Spreading Objectivism From the Bottom Up

Posted by JeromeHuyler 9 months, 1 week ago to Education
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Spreading Objectivism From the Bottom Up
Jerome Huyler, PhD.

How can explicit, objective ideas be transformed into a society's basic premises if its citizens have no interest in considering basic ideas, at all? By connecting to that society's implicit premises, it's "sense of life." How? by appealing to: (1) pocketbook (the terrible price a Progressive welfare state imposes on hard-working folks wanting only to live and let live), (2) Patronage (the injustice of using public power to advance private interests at others' expense, (3) Pride (the people's disgust with critics who heap scorn on America and feel nothing but shame and guilt over her history), and (4) Principle (the timeless cultural traditions embedded in American civilization from the start).

If Western Civilization is to be saved from the onslaught of modern-day, Liberal Progressivism, or worse (and don't ask me when), it will no doubt, be owing to the collected body of work Ayn Rand left behind. VAT or BAT, FAIR or FLAT, tax reform won't fix a thing. Neither will deficit reduction, piecemeal spending cuts or yet another "war" on waste, fraud and mismanagement. There is no safe way to pay for a runaway Welfare State. Nothing short of a comprehensive vision of man and society, and one firmly grounded in reason and reality, packs the power to put a wayward civilization back on track. Of course, if that triumphant day is to come, most beneficiaries will be wholly unaware of the indispensable role this greatest-of-all philosophers will have played in the process. It will be intellectual "middlemen" and activists standing on a long transmission belt of ideas who will bring her daring worldview to bear on current affairs and ongoing debates.
But, how will that day ever come? How does one spread so deep a conceptual understanding to a society that has no appreciation for the importance of basic ideas, as such? A half-century after Objectivism's introduction, there is little evidence that it is taking hold in our colleges and universities. On the contrary, our so-called centers of higher learning are dominated by professors who are only marginally acquainted with reason or reality (and then only after they leave their Ivy halls for the day). How many college courses assign "Philosophy Who Needs It," let alone Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, to their students?
And who in today's culture sees philosophy as a most sublime and world-turning endeavor? Imagine a Thanksgiving day family reunion attended by parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, a cross-section of successful doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants and daring entrepreneurs. A daughter comes home for the holidays. She has spent three months away at college in her pivotal freshman year. Before desert can be served she rises to her feet and proudly announces to all assembled: "You all have been by biggest backers, always telling me to find what it is I was meant to do and to go out and do it. Well, I've decided what I will do with my life. I'm going to be a philosopher." Wait for it, not a proud, vigorous round of applause, but a uniform expression of stunned disbelief (it seems she read Atlas Shrugged the summer following her high school graduation, but no one in her family thought much about it at the time).
Americans are not just un-philosophical; they are anti-philosophical. All anyone can do with today's humanities degree is write incomprehensible tracts and spend fruitless, poorly-paid years lecturing to disinterested students enrolled in mandatory courses. That is no reflection on philosophy, per se, but on the reputation it has earned from those who have been practicing it for the past few centuries. No one knows less about their profession than do professional philosophers.
And most Americans hold the practitioners in mighty low repute. As far as the average American can see, they've contributed nothing of note to the advancement of everyday life and whatever impact they've had has only served to undermine traditional values and chip away at the pride most ordinary people feel when contemplating their country's place in the world.
So how are these cynical, skeptical folks ever to be reached, if not through the dissemination of ideas in the fields of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, and political philosophy? How is Western Civilization and American culture to be saved? Here, again, Ayn Rand points the way. Individuals and nations may and may not be guided by explicit philosophic principles. This country's founding principles served just such a function, for a while. But, today, those precious principles are little more than empty sounds, meaningless generalities brought out at festive occasions and used as garnish to spice up patriotic orations. The point is that an individual or nation may and may not act on the basis of explicit philosophical premises. But no nation and no individual can live without some implicit view of reality guiding and directing its/his actions - for better or worse. As Ayn Rand wrote: "The integrated sum of a man's basic values is his sense of life." In her Ford Hall Forum talk, "Our Cultural Value Deprivation," She continued:

Man's values control his subconscious emotional mechanism, which functions like a computer adding up his desires, his experiences, his fulfillments and frustrations - like a sensitive guardian watchdog and instantly assessing his relationship to reality. The key question which this computer is programmed to answer is: What is possible to me?

The net result is profound. "Pleasure...[is] the reward and consequence of successful action - just as pain is the insignia of failure, destruction, death....The state of enjoyment gives [man] a direct experience of his own efficacy, of his competence to deal with the facts of reality, to achieve his values, to live...." She goes on:

A chronic lack of pleasure of any enjoyable, rewarding or stimulating experiences, produces a slow, gradual, day-by-day erosion of man's emotional vitality, which he may ignore or repress, but which is recorded by the relentless computer of his subconscious mechanism that registers an ebbing flow, then a trickle, then a few last drops of fuel - until the day when his inner motor stops and he wonders desperately why he has no desire to go on, unable to find any definable cause of his hopeless, chronic sense of exhaustion"

Well, what is good for the individual holds good for a nation of individuals, as such. Miss. Rand observes: "A nation, like an individual, has a sense of life, which is expressed not in its formal culture, but in its 'life-style'' - in the kinds of actions and attitudes which people take for granted and believe to be self-evident, but which are produced by complex evaluations involving a fundamental view of man's nature.
So Miss. Rand wanted to know: "where - in today's culture - can a man find any values or any meaningful pleasure?" In what cultural productions can the American people take pride? Miss. Rand painstakingly catalogued the kinds of irrational, anti-life productions then being promoted in the fields of film, literature, art, and philosophy. She was referring to a trend that has grown so much more corrosive in the decades since her passing. Our college and universities turn out journalists, news commentators, authors, poets, playwrights, and influential celebrities from the worlds

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  • Posted by $ exceller 9 months, 1 week ago
    "Miss. Rand painstakingly catalogued the kinds of irrational, anti-life productions then being promoted in the fields of film, literature, art, and philosophy. She was referring to a trend that has grown so much more corrosive in the decades since her passing. Our college and universities turn out journalists, news commentators, authors, poets, playwrights, and influential celebrities from the worlds "

    Absolutely correct.

    Take one example: gun control, the number one obsession of the left beside climate change.

    They are hell-bent pulling out all stops to ban guns.

    At the same, time Hollywood is producing a film (The Hunt) in which "deplorables" are hunted down and murdered, for fun.

    Typical scenario of the left when the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. Of course, it is allowed for them to do. Everything the left is doing is for "the betterment of humankind". The end justifies the means as Stalin's murdering 10 million people was justifiable, according to the left.
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