediluviancurrent says . . . | October 14, 2013 / 7:58 pm

    And so we come full circle to the standard libertarian retort.nHave a good night.

  19. Richard Bramwell says . . . | October 14, 2013 / 8:01 pm

    I quite hate responding to Antediluviancurrent . He is a rationalist who manipulates ideas to win his point, rather than looking at Nature, Reality, and What benefits mankind, to make his point. nnnAny of them can die, so long as his rationalizations win out, the prick.

  20. Richard Bramwell says . . . | October 14, 2013 / 8:23 pm

    No circle, Antediluviancurrent,You just spewed meaningless BS, is all. nSeriously, is that all you’ve got?

  21. Antediluviancurrent says . . . | October 14, 2013 / 8:32 pm

    Meaningless BS? Well if that’s what you want to call a preliminary on contextualizing capitalism, its historicity. I don’t really care what logocentric economists have ideally conceived in their offices. As I said, the “could/should be” of ‘Objectivism’ is irrelevant as Atlantis doesn’t exist and a Randian mindset is as destructive as any utopian irresponsibly enacting his pipe dream in this world.nnnWith your point being that ‘real’ Randians aren’t in the positions of power they need to be, I’ve heard enough. You’re part of the same idealist tradition Karl Popper distrusted. Hopefully I won’t live to see the day where the ‘real’ philosophers rule the world.

  22. Lee Roy says . . . | October 15, 2013 / 4:14 am

    Just because you do not like her capitalistic ego-centrism doesn’t make your “point” very convincing, but thanks!

  23. Lee Roy says . . . | October 15, 2013 / 4:17 am

    I’ve read several of his books, and like his application of Hegel & Lacan to modern cultural theory, but I don’t think just an elite intellectualism necessarily qualifies him as a philosopher.

  24. Lee Roy says . . . | October 15, 2013 / 4:18 am

    Oh, and thanks for the link, Iro! :-)

  25. Richard Bramwell says . . . | October 15, 2013 / 6:42 am

    If you are trying to “contextualize capitalism”, do it thoroughly & accurately, rather than through the the bloody red lenses of Marxist thinkers, & their distorted use of words which justify or blank out the corpses their ideas produce.nnAn honest mind does not need Rand to recognize that Capitalism without government intervention enhances life and justice. Nothing else compares. nnDo not fall for the disgusting claims that men like Lay or Madoff are businessmen… and then blame all business. Nor presume a man like Blankfein (Goldman Sachs) is a capitalist… his career entailed playing to government intervention while trying to manage money productively (for shareholders). That leaves a lot of room for practices that might be unfair.nn(See “Bernie Madoff, Steve Jobs, and Wall Street Greed”)nnOne thing is always unfair: taking (by theft, fraud or force of government) one person’s money against his will and giving it to someone else. The extent to which that practice is institutionalized is proportional to the decline and stagnation of a nation’s economy. As that decline progresses, who suffers the most? Always the people the ‘redistributors’ insist they are trying to help! It’s blatantly sick, yet it never stops the redistributors. The reason is that helping the poor is not their fundamental motivation. Their deeper motivation is envious hatred of the wealthy.nnFinally, you don’t want to see “the ‘real’ philosophers rule the world”. But most of the World is ruled by a destructive philosophy that is various blends of Idealistic, Platonic mysticism. Major players have been

  26. Richard Bramwell says . . . | October 15, 2013 / 6:56 am

    Everything shut down should instantly be privatized… after all they are deemed “non-essential”. Without the government paying for them, the growth of debt would slow somewhat. E.g. I bet veterans would do a great job of looking after war memorials!

  27. Richard Bramwell says . . . | October 15, 2013 / 6:58 am

    See Shut Down the Government?n by Thomas Sowell

  28. Antediluviancurrent says . . . | October 15, 2013 / 7:19 am

    And how are the lenses of Randian thinking not distorting reality? It works both ways. nnYour focuss is on how much capitalism makes philosophically and economically ‘sense’. But ideas do not conceive in the offices of the departments of philosophy and bloom unperturbed in society. As I said before, you conveniently ignore (or your privileged position makes you unaware of what lies beyond the comfort zone of the West) history and contemporaneity.nnTalking about the march of capitalism without once mentioning the colonial context of f.e. British industrlal capitalism and the tragedy of the commons is grossly incomplete. Capitalism is historical. This is no chicken or egg question. The ideas conceived about capitalism ( and what it should ideally be ) came afterwards. Adam Smith was describing as much as he was theorizing about the dynamics of the market.nnNeither will I return to who is true to the principles of Objectivism or not. This “No True Scotsman” is not worth debating.

  29. Hanoch says . . . | October 15, 2013 / 11:32 am

    Sowell has the gumption to actually discuss the facts. Refreshing, as he always is.

  30. Michael Morse says . . . | October 15, 2013 / 2:03 pm

    I hardly see how someone who affects to call herself a philosopher, and dismisses Kant and Hegel in a nscant 10 pages as “collectivists,” sic, can be accused of “giving a damn about digging for and learning the truth,” much less eschewing the “skimming for negatives.”

  31. Richard Bramwell says . . . | October 16, 2013 / 6:47 am

    Many ideas can be seen as wrong in seconds, if the essential, wrong-headed, premise is evident. Once evident, one need only address that premise, as the essential, without exploring every nook and cranny of it. That may be of interest to someone else (See “Kant’s Gimmick” by Adam Mossoff), but it was not as important to Rand. One of her principles was not to negate something without replacing it with a positive. nnRand would make a concise case, rather than rely on simply smearing that with which she disagrees. She did call some things “disgusting”, but usually in conjunction with a few sentences that show why. Smearing (“arrogant, deadbone ignorant and high-handed”) by itself is very much the resort of a person who has failed to understand, thus revealing their own problems with arrogance and ignorance. It’s a shame, really. nnBTW, “the philosophical tradition” is why philosophy seems so useless to most people. Those ‘Philosophers’ epitomize Ivory Tower detachment from the real world… a problem Jonathan Swift lampooned nearly 300 years ago. Unfortunately, his story had little effect. Those he lampooned even lauded his story, whilst continuing their ‘tradition’.

  32. Michael Morse says . . . | October 16, 2013 / 7:16 am

    Mister Bramwell:nnn Isn’t this what you’ve said? : Because the philosophical tradition seems wrong-headed to “most people,” because it refused to learn from Swift’s (or Aristophanes’s) satire, then Rand is entirely justified in ignoring it–in the name of philosophy?n I’m sorry, but I think anyone who dismisses thinkers as formidable as Kant or Hegel with an absurdly simplistic and vacuous label like “collectivist” loses their right to be called “philosopher.” Look at Strawson’s amazingly nuanced critical study of Kant, or Adorno’s penetrating book on Hegel. Oh, and where is Husserl in Rand’s “critique”? Even by her back alley mugging standard, there’s no way to dismiss his work as “collectivist”; so she leaves him out. Ditto Wittgenstein, Popper, Strawson, Merleau-Ponty, Adorno, Buber, Weber, Nietzsche, JS Mill, CS Peirce, Spinoza, Leibniz, Hume, Locke (!), Rousseau, Russell, Whitehead.. every single one of these thinkers deserves the garbage can, just because Swift ridiculed philosophy? Really? But it’s clear that Rand never read any of these folks. And what evidence is there that she read anyone after Aristotle seriously? (And even his eudemonics and ethics get shoved off to the side.) Her version of practicality and getting to the heart of the matter was to leave out anything and everything that would complicate her coarse, pseudo-reasoned insistences. Popular thought? Yes. Influential? Oh, yeah. Philosophy. Please, let’s be serious here.nn(ps: this posting makes a substantial case for an attitude to philosophy on Rand’s part that is very much “arrogant, high handed, and deadbone ignorant”; if it’s true, then t’ain’t a smear, is it?)

  33. Richard Bramwell says . . . | October 16, 2013 / 8:20 am

    The reference to Swift was not suggesting that his was the definitive statement. I was asking you to look at the broad scope of philosophy (academically and culturally) to recognize the point Swift was making. That’s quite different.nnI do know that she read most of those you name, and many others. Certainly her literary heir Leonard Peikoff did (See his two volume, 24 lecture series on The History of Philosophy. You can scan the index to Volume 1 http://www.peikoff.com/courses_and_lectures/the-history-of-philosophy-volume-1-%E2%80%93-founders-of-western-philosophy-thales-to-hume/ ). The lecture series is limited to essentials, with critical commentary. He recommends the “The History of Western Philosophy” a 5 volume work by W.T. Jones for clean descriptions of each philosopher’s ideas..nnMost of the philosophers you list rehash, or add to, the same fundamental ideas (from mysticism or collectivism) using new wordings (Locke is a definite exception, and some have better moments.) In many places Rand refers to their ideas, but without specifically naming them. (E.g. she recognized the absurdity of Pragmatism and wrote against it; that’s C.S.Pierce).nnTheir ideas should not be thrown in the literal garbage can. They should be retained so that garbage can be recognized by each new generation. Their works, right or wrong, are an important, not to mention major, part of the history of philosophical thought. It is invaluable to see how ideas move from “The Republic” to “The City of Love” to “A Critique of Pure Reason” to “Phenomenology of Spirit” to “The Communist Manifesto” to “Mein Kampf” (with many steps and branches in between). One can see how those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeated it, with all the violence, poverty, & illness that implies.nnYou wrote, n’But it’s clear that Rand never read any of these folks. ‘nandn”Her version of practicality and getting to the heart of the matter was to leave out anything and everything that would complicate her…” nnnNo, you never bothered to dig enough to learn what she knew, as was immediately obvious with your very first comment. That makes you guilty of your own accusations. There is a word for that.

  34. Harry Binswanger says . . . | October 18, 2013 / 5:17 am

    Rand doesn’t “dismiss” Kant and Hegel, she gave the immortal refutation of Kant’s entire system, his separation of consciousness from existence (phenomena from noumena). nn”His [Kant's] argument, in essence, ran as follows: man is limited to a consciousness of a specific nature, which perceives by specific means and no others, therefore, his consciousness is not valid; man is blind, because he has eyesu2014deaf, because he has earsu2014deluded, because he has a mind…” [Rand, For the New Intellectual, 1961]nnnnNow THAT’s an argument. A profound one that integrates and refutes the slight-of-hand that gets Kant off the ground (the representationalist idea that the *object* of awareness is not reality but our *form* of perceiving it).nnnAs to Hegel, he is just Kant without the unknowable noumenal world. (And that view is a standard one, not limited to Objectivists.)

  35. Michael Morse says . . . | October 18, 2013 / 10:16 am

    Presumably, an “immortal refutation” would consist of a coherent argument that addresses the opponent’s stated positions. Rand fails on both counts. The latter part of her statement about Kant is of course nothing but analogy; if she had read her Aristotle a little more carefully, she’d know that’s a fallacy. Far more importantly, Kant *never* said, nor implied, “therefore, [his] consciousness is not valid.” That’s not even close to an acceptable paraphrase of the phenomenon/noumenon argument, much less an argumentative refutation. n The whole point of Critique of Pure Reason is that our “consciousness” IS “valid”–a crude and stupid word for it, in the context. Kant argues that we DO know “things in themselves,” but we do not know them in themselves. This is readily demonstrable in ordinary, a posteriori examples. Everyone who drives a car perforce knows that a combustion engine powers it; only the technically trained know how. VERY crudely, that’s what Kant is on about. (And may I trust you to recognize that, like Rand, what I have offered here is NOT an argument, but a description?) n In short, the (admittedly overcomplex) distinctions Kant argues are exactly *not* an abrupt, either-or distinction of “reality” and “form of perceiving it.” (And does Rand really want to argue that human consciousness and perception are not delimiting factors in and of knowledge?)n Describing Hegel as “Kant without the unknowable noumenal world” is a misstatement so preposterous that I can only recommend a serious reading of the Preface to the Phenomenology. If anything–and not that this is anything like straight-forwardly correct, either–Hegel’s attack on Kant starts by denying the phenomenal world. (See the sense certainty chapter.)n All I’m saying is that if Rand and her acolytes haven’t the patience to read these people with care and a comprehending ear, stop trying to pretend that what you’re offering is philosophy. You/she can kick stones, and dismiss philosophy and the philosophers all you want; but until you can come up with something more substantial than straw man and argument from analogy, you ain’t in the game, folks.

  36. Harry Binswanger says . . . | October 19, 2013 / 6:05 am

    I am traveling and do not have with me my copies of The Critique and Stace (I freely admit not reading more than a few pages of Hegel, who is the among the most unintelligible writers in history). Your interpretation of Kant is completely at odds with the scholarship that existed, long ago, when I was getting my Ph.D. nI do recall that Kant famously wrote, in the preface to the 2nd ed. of the Critique that “I had to deny knowledge in order to make room for faith.” (And yes, I’ve checked the German on that, and “deny” is a good translation.) He also says that we may have more success in metaphysics if we cease trying to make our conceptions fit the object and try making the object fit our conceptions (the wording there I don’t recall as well, but the idea was the complete reversal of the relationship of consciousness to existence).nWhat on earth do you take the Categories to be if not the constructors of the phenomenal world? Do you think, for instance, that causality is, for Kant, a fact about the world, and not an element added by consciousness to a non-causal world? What else is a “synthetic a priori” in his system but a structuring addition to *content* (not like an engine)?nnnOn Rand’s immortal refuation, leaving aside historical questions, would you agree that this is the immortal refutation of any philosopher who argues, whether Kant did or not, that consciousness cannot know things “as they really are” because the nature of our means of awareness inescapable alters our perceptions and conceptions? (and surely you must agree that that viewpoint is rampant in the history of philosophy, regardless of the issue of who spawned it).

  37. Michael Morse says . . . | October 19, 2013 / 6:23 am

    My principle quibble was with the word “[not] valid” to describe Kant’s account of consciousness. The phenomenal/noumenal distinction was fundamentally an attempt to overcome Humean skepticism, and secondarily Leibnizian/Cartesian dogmatic rationalism. Again, Kant says we *do&* experience things in themselves, just not in themselves. That’s in tune with Cassirer, Wolff, Paton, & translator Kemp Smith. Most importantly, it’s what Kant said. Any refutation of anything else is pure straw man.n Of course I’m aware of Kant’s maudlin statements about faith and reason. Against this, I can only counterpoise the literally daring “Religion with the Bounds..,” which damn near got him arrested. But, sure, statements like the one you quote are silly. *But*: so you’re quote from Rand! You admit to not reading Hegel; did Rand? I just don’t see how you can dismiss someone you haven’t read. (And I have read, afaik, everything Rand published in her lifetime after Fountainhead.)n But Rand’s attitude to the philosophical tradition as a whole compares very uneasily to L. Ron Hubbard’s view of psychology. Sure, every damn one of ‘em from Aristotle to Wittgenstein starts by triumphantly showing how their predecessors were poppycock. And Wittgenstein was probably even less well read in philosophy than Rand. But the author of the Investigations, if not the Tractatus, is at poles apart from the messianic self-congratulation of Rand or Hubbard. And from their defiantly nuance-less, ahistorical version of truth and human history.n I live by the damnable code that has made philosophers figures of ridicule ever since Aristophanes. But it is also the code that has given humanity some of its most exalted insights: it ain’t that simple.

  38. Harry Binswanger says . . . | October 19, 2013 / 10:44 am

    You’ve read her _Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology_? nnnIf so, I don’t see how you can compare her thought to the non-thought of L. Ron Hubbard! nnnYou didn’t answer my final query: does her “blind because eyes” show the error in all those “perspectivalists” and subjectivists (Nietzsche for one of many) who claim the means of awareness subjectivizes the content of awareness?

  39. Michael Morse says . . . | October 19, 2013 / 10:58 am

    Dear Harry,nn No, I haven’t read the “Intro”–a posthumous publication, ja? I would do so, if not entirely gladly, if it addresses in any sense this crucial point: “subjective” and “objective” are not simple, readily definable, once-and-for-all categories of experience. Calling Kant, Hegel, or even Nietzsche for that matter “perspectivalists,” as if their philosophies enshrined some form of solipsist arbitrariness, is the opposite of the truth. All three attempt a rational critique of subjectivity, attempting to establish what it is, how it works, and what it means. These are the true successors of Aristotle, and the accusation of “collectivism” against them is meaningless. Far more than anything I have ever read by Rand, they take the trouble to address the complexities of one and many, of premise and example–and of subject and object. “Blind because we have eyes” is a modestly clever bit of sarcasm; as a characterization of Kant and Hegel, it’s entirely incorrect.

  40. Harry Binswanger says . . . | October 19, 2013 / 11:56 am

    Michael,nnnNo, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology was published in 1966. It centers on her solution to the “problem of unviersals” and is by far her most technical philosophic writing. I am the editor of the 2nd edition which was revised to include 200 pp. of transcript from workshops she held in 1969-70 to answer questions on the book from philosophy professors and grad students. Among the attendees were John Nelson, Allan Gotthelf, and me.nnnWe seem to disagree on much regarding the interpretation of the history of philosophy. I could point out that my interpretation is “mainstream” but that would be criticizable as Ad Verecundiam. (But I just snuck the point in anyway.)nnnIf you’re interested in a presentation of Objectivist epistemology in a more traditionally academic style, I highly recommend the recently issued volume of Ayn Rand Society Philosophic Studies (U. Pitts. Press), edited by Allan Gotthelf and James G. Lennox: _Concepts and their Role in Knowledge_, which has papers from a recent colloquoy between some leading Objectivist and non-Objectivist philosohers on perception, concept-formation, propositions, and objectivity.nnnYou can get a quick look at the kind of thing academic Objectivist philosophers do at the website ,of the society, which is affiliated the Eastern Division of the APA:nwww.aynrandsociety.org

  41. Adam says . . . | October 20, 2013 / 11:29 pm

    It would be interesting to hear commentary on Ayn Rand’s philosophy from someone who has actually read her work. Watch this interview from 1959 — in which she calls capitalists with government help “the worst of all economic phenomena” — and see whether you think she would approve of bailouts for bankers:nnhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ooKsv_SX4Y

Add a comment