Ayn Rand as Prophet?
The moniker is a touch ironic, given that the woman was the world's deadliest opponent of mysticism.
April 13, 2009 - 12:09 am
The culmination of her work was to present an entirely new moral code, one based on each man living as an end in himself, using reason to achieve his own success and happiness. It is this overarching system, including her conception of reason, justice, independence, the nature of production, etc., which informs her radically new views on politics.
Rand approached philosophy as a science. She held that the world is a natural, lawful place, which can be known if, and only if, we scrupulously follow logical thought processes — i.e., if we use reason. But for her, the role of reason didn’t end with discovering the causal relationships governing nature; it extended to answering the questions of what man should do (ethics) and how he knows it (epistemology). For instance, it extended to choosing appropriate moral values (purpose, self-esteem, etc.), and then discovering the principles necessary to obtain them (integrity, pride, etc.). This is the philosophic knowledge necessary to live successfully. For it to be valid, Rand argued, it must be gained in the same way that scientific knowledge is gained.
Even from this brief sketch we can see that there’s a real irony in describing Ayn Rand as “prophet.” Not only did she arrive at all her conclusions and predictions by a meticulous process of thought, she was also the world’s staunchest defender of reason — and deadliest opponent of mysticism.
So instead of fixating on Rand as “prophet,” let’s simply resolve to investigate her philosophy so that we too might understand the world in the fundamentally new and powerful way that she did.