Sunday, May 13, 2007

RE Defects in Ayn Rand's Approach to the Myteries of the Universe

(IMHO as of now):

Ayn Rand: She came up with a philosophy, according to which, the proper path to understanding the reality of things, is the path whereby the only valid witnesses admitted by the court of the mind are the sense of sight, the sense of touch, the sense of smell, the sense of hearing.

From this she somehow jumps to the idea that therefore one must suppose that anything that cannot be judged by the senses to be true, should properly be supposed to be false.

Rand's supposedly realistic approach to the mysteries of life, somehow leads her to jump into the idea that this kind of 'scientific' legalistic approach to the understanding of the mysteries of life, somehow proves that the proper, good, and right attitude for a man, is that man's only ethical obligation is to serve himself, his own happiness, his own longevity.

There are certain serious defects in Rand's approach to the mysteries of human existence.

Rand elevates the senses of hearing, touch, taste, smell, and sight, and the mental process of rational logical analysis, to a special level of sanctity compared to psychic-like-states-of-mind and emotional states of mind.

Why should these senses of hearing touch smell and sight be accorded such special status? These four basic senses can lead men astray. Men can end up consuming an extremely unhealthy diet if they base their consumption of things on what tastes good. Men improve their health by putting their faith in the wise words of others re nutrition, and changing their ways. Men learn fast by (faith, something despised by Rand) trusting trustworthy persons, even though they have never actually seen or heard or smelled or touched or tasted the things these trustworthy persons describe.

For example you could tell me that a certain building was located in a certain place, and I could believe you (faith). But I would not know that building was located at that place (knowledge) until I actually went to the building myself to see it--and what would lead me to actually seeing the building myself (knowledge) would be believing (faith) what you said about where the building was.

With regards to unseen unheard realities of the spirit world, faith leads to knowledge, you do not get to knowledge without faith; the faith is like the soft clay that is hardened by the heat of religious experience, epiphany, into knowledge.

All senses can be right or wrong, they can lead one to truth, they can lead one to falsehood. People's eyes can deceive them, leading them to non-existent mirages in the desert. People's ears can deceive them, they can think they heard something they did not hear. People's ears and eyes can lead them into thinking that the world is flat.

There are lots of realities that were previously in history rejected as delusion, because senses such as sight and hearing are limited in terms of what they can pick up regarding what is going on out there. The point is that senses such as sight and hearing should not be over-rated compared to senses such as psychic-like-intuition. Psychic-like-intuition and the senses such as sight and hearing, are fellow mortals, it is not as if hearing, sight, touch etc., were gods, while psychic-like-intuition is a mere mortal.

Likewise, what is rational about simply assuming that the rational mind, is superior to the psychic or intuitive mind? Sure the rational mind can be right about things but so can the psychic and the intuitive minds. Of course the psychic/intuitive type mental processes can produce errors, but so also can the rational mind produce errors. Mankind these days often finds, that something mankind believed using his rational mind to be true at a time in the past, is actually not true; mankind is finding that things that mankind in the past believed in using the psychic/intuitive mind, but did not believe in using the rational mind, are in fact true.

According to Rand, man's proper most important goal is to promote his own happiness. But how can man achieve his own happiness, by ignoring his own emotions, replacing his emotions with logical interpretation of what he sees hears smells and touches? It is folly to say, that man enhances his own happiness by ignoring his own psychic-intuitive-type states of mind. we learn from looking at how man pursues his own happiness, that hyper-rationality and a lack of intuition does not always work.

Rand's idea that senses such as sight and hearing as opposed to psychic-like-intuition are what should be used in determining what is reality, somehow lead her to jump into the conclusion that since there is no evidence in terms of what can be seen, heard, touched, smelled, or tasted that God exists, therefore we must suppose that God does not exist. This kind of conceptual leap-frog is simply illogical, and it comes from someone who prides herself on her extreme level of skill in terms of abstract logical analysis. Throughout history, man has come to believe in things that he previously did not believe in because his highly limited senses such as his senses of sight and hearing were not observant and discerning enough to lead him to the truth.

Rand's idea is that the mind's logical analysis of what is told to the court of the mind by the witnesses of the senses such as sight and hearing, inexorably leads to the so-called 'truth' that man should be selfishly concerned with his own happiness and his own longevity, is yet again an illogical jump of faith of the type that Rand prides herself on as cleverly despising.

Even if we adopt a kind of meat-headed, brutish, concrete-brained approach to learning about the universe we live in, and believe in only that which we can see or hear etc etc., or rationally deduct, how does this prove that therefore man should transition from the natural/understandable/moderate level of selfishness tolerated by Christianity to the hyper-selfishness promoted by Rand? 'Objectively' speaking, looking at the objects in the world that we can see and hear and touch, it is obvious that many objects, are of use to other objects to just to themselves; one can see how objects through even their own destruction, become of use to other objects.

Rand proclaims herself to be a hero-worshipper, but her philosophy leads to the idea that the proper man puts his own longevity above all other considerations. What is heroic about an obsession with keeping one's self alive? According to legend the heroic King David, as a boy, in mortal single combat confronted the gigantic Goliath. In doing so King David was taking a tremendous risk with regards to his own longevity, out of his concern for the fellow members of his nation-state.

Listening to Rand, you hear things like, "man ought to be this, man ought not to be that, this is noble for a man, that is moral for a man, this is ignoble for a man, that is immoral for a man, this is virtuous that is not virtuous, this is proper, that is not proper". But the point is, if there is no God, then how can anything by noble, or ignoble, or virtuous, or not virtuous, or proper, or improper?

@2007 David Virgil Hobbs