The Aesthetic Sins of Ayn Rand

Yes, yet another post about Ayn Rand and her crazy ideas. I promise this one will be short.

I’ve been thinking about the subject lately, if only because someone on a forum I sometimes visit asked about Objectivism and the flurry of responses (both positive and negative, accurate and inaccurate, mixed in all different ways) made me do a little thinking.

I’ve written previously about what I think the virtues and problems of Rand’s ideas are. But I’ve never discussed her writing, as such.

Basically, her works are uneven. I would recommend The Fountainhead over Atlas Shrugged, if only because the latter reiterates the basic points over and over long past the time when even a minimally aware reader will have grasped them, and the totally oblivious won’t be affected no matter what’s done. She desperately needed an editor, or more precisely, she needed to acknowledge that the way she wrote wasn’t necessarily the best way to say what she wanted to say. (Her non-fiction discussions of her ideas are a lot cleaner, and to my mind, more effective, than her fiction.)

But there’s one big flaw, one which cannot be forgiven: Rand uses associational techniques, which are prerational, to forward ideas that are not only supposed to be rational but which stress rationality. Instead of making arguments, she’s presenting propaganda in the worst sense.

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2 Responses to “The Aesthetic Sins of Ayn Rand”

  1. I’ve never read any Rand, nor do I intend to, but I always found it funny that she promoted artistic romanticism and was largely ignorant of science, even as she idealized scientific rationalism (nothing wrong with that part in my book).

    • I don’t think all that much of Rand personally, but her message has valuable aspects. They need to be carefully sifted, though, which I find is usually how valuable things need to be dealt with. The people who don’t need sifting are rare indeed – and the only way to identify them is to try to screen out their garbage and fail to find any.

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