Atlas Shrugged Textual Analysis

Posted by curi 5 months, 4 weeks ago to Philosophy
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Hi, I just joined and I see this place is mostly politics discussion. I'm a philosopher and wish there were better forums for Objectivist philosophy. Does anyone want to discuss Atlas Shrugged in detail? (see the link)
SOURCE URL: https://learnobjectivism.com/atlas-shrugged-chapter-1


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  • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 5 months, 4 weeks ago
    Thanks for your insights and outlook. I read your blog, the two available articles analyzing Atlas Shrugged and some of your other papers. I downloaded "Why Fallibility is Important" last night and read it this morning. I also found Karl Popper's ideas to be interesting and important to consider. Popper does offer isolated truths. However, generally, he is wrong. (See my blog here: https://necessaryfacts.blogspot.com/2... )

    And I am not alone among Objectivists in that. You attempted to sell this on the Rebirth of Reason site and were limited to posting in the Dissent forum. See here: http://rebirthofreason.com/Forum/Diss...
    The moderators found your thesis to be markedly inconsistent with Objectivism.

    The reductio ad absurdum of Popper's philosophy is post modernism, the claims by Paul Feuerabend, Jacques Lacan, and others, that ultimately, we can know nothing; reason and reality are illusions; science is a fraud; and so on.

    I know that Popper did not claim that at all. But neither did he establish an objective basis for knowledge. In fact, he clearly said that final knowledge is impossible, that we are always improving by correcting errors. He advanced falsifiability as a standard for the establishement of truth. In that, I agree, to the extent that falsifiability is a test for truth.

    But Objectivism does not assert - in fact denies and disproves - that failing to be falsified is the same as discovering necessary facts.
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    • Posted by 5 months, 4 weeks ago
      > In fact, [Popper] clearly said that final knowledge is impossible, that we are always improving by correcting errors.

      Sure, and Rand said that, too. E.g.:

      Do not say that you’re afraid to trust your mind because you know so little. Are you safer in surrendering to mystics and discarding the little that you know? Live and act within the limit of your knowledge and keep expanding it to the limit of your life. Redeem your mind from the hockshops of authority. Accept the fact that you are not omniscient, but playing a zombie will not give you omniscience—that your mind is fallible, but becoming mindless will not make you infallible—that an error made on your own is safer than ten truths accepted on faith, because the first leaves you the means to correct it, but the second destroys your capacity to distinguish truth from error. In place of your dream of an omniscient automaton, accept the fact that any knowledge man acquires is acquired by his own will and effort, and that that is his distinction in the universe, that is his nature, his morality, his glory.

      > [Popper] advanced falsifiability as a standard for the establishement of truth.

      He didn't. And neither your blog post nor your comment contains a quote from Popper. If you're going to claim to know things about him that I don't, and change my mind about what his views are, you'll need quotes. Could you also tell me how many or which of the Popper selections I recommend that you've personally read? I want to know if the situation is we are interpreting those passages differently, or that's not what's going on. http://fallibleideas.com/books#popper

      PS This forum doesn't appear to support quotes, only italics and bold. Please tell me if I'm missing something.
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      • Posted by Joy1inchrist 5 months, 3 weeks ago
        Curi, you asked if anyone would want to discuss Atlas Shrugged in detail. I suspect most of us would. We are a group of many individuals with very diverse thoughts and opinions in many areas - some of us are pro-Trump while others oppose him, some of us believe in God while others are atheists, some prefer ketchup while others prefer mustard (YES! we even have fun while taking silly polls). Though we differ in various ways, I feel safe in saying we all are great admirers of Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism. For this reason, I suspect discussing Atlas Shrugged, line by line would be a source of enjoyment for most of us.
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        • Posted by  $  Maritimus 5 months, 3 weeks ago
          I would like to second this.

          I agree that there are many different people here. I think that the site has moved, over the years, far from people tying to understand Objectivism to mostly current daily political commentary, nearly worthless.

          If there is a place where I could explore, with guidance more knowledgeable than my near ignorance, Atlas Shrugged in deep detail, I would jump in wholeheartedly. Put a notice in here even if you decide to do it somewhere else. Those interested will follow.
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      • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 5 months, 3 weeks ago
        The only two that I read are The Open Society and Its Enemies and The Logic of Scientific Discovery.

        Thanks for the Rand quotes on fallibility.

        No block quotes here, just italics and bold.
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        • Posted by 5 months, 3 weeks ago
          OK, well, as an expert on Popper, I can tell you that he's not what you think he is. If you decide to investigate personally, and have comments on passages or questions or something, we can talk about it. (Whether or not I still post at this forum, I'll post at my own forums and can be contacted by email.) Alternatively, if you know of a refutation of Popper which you think is correct and was written by someone who had read the relevant material and who criticizes quotes from that, then that could be discussed now. If you know of no such refutation, I think that says something bad about Popper's opponents – that they reject him without proper argument.
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  • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 5 months, 4 weeks ago
    Thanks, also for your close reading of Atlas Shrugged. Personally, for my frequent re-readings, I found some different interpretations of certain lines. At some level, how you interpret a painting depends on where you stand and where you came from to get there. That is not to say that it is all subjective or arbitrary, of course. Generally, you do have a good understanding of what Ayn Rand intended by what she wrote.

    I will point out that Atlas Shrugged is a novel. It depends on philosophy - as all works of art do - but it is not a philosophical treatise and surely not an encyclopedia. I mention that because of the apparent tension in the portrayal of Eddie Willers, Cheryl Marsh, and others, as "average" people versus the assertion by Dr. Akston that Galt, Ragnar, and Frisco are just "ordinary" people whose thinking is not cluttered with errors.
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  • Posted by Lucky 5 months, 4 weeks ago
    Yes there is too much politics here, even tho' I often indulge.

    The AS Close Reading chapter 1 is what the Gulch site should be about. It shows how dense, packed with ideas, Rand's writing is.

    Comment 1- main character Dagny has a position which, certainly in those days, would be described as a man's job. Yet she does not disguise herself, she dresses like a woman but does not put on an act.
    Comment 2- You have analyzed very well the scene of Dagny in her brother Jim's office. As you say it takes several readings to get the nuances of meaning. In my first reading of AS I had a different reaction, I could hardly stop ROFL, Jim trotted out excuse after excuse for inaction, he was utterly squelched on each one.
    Comment 3- You mention the sentence early in the story where the bus is described as expertly driven, this is the first clue that Rand respected the working man when work was performed with skill and dedication.
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    • Posted by  $  exceller 5 months, 3 weeks ago
      We have analyzed AS throughout over the years, and when warranted new aspects mandate to bring it up again.

      However, to ignore the political frame we live in would mean living in a bubble that many of the elite chose to do and which we must fight against. Don't forget that AR dealt with politics in both AS and Fountainhead. The politics of terror that we are sinking deeper and deeper into day after day.

      I studied philosophy in college and enjoy reading the greatest minds. However, I concluded since then that practicing philosophy for its own sake is a futile exercise. AR did not develop Objectivity for its own sake. To the contrary, she applied it to life, illustrating with solid facts the deviation attributed to politics and the damage caused by the ruling class being in power.

      That is why we discuss politics and its detrimental effect on our society.
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      • Posted by term2 5 months, 3 weeks ago
        I think what is driving political attention is that politics today is our enemy for the most part. Ignore leftists and you will be blindsided by attacks on your freedom and life in general.

        I would rather just ignore leftist politics, and treat it for what it is- nonsense. I pay a little attention to it so I can anticipate what disasters the left is going to throw at me.

        Other than that, politics today is a waste of time and energy, and time spent on the proper application of philosophy to our lives would be a far better use of the time we have here on earth.
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        • Posted by  $  exceller 5 months, 3 weeks ago
          Yes, politics today is a waste of time and energy.

          Ignore it and it will intrude on your life day in and day out.

          That is why the left is using it, being fully aware of the chaos and war-like conditions it creates.

          It is a luxury to turn your back to it: move to a forest, cut the phone and cable lines. While out there people die and forced to live in dictatorships.

          It is difficult to fight corrupt interests. When 911 happened, I knew that from there on our life would change drastically b/c we must factor in Islam and its tenet that is indoctrinated into every Muslim: to destroy our society.

          You can't close your eyes as if nothing is happening. It would be suicidal.
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          • Posted by term2 5 months, 3 weeks ago
            That’s true, but can we really do much about it other than going galt
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            • Posted by  $  exceller 5 months, 3 weeks ago
              That is up to you and up to the individual.
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              • Posted by term2 5 months, 3 weeks ago
                I think in 2020 we may take a giant step toward socialism, given the mob rule inherent in “democracy “. Trump hijacked a failed and reluctant Republican Party and slipped through the cracks to defeat the lazy and arrogant democrats. They won’t make those mistakes again.

                I think I am going to sell off my business in the next year or so and hide in plain sight to enjoy life as the country slowly collapses.

                The hatred for trump and what he stands for, along with the ever increasing restrictions on free speech has gotten past the point of no return. I think The plot of AS was essentially predictive of the only viable was to defeat collectivism. It has to fall of its own weight before enough people will agree to see its faults. In the meantime. We get to live through manh years of painful decline
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                • Posted by  $  exceller 5 months, 3 weeks ago
                  That is defeatist thinking.

                  The hatred for Trump is backfiring. Didn't you follow the backpedaling of the Dems on impeachment? In the midst of their hysteria and "resistance" they must have realized it was not a viable path for them.

                  Now they put up crazy Biden to defeat Trump. They are hoping he'll deliver a performance like he gave in the debate in 2012 coming across as the tavern drunk, interrupting and laughing like a maniac. That is what the mob wants.

                  Question is: is that what sane people want?
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                  • Posted by term2 5 months, 3 weeks ago
                    Perhaps I am just tired of all the negativity in politics. I just want to be esssentially left alone to pursue my life without having what I do regulated and taxed.
                    I call Biden - OG Biden. He is like a ghost from the past that never did anything, never thought anything unique, but the dems are looking ONLY at who can defeat Trump, regardless of what it does to the country.
                    Look at what they accomplished in two years of Trump hating- He has been investigated and kept from doing what he was hired to do for the most part. We lost our only chance at getting rid of Obamacare, we arent getting anywhere with immigration at the border. Its not looking very good except for two supreme court judges he got in after MUCH pain and suffering.

                    I think the dems backtracked on impeachment since they know they CANT win given that the Senate has to vote also for it. The senate couldnt even impeach Clinton for obvious very bad behavior.
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                    • Posted by  $  exceller 5 months, 3 weeks ago
                      Yes, you have a point.

                      Should we let society expire like it did in AS? Then escape to a Gulch with like minded compatriots?

                      I wish it could be done. I'd be the first one to fly there.
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                      • Posted by term2 5 months, 3 weeks ago
                        I am not sure we can prevent a collapse no matter what we do. As to escaping to a gulch, defense would be paramount and perhaps not achievable until a collapse of collectivism
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                        • Posted by  $  Maritimus 5 months, 3 weeks ago
                          Hello exceller and term2!

                          I enjoyed your conversation.

                          As an old fogy, I can only say few things that I think have meaning in this contest. I can tell you, with very deep conviction, an old saying that is, I think, obviously true: "People get the government they deserve." A corollary is: "If you don't rebel, you accept." I have two encouraging and two discouraging observations.

                          Encouraging. I see in the generation of my two sons, late 40s to early 50s a lot of smart, highly productive and incorruptible managers and leaders. The voters that mostly helped install Trump presidency were productive working class men and women.

                          Discouraging. The education system is rapidly deteriorating and produces more and more "sophomores" (i.e. literate ignoramuses) who are easily misled and abused by college faculties and ideological malfeasants. The current bunch of carrier politicians is deeply corrupt and will resist tooth and nail being pushed out of cushy get rich schemes that require little hard work and even less honesty.

                          The people will have to eventually impose their will. What Trump started is the slowly changing of navigation course of the huge bureaucratic monster of an aircraft carrier of nearly unimaginable size. It began to turn (unemployment, GDP, foreign policy, justice department, supreme court), but it will take years to turn it nearly 180 deg. needed.

                          I am looking for a rebellion without blood shedding.

                          Good luck to you all. I will not be around to see your success.
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                          • Posted by term2 5 months, 3 weeks ago
                            One thing that was very encouraging in 2016 were the huge numbers of what I call the secret trump voters- the y didn’t show up in the political polls but they showed up. at the polling places and cast their votes anonymously and in secret. I don’t say much and no one interviews me, but me and my friends will pull the lever for trump in 2020
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                • Posted by  $  Solver 5 months, 3 weeks ago
                  That may be a little bit like having thought, “Let’s just let the world find out how bad fascism really is.”
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                  • Posted by term2 5 months, 3 weeks ago
                    Amazing that there arent major stories every day about how bad socialism is in Venezuela and WHY its so bad. People here dont want to live under a failed system, and they need to see how socialism fails every time.
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                    • Posted by  $  Solver 5 months, 3 weeks ago
                      It just wasn’t the right benevolent dictator this time.
                      /s
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                      • Posted by term2 5 months, 3 weeks ago
                        Maybe there just isn’t such a person. Benevolent dictator is like calling socialism democratic socialism. It’s still a dictstot
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                        • Posted by  $  exceller 5 months, 3 weeks ago
                          There is no such thing as democratic socialism.

                          It is an oxymoron invented by the left to make it palatable for the sheeple.

                          The more dictatorial socialism/communism becomes, the more you hear the left shrieking "democracy". They don't even know what the term implies.

                          Socialism is the rule of the masses leading to communism. By definition, it is a dictatorship ("dictatorship of the proletariat" by Marx and Lenin).

                          There is no democracy there. The State puts into place measures to ensure its domination.
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                          • Posted by term2 5 months, 3 weeks ago
                            my point is that using the term benevolent dictator is of the same construction. A so called benevolent dictator is just a "dictator", period. Which is why all dictators turn out the same.
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    • Posted by  $  mminnick 5 months, 4 weeks ago
      I agree. The Gulch should be about obtaining as much knowledge about Objectivism as possible not about politics. I also spend too much time posting and replying to political content on the site. However, if one ignores the political environment, one ignores the preeminent threat to individual liberty. Do you think the AOC would give a rats behind about any of this except to brand it as reactionary and ban it from public discourse?
      I have been reading and studying Ayn Rand for approximately 60 years. I'm just starting to truly understand some of her basic ideas and getting a semisolid grasp of her philosophy. It takes much effort and much thinking to grasp what she is talking about. not an easy task in todays environment.
      So, Lucky, give us political junkies a small break.
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  • Posted by  $  Stormi 5 months, 3 weeks ago
    My one copy of Atlas Shrugged is highlighted much as your discussion does. I would read parts over and over, almost unable to believe Rand got it. I wanted to believe there was such thinking in the real world, my dad ran his business in such a manner.
    As to discussions of politics, one cannot read Atlas, or Brave New World, or 1984, without making the connection to the leadership in our own real lives. We want to seek others who believe in the ideas of Objectivism, of self-responsibility, and living for our own sake. Novels inspire, but we must do the real work, not just leave it on the pages. In a little over 90 pages, Rand predicted where we have sadly coe, she knew if we did not value capitalism, this is where we would be - books abandoned or confiscated. Incandescent light bulbs locked up to control the masses, left in the dark The collectivism of the governing by elimation of the work "I" from that socie losing what Rand valued, and knew well how it would happen. She left us with a living philisophy, for us to take up and apply. She gave us novels, which would show us how. How different if every school student read just one Rand novel, and was taught to get it too. Sadly, most of our graducates could not even read her 1,000 plus page novel today, so dumbed down.
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  • Posted by  $  Commander 5 months, 3 weeks ago
    Welcome curi.
    Have you familiarized yourself with Rand's , The Objectivist's Ethics"? I've found this to be the simplicity beyond complexity of Atlas Shrugged.
    I perused your website under Morality / Good, and it brought the aforementioned essay to mind. This lecture was delivered in early 1961 at UW Madison.
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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 5 months, 3 weeks ago
    "So long as he can’t deliver it, nobody can blame us."
    The way Jim cares more about blame than what actually happens stood out to me. I used to think of people like that as scheming to get what they want. AS and Fountainhead show how for some people reactions of other people are their goal, not a means to and end.
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  • Posted by Owlsrayne 5 months, 3 weeks ago
    I don't like politics either but I do contribute to those discussions at times. My take away from Ayn Rands "Atlas Shrugged" is that each of us is an individual. Some of us embrace that ideal while others are sheep. I never consider myself a sheep much to the chagrin of my wife when I become the squeaky wheel to be heard. I have low tolerance with unknowledgeable people. To back up what your saying with facts is paramount for me. That is very important!
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  • Posted by Spiderwilliams 5 months, 3 weeks ago
    Hey, I read Atlas Shrugged in 1973. I wouldn't mind discussing objectivism with you. Bare with with me until I get your time constraints.
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    • Posted by 5 months, 3 weeks ago
      I can't tell if "Bare with with me until I get your time constraints." is a typo of some sort (beyond "bear" being typoed) or if it's a request to know something about my time constraints. I have no time constraints which are relevant to you. I have put effort into arranging my life so that I have time to participate in philosophy discussions.
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  • Posted by chad 5 months, 3 weeks ago
    A great deal of what is posted here is in response to what is happening in the political democratic socialist world of America with the assumption that with the right tinkering it can be unraveled. It often seems the belief is that if even one small chain of slavery can be undone the slaves will realize what they have done to themselves and suddenly begin to unravel all of the socialism. Instead what happens is that the slaves demand more to protect themselves from being free.
    The most difficult thing to accept is that when you teach objectivism most people will spend their time justifying their slavery, you reach very few. Trying to work within the framework of socialism simply consumes and buries the individual. At this point in human evolution still the only way to be free of the mystics is to live in Galt's Gulch, and I don't where that could be.
    Surveillance societies are developing across the globe and much of it is being supplied by China. Third world countries that had some hope of an individual at least being unobserved are quickly buying and implementing systems for the auspicious use to protect the public while giving the particular government the ability to monitor and control the behavior of their subjects.
    If your objective is to discuss philosophy to refine and define your goals and your life there is some of that here.
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  • Posted by  $  blarman 5 months, 3 weeks ago
    I've been a paid member of this site for six years now (wow - didn't realize it was that long) and we've already done most of the book numerous times, so most people are looking for fresh material. You are certainly welcome to add your thoughts - just don't be too surprised if what you present isn't necessarily "novel". ;) (pun intended)

    Politics is the expression of philosophy. The reason it comes up so often is because it is fresh material to analyze. It is always interesting to compare what happened in the book to what is happening in our world today, but of more import are the actual philosophical discussions. Yes, we love to poke fun at the absurd in politics - because everyone needs a break now and then - but I think if you look at some of the historical posts, we get into it here.
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    • Posted by 5 months, 3 weeks ago
      Did you look at the link? If you could show me anything similar to it which was ever written here in the past, I would appreciate it.
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      • Posted by  $  blarman 5 months, 3 weeks ago
        I looked at it, saw the length, looked at my time constraints, and decided...

        ... there is far too much there to cover in a single discussion thread. I applaud you for the obvious amount of effort which went into that post, I'd just recommend that you chop it up into bite-size pieces built around individual concepts for discussion here.
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