[ExI] Ayn Rand and Evolution

Dan dan_ust at yahoo.com
Mon Jun 1 14:06:16 UTC 2009

--- On Sat, 5/30/09, Stefano Vaj <stefano.vaj at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 30, 2009 at 11:21 PM, Olga Bourlin <fauxever at sprynet.com>
>> wrote:
>> Well, there is a lot more to this (I did not bring in the
>> thread that my husband forwarded to me from his discussion
>> group - it was very juicy!).  I am merely starting to
>> explore this aspect as far as Rand goes.
> If I must venture on a personal opinion,
> I do not see any necessary contradiction between objectivist
> ideas and evolution. Additionally, Ayn Rand was passionate
> and multidisciplinary enough to put up relentless and
> emphatic battles against anything she believed to have a
> real relevance in respect of her worldview.
> But not being an objectivist myself, and being far from a
> scholar of Rand's thought, I am probably not really
> qualified to say a final word on the subject. 

I would use the label "Objectivist" to distinguish someone basically agreeing with Rand's philosophy versus just people who hold a more generic "objectivist" position in various area, such as "objectivists in art," who might completely disagree with Rand's wider philosophy and even her views on art, but hold there are objective esthetic standards in art.

Also, I don't think one needs to be an Objectivists to be a scholar of Rand or Objectivism.  (Not that you were stating you needed to be, but I just wanted to make sure no one believes that.  My guess would be that the most "objective" scholar of Objectivism would probably be something who is NOT an Objectivist, but, at the same time, is not dismissive of Rand or Objectivism.  Chris Sciabarra has done much to foster such scholarship in recent years.)

But more to the meat of this issue:  I agree that there's nothing incompatible between evolution and Objectivism.  (And I do consider myself a scholar of Objectivism -- if only of the amateur sort.:)  That said, Rand and many of her seconds, however, do draw a very sharp line between humans and other animals.  They tend* to be very critical of animal rights, animal language, and most things that tend to minimize the distinction between humans and other animals.  I think this is more part of their deep psychology than of their philosophy -- yet it is there and detectable.

This doesn't mean every last person influenced by Rand will hold to these views -- or that anyone accepting her broad principles and methods must accept her "exceptionalist" view of humans.  That would be package-dealing -- treating things that are only accidentally related as if they were essentially related -- something even Rand railed against.  (This is not to say Rand would rail against her own package-dealing.  My experience is people are good at detecting flaws in others' thinking -- flaws that they themselves would never detect in their own.)



*  I use "tend" because there are always exceptions.


More information about the extropy-chat mailing list