I just finished reading Anthem by Ayn Rand. I've read her before: The Fountainhead, and her book on the craft of writing. She has an intriguing philosophy that people have discussed and argued and studied to death. Well guess what? I'm going to discuss it more.
There are some things I agree with and some I do not in Objectivism, Ayn Rand's philosophy. Here are her basic major points:
1. Reality - The world is as it is. We cannot change physics; we can only perceive.
2. Reason - Man is a rational being. There is no 'God' or fate.
3. Self-interest - The 'meaning of life' so to speak is to be the best you can be for yourself.
4. Capitalism - We as individuals must work for our keep.
As I read her books, I noticed that her characters were ambitious and, to an extent, emotionless. With these two characteristics (obviously they had more than just these two) they fit right into Rand's philosophy. They worked hard day and night to make money and do science and stuff (how elegantly worded, Aimee), fending for themselves and rising to the top. They were happy with their success, and happiness is great. People should be happy.
However, the lack of empathy left the characters' lives (especially their love lives) a little dry and kind of sad, though they were rolling in dough and had high esteem from their colleagues and friends. The characters were driven by logic and reason, but they completely ignored their (and others') emotions. Their 'happiness' was more of a contentedness with their success in life and less of a love for their situation and result of their actions. You know, the way that normal, emotionally adjusted people are happy.
I agree with Ayn Rand about a few things: physics is unchangeable by human hands, man's decisions (rational or not) control the direction of his life, and the individual being is powerful, unique, and significant.
I do not, however, agree with her opinions regarding economy and society.
Yes, individuals should work for their own keep instead of being lazy and having everything done for them. But Ayn Rand's philosophy, in my opinion, supports and promotes selfishness. Our actions do affect the outcome of our life, but they affect other people as well. While we all only have this one life to live and should live it to its fullest, we should not disregard people less fortunate then ourselves. Capitalism is nice and all, because people can get super rich if they work hard enough, but there are people who physically or mentally cannot work, or they have different opinions of society, and they suffer for it.
Rand praises the individual and demotes altruism, leaving behind a world of self-absorbed nihilists. I agree that each and every unique person is worthy, but I disagree people should take advantage of others in order to obtain wealth and esteem. No one is better than anyone else, but we are all wonderful. We shouldn't let those who are selfish and ambitious rise above and hurt others emotionally on their way to the top. We should channel our determination and self-interest not toward a world where the strong and emotionally hard stomp all over the weak and vulnerable, but toward a world where everyone has a chance to be happy and receive what they deserve.
Let's help others instead of solely helping ourselves!