Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ayn Rand: An Objectivist Since 2&1/2 Years Old



Along with other fascinating comments, in this interview with Tom Snyder, Rand revises the age she discovered her philosophy of Objectivism to the age of a mere 2&1/2 years old - a big downgrade from the previous 12-ish she claims elsewhere.

(at 8:08)Tom Snyder: When did you discover, or think up, or allow Objectivism to become your philosophy?

Rand: From the time that I remember myself which was two and a half, the first incident I can remember in my life I was two and a half...and from that time on the the present I never changed my convictions - only at two and a half I didn't know as much as I know now, but the fundamental approach was the same. I've never had to change.
This must surely be one of Rand's most bizarre, self-mythologising claims ever - and there's a fair bit of competition for that honour.

27 comments:

Neil Parille said...

There are other claims that are self-mythologizing, such as Frank O'Connor was a hero on the scale of the heroes in her book, or that "no one helped me" when she came to the US (even though she lived at a charity house and with her relatives) or her claim that the changes in We the Living in the second editions were all minor.

She seemed to think that it is wrong to need help or to change.

Anonymous said...

2&1/2 seems about right for a philosophy that consists mostly of screaming "mine" and giving no thought whatsoever about what society or anyone else has done for you.

I think that the core of her philosophy is just the default position of children from 2 to 6 years. Objectivists just never grow up.

Damien said...

Personally I'm a bit surprised that the interviewer was not a bit more skeptical of some of her claims. I do have to agree with Rand on somethings she was saying. Novels do require structure. But If I were interviewing an old person who had influenced many different people, and they claimed that they came up with their entire philosophy on their own, when they were less then three years old, I'd have a hard time believing them. I mean, aren't people barely self aware at that age? I can barely remember anything that went on when I was that little.

Anonymous said...

>>2&1/2 seems about right for a philosophy that consists mostly of screaming "mine" and giving no thought whatsoever about what society or anyone else has done for you.

I think that the core of her philosophy is just the default position of children from 2 to 6
years. Objectivists just never grow up.<<

Wow. Saying that took about the same degree of thought and emotion that an average 3-year-old is capable of. This self-appointed spokesman for society gives less than a split second of thought to what “society” can do. The three guys pictured on the following page were self-appointed spokesmen for society, too. http://rexcurry.net/socialists.html

BenSix said...

"The three guys pictured on the following page were self-appointed spokesmen for society, too. http://rexcurry.net/socialists.html"

Ahahaha!

*Goes to smoke*

Ahahaha!

One could, I suppose, try to criticise phrasing, but it takes a genius to leap from that to reductio ad Hitlerum

gregnyquist said...

Damien: "Personally I'm a bit surprised that the interviewer was not a bit more skeptical of some of her claims."

It was not Snyder's style to challenge or ask hard questions of his guests—which may be one of the reasons why Rand agreed to interview with him. It is unlikely, for example, that she would have ever agreed to go on the Firing Line with Bill Buckley, not only because of her animus toward Buckley, but because she would have been asked tougher questions by a more knowledgable host.

Behemoth said...

2&1/2 seems about right for a philosophy that consists mostly of screaming "mine" and giving no thought whatsoever about what society or anyone else has done for you.

That's one of the funniest comments I've ever read on this blog. Beautiful.

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

It is unlikely, for example, that she would have ever agreed to go on the Firing Line with

Bill Buckley,

not only because of her animus toward Buckley, but because she would have been asked tougher questions by a more knowledgable host. - Greg

3/27/2009 10:40:00 AM
___________________________________










___________________________________

Also in 1957, Buckley came out in support of the segregationist South, famously[26] writing that "the central question that emerges ... is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas where it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes – the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race."[27]


Buckley changed his views and by the mid-1960s renounced racism. This change was caused in part because of his reaction to the tactics used by white supremacists against the civil rights movement, and in part because of the influence of friends like Garry Wills, who confronted Buckley on the morality of his politics.[28]

By the late 1960s, Buckley disagreed strenuously with segregationist George Wallace, and Buckley later said it was a mistake for National Review to have opposed the civil rights legislation of 1964-65. He later grew to admire Martin Luther King, Jr. and supported creation of a national holiday for him.[29]
___________________________________






So far so good, but....






___________________________________

As late as 2004, he defended his statement, at least the part referring to African Americans not being "advanced".


He pointed out the word "Advancement" in the name NAACP and continued, "The call for the 'advancement' of colored people presupposes they are behind. Which they were, in 1958, by any standards of measurement."[26
___________________________________






The word, "Advancedment" in NAACP, isn't it to stand for

the advancement of fairness, equality of opportunity for the blacks, who had been the most opressed race in U.S.?




Wasn't that rather sophmoric of him?

Jelly said...

It sounds as if Rand is saying that she didn't choose her philosophy and convictions as an intelligent, informed adult after logically identifying the nature of man and his place in the universe, but just had some sort of revelation or deterministic program imposed on her at the moment that she became aware as a 2-year-old.

Daniel Barnes said...

Yes, good comment Jelly.

Or perhaps that the Ultimate Uber Objectivist was such advanced specimen of self-created rationality, engaged with reality to such an unprecedented extent that she was able to fully identify her adult convictions without error even in infancy.

Of course, if we non-Objectivists find such explanations incredible, and indeed, evidence of Rand being simply delusional - that's just 'cos we're haters of greatness...;-)

Anonymous said...

According to the literature on Borderline Personality Disorder, 2 1/2 years is consistent with the emotional development level of an individual afflicted with the disease. Did Ayn Rand have BPD? Much of her documented behavior throughout her life suggests that it's a strong possibility.

Jelly said...

Daniel wrote:
"Of course, if we non-Objectivists find such explanations incredible, and indeed, evidence of Rand being simply delusional - that's just 'cos we're haters of greatness...;-)"

I don't find Rand's explanations incredible. To me she was a late bloomer. I came up with my philosophy when I still in the womb, and my cousin Steve was even brighter than me. He came up with his philosophy when he was a yet-to-be-fertilized egg.

Michael Sutcliffe said...

Well I'm not sure if you're haters of greatness, but you're definitely haters of Ayn Rand. That's your business and your choice.

All she's saying is that the ideas she had in her childhood about how the world worked were correct, and she later verified them through reason. She's not claiming at 2 years old that she had formed her own philosophy. So, for example, she probably thought praying to a god that you could never find and who would never appear was silly. She probably thought giving lollies to a kid who put them up his/her nose was a waste, even if you were told to share.

I'm not a psychologist but I'm sure we form our childhood opinions of the world based on our initial brain chemistry and the environment in which we are born. Then through our adulthood we change these opinions as we become better and more independent thinkers.

Myself, I accepted blindly the idea of the god I was told about in Sunday School and tried to please him through my good behavour. I thought it was good to make do with less because my parents thought this was a virtue, and I felt that people who exhibited clearly destructive behaviour shouldn't be penalised because we are all trying our best. It was only after quite a few years of thought that I decided that most of this was bunk. It was only in my late 20's that I even considered that Objectivism was really stacking up as a consistent philosophy that couldn't be ignored. I was over 30 before I let go of god!

Ayn Rand is saying she was lucky enough to have formed relatively accurate opinions early. Maybe this is why she had time to develop her philosophy so thoroughly - she didn't have to waste time recalibrating her perception of the world.

Damien said...

Michael Sutcliffe,

Being critical of someone or someone's ideas, doesn't mean you hate them.

Xtra Laj said...

Mr. Sutcliffe (let me address you with a modicum of respect before I begin the snide remarks),

Your rationalizations are awesome. Consider that the average 6 year old cannot even draw a diamond properly (try this at home and see what results you get with your kids - ask them at 4 years old to copy a diamond/kite and watch them botch it up until they come of age).

We want to believe that as a 2.5 year old, Rand could do these things?

And you wonder why when people like yourself rise to the defense of such accidental comedy, you lose credibility on other more straightforward issues? Christians are the ones who go on about what Jesus did at the age of 12. At least, they picked a more realistic age for their mythology.

Laj

Xtra Laj said...

Being critical of someone or someone's ideas, doesn't mean you hate them.

Damien,

Let's assume generously that Mr. Sutcliffe is a hip Objectivist and is using "hater" in a humorous sense as opposed to a literal, malicious, anger-filled sense.

Michael Sutcliffe said...

Let's assume generously that Mr. Sutcliffe is a hip Objectivist and is using "hater" in a humorous sense as opposed to a literal, malicious, anger-filled sense.

No, I actually think you people hate Ayn Rand in the 'anger-filled sense'. If you were only interested in her philosophy a post like this would just be a distraction. I mean why would you actually post on her personal side if you didn't like or dislike her? And I'm sure you don't like her!

(try this at home and see what results you get with your kids - ask them at 4 years old to copy a diamond/kite and watch them botch it up until they come of age).

We want to believe that as a 2.5 year old, Rand could do these things?


Well my three year old son is in bed, so I can't ask him to draw a diamond. But that wouldn't surprise me because we haven't practised the type of motor skills you'd need for using a pencil. However he has asked me (at times uncomfortable) questions about god, dying and issues of right vs wrong. And I see him use reason in ways I haven't taught him. For example, in the last week we've been practising counting and we went from 20 to 30 for the first time. He understood the system without fault from 21 i.e. you add a 'twenty' in front of counting from 1 to 9, there was no indecision or need for practice. Don't tell me children don't have the capacity to reason. And as I said Ayn Rand didn't say she'd come up with Objectivism at 2.5 years, just that her feelings on right and wrong and the nature of the world were established at that time and didn't need to change. Not saying she's definitely not lying but it's not implausible as you lot imply.

Wells said...

Lots of room for snark in this thread. While the jokes are funny, I'm going to actually be serious.

Did Ayn Rand come up with her philosophy or her 'sense of life' at 2.5?
No, because no one does.
I sincerely doubt that anyone reading this even remembers what they thought when they were two. If I were a betting man, I would put money on the fact that it is not even physically possible for a grown human being to remember anything that happened when they were 2 and a half. As to how smart are 2 year olds to begin with? I don't know. They aren't quite nearly as smart as 50 year olds though, which is what Ayn Rand looks like in the clip. I'll let someone else argue that Ayn Rand wasted 48 years of her life.

Was she lying when she said she thought up Objectivism at 2?
Not really, because lying is not merely saying things that are false, but rather expecting saying things that are are believed to be false by the liar, but what the liar would like others to believe are true.
Does Ayn Rand expect anyone to take serious the literal claim that her insight started at 2 and a half? No, she wants people to believe that she started 'A long time ago'.
What you are seeing here is something more akin to Puffery, which is hyperbolic exaggeration concerning goods sold. Just like the coffee shop owner will say that his coffee is the best in town, or the weed man will say that his is the realist shit he's ever smoked; Ayn Rand said Objectivism started when she was 2.

Anon69 said...

You have to understand what she's talking about - obviously it isn't Objectivism the fully fleshed-out philosophy. More like, the basic decision to "throw the switch" and think as described in the Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. You have to understand the importance Objectivists place on consistency in that choice, and that immorality can begin (and lead to a adult psychological problems) at a very young age. For Ayn Rand to put the date any later than her earliest memory would be to admit immorality. Since she won't do that, in order to live up to her superhero "qua man" standard she has to insist - quite seriously - that she made the fundamental choice the right way her entire life. It's not Puffery (as Wells puts it), it's logically necessary to maintain her ideal self-concept.

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

You have to understand the importance Objectivists place on consistency in that choice, and that

immorality

can begin (and lead to a adult psychological problems) at a very young age. For Ayn Rand to put the date any later than her earliest memory would be to admit

immorality. - anon69
___________________________________




Who decides what is moral

and

immoral

in universally objectively valid sense?

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

More like, the basic decision to "throw the switch" and think as described in the Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. You have to understand the importance Objectivists place on

consistency in that choice,... - anon69
___________________________________





Is that why Yaron Brook was being inconsistent (by the standard of Ayn Rand) with regard to trying to profit from investing in financial system he critisizes?

Daniel Barnes said...

Anon69:
>For Ayn Rand to put the date any later than her earliest memory would be to admit immorality. Since she won't do that, in order to live up to her superhero "qua man" standard she has to insist - quite seriously - that she made the fundamental choice the right way her entire life.

I agree, Anon69.

JayCross said...

Red,

He just means "moral according to Ayn Rand." She had a desire to be seen as always, from her earliest memory, living up to the moral code she expressed in her books.

- Jay

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

Red,

He just means "moral according to Ayn Rand." She had a desire to be seen as always, from her earliest memory, living up to the moral code she expressed in her books.

- Jay

4/01/2009 09:59:00 AM
___________________________________





So does this mean then you believe there is no such thing as

universally objectively valid morality?

Anonymous said...

Rand: "From the time that I remember myself which was two and a half, the first incident I can remember in my life I was two and a half...and from that time on the the present I never changed my convictions - only at two and a half I didn't know as much as I know now, but the FUNDAMENTAL APPROACH was the same. I've never had to change"

I suppose by fundamental approach she meant the following:

*Identify genuine values and attain them by enacting the actual causal processes.

*Stay focused on reality on that which you can perceive.

*Everything is something specific and acts in specific ways under specific conditions.

*Categorize, organize, and relate things correctly.

*Make wise choices. Identitfy wise choices.

*Be Happy. Avoid unhappiness.

Personally, I remember beig very pensive and concerned with choosing the right sequence of actions at the age of five.

And I remember my 2 yr old niece, while still in diapers, walking up to me one morning and, motioned her fore-finger, signaling me to come closer, and she grabbed my shirt as I bent down, she dragged me into the kitchen and pointed at the refrigerator. I opened the fridge door and she pointed to her bottle filled with milk.

@@?->!->$

Daniel Barnes said...

Anon:
> I suppose by fundamental approach she meant the following: (etc)

I think if you made those points to a 2&1/2 year old they wouldn't know WTF you were talking about. Of course, if Rand is the millenial supergenius of her followers' descriptions then yeah, sure, why not, it's like Christians speculating about what Jesus could or couldn't do if he wanted to. However it's not likely to impress non-believers very much, is it? Certainly we should also add context too ie the context of the other absurd claims Rand and her followers have made about her (see our simple "Are you a Rand cultist?" test for examples). With that background in mind, it seems just another in a series of absurd claims.

>Personally, I remember beig very pensive and concerned with choosing the right sequence of actions at the age of five...And I remember my 2 yr old niece (knew her bottle was in the fridge...)

Well, does that mean you were an Objectivist at 5 then? How about your niece, was she an Objectivist at 2? When a newborn cries and reaches for their mother's breast and knows to start sucking, are they an Objectivist too? Are there Kantian 5 year olds, 3 year olds, and babies that do not do such things?

Do you see what you're doing here? There is *nothing* distinctively Objectivist about the list of vagaries you've outlined. In fact it's rather like me trying to claim that 2 year old is a "fundamentally" a Popperian because they like to ask questions, or Marxist because they play with other kids, or a Berkleyan because they've got an imaginary friend...;-)

Anonymous said...

wow...liberal internet dinbats don't like Objectivism...villify creator. News at 11.

Boring at best...