Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" provided one of our liveliest discussions ever at a book group meeting. Although many had resorted to using spark notes, most had read enough to have been drawn in to the book's philosophy, Rand's own philosophy that she called Objectivism, which is really what it's all about.
Individual liberty, the rule of reason and rational thinking, and free market capitalism are the primary components. Here is how Rand herself put it (from the Ayn Rand Institute website):
"My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."
The funny thing is, some of the activist groups that embrace her philosophies only embrace part of them. Seeing as how Rand was an extreme, outspoken, vehement atheist, (and pro-choice) it is strange to see tea party political groups holding posters or wearing t-shirts that say "I am John Galt" or "Atlas is shrugging;" right before they gather to pray!
Libertarians, too, raise a cheer for Ayn Rand. Rand, however, rejected Libertarians. She was ferociously particular about her ideas.
I found this little blurb from a blog post. One woman is challenged by the juxtaposition of Rand's very compelling "Virtue of Selfishness" essay, up against her Christian training of the virtue of selflessness.
It's nice to see that people are thinking. That, at least, would have pleased Rand. If nothing else she was determined that nothing be taken on faith, that no truths should be accepted without question.
To try and boil it down and claim to be a member of Rand's own philosophy of Objectivism is not okay. Very few people agree with everything she believed, and that was just fine with her, so long as we don't pretend to. I would say that no person willing to think and question could dismiss everything she says either.
As I said in yesterday's post - she angers me, she offends me, she bewilders me, she intrigues me, she challenges me.
Not many things that are deeply worthwhile are easy, and Rand's ideas are no exception.
Love her, hate her, but you can't deny that she was passionate and uncompromising in her pursuit of philosophical, ethical truths. Her ideas are worthy of contemplation.
Here is a wonderful quote from Ayn Rand that captures both her personality and her philosophy quite nicely:
"If you agree with some tenets of Objectivism, but disagree with others, do not call yourself an Objectivist; give proper authorship credit for the parts you agree with -- and then indulge in any flights of fancy you wish, on your own."