Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ayn Rand on Reagan

The reason for my distaste for Reagan in the role of president is the philosophy he hasn’t got. I do not mean that I disagree with his philosophy. I mean that he hasn’t any. (…) He is a pragmatist who leans to the right, which is more contradictory a position than a pragmatist who leans to the left. (…) He seems to believe that the awful, populist hodge-podge of stale patriotism and folksy sentimentality which he utters is sufficient to set this country on fire and turn it back to its original principles. Speaking of fuel shortages, no one has told him that this country is perishing from a shortage of intellectual energy, although there are no Arabs to help us out in this crisis. (…) The kind of Halloween-like creatures who are trying to take over today’s intellectual arena are not created by the Reagan administration. They exist in any period in the dark, unventillated corners of history. But in the periods of philosophical default they come crawling out into the full, open moonlight. Today they are organized under many pretentious names and slogans. The most presumptuous of the names is the Moral Majority, and the falsest of the slogans is the claim that they are pro-life. What they all have in common is that they are militant mystics who have learned to be arrogant by encountering no opposition. Their common, though unacknowledged, ideal, the embodiment of their philosophical goals is the man who has succeeded in uniting religion with politics and establishing a religious dictatorship (…) – Ayatolla Khomeini. No, the Reagan administration did not create those militant creeps but it sponsors and supports them to an embarrasing extent. (…) It is embarrasing to hear a president of the United States endorse the plain, crude, illiterate supersitions of the populists of the Middle Ages. 


Reasonsjester said...

Rand is wrong about it being irrational to protect life beginning at conception. Aristotle formulates the philosophical point in a political context:

"[When several villages are united in a single complete community, large enough to be nearly or quite self-sufficing, the state comes into existence, originating in the bare needs of life, and continuing in existence for the sake of a good life. And therefore, if the earlier forms of society are natural, so is the state,] for it is the end of them, and the nature of a thing is its end. For what each thing is when fully developed, we call its nature, whether we are speaking of a man, a horse, or a family. Besides, the final cause and end of a thing is the best, and to be self-sufficing is the end and the best."

Of course a baby is not self-sufficing and neither is an infant or a toddler or a small child, which are all descriptions of the age of a man-in-becoming. An embryo is likewise a man-in-becoming; the mother is simply more directly nourishing of the child. The fact that the child dwells inside the mother does not make it analogous to a cancer or any other kind of neoplasm.

Again, I am not relying on any religious argument to make this point. We should be well aware that there are anti-humanists who see all mankind as a parasite upon the very earth. The opposition to this point of view must be objectivism; that man in and of itself, by its very nature, is not parasitical; and all ethics borne by humans must conform to upholding human life.

Reaganx said...

First, don't be fooled by the anti-abortion gangs. They never use reason to back up their claims. So perhaps it would be prudent to consider whether the anti-abortion crusade is based on anything rational. Of course, accusing them of ulterior motives would resemble an ad hominem argument and does not invalidate the anti-abortion position per se. But I believe you, as many conservatives, are strongly influenced by emotions in this issue. This is why analyzing "pro-lifers"' emotions would be useful for understanding the falsity of their claims and severing your emotional link to them. As consistent religionists, they DO NOT hold reason as their highest ideal. Rational arguments for or against abortion do not interest them. Their position is based solely and exclusively on barbarous religious scriptures and their faith-based metaphysics. Moreover, it is the profound HATRED OF LIFE (which makes the "pro-life" name a bit ironic) that motivates them. They seek to sacrifice an entire human lifetime for the drudgery of rearing unwanted children (I do NOT mean those actually wanted by parents) for the sole purpose of collectivist "service" to the tribe and to God. This is their real motivation. It has nothing to do whatsoever with reason or with individual rights, not do they mention either in their barbarous arguments.
Second, I strongly recommend listening to three audios devoted to the issue available here -
They're called The Age of Mediocrity, Cultural Update and Of Living Death. This is a detailed overview of both anti-abortionists' motivation and rational arguments for abortion. I was surprised to find that Ayn Rand voiced many arguments that I had myself thought of.
Third, it's funny you mention Aristotle because Ayn Rand covered that too. Pro-lifers' position is partially based on misunderstanding the difference between potentiality (an embryo) and actuality (a human being).

Reaganx said...

"nor do they mention either"

Reasonsjester said...

Well, religion has nothing to do with my position. When the DNA from an egg and a sperm unite, a human being results. It may be in a primitive stage, but one cannot attack my definition from the point of view of cell replication. Adult human beings grow and have cell replication, so this is an invalid line of attack. Either it is wrong to murder a human being and no rationalization stands, or it is ok under circumstances where we sympathize with the mother's plight. The situation of the mother for me does not negate that she is bearing a human being that would grow to be an adult as a result of proper nourishment and protection. I see no difference whether the child is inside or outside the mother's womb. I just see the nourishment and protection of the child to be more intimate and direct.

Reasonsjester said...

Notice that my argument dispenses with semantic arguments, rationalizations, and arbitrary temporal qualifications. It argues that a human being is what the essence of a human being is: An organism whose DNA makes it capable of growing to be a human adult under favorable conditions.