The ideas and Philosophy of Ayn Rand are very useful tools to quickly cut through myths and find the truth. Understanding that contradictions cannot exist in reality and therefore when we find one we know that some conclusion is wrong. Also, learning to make sure we integrate all the information in our minds into one non-contradictory sum, enables us to join the dots and see where one belief contradicts another; such as claiming to value freedom and yet supporting socialism, or valuing wealth and prosperity as a means of providing us with material comforts and yet bashing capitalism as evil.
Several factors can result in people holding false convictions as truth and being happy to remain convinced of the truth even in the face of conflicting evidence. Some people cannot resist the appeal from authority and will believe things just because it comes from a particular source. Others will default to the group belief and latch on to what everyone else believes. Both of these are substitutes for thinking.
Either sloppy thinking, lack of knowledge or outright evasion of the effort leaves us at the mercy of our emotions or the ideas of other people because those are the only options left. If you add in a little well-funded propaganda plus a deeply conditioned sense of learned helplessness and you have the perfect conditions for the maintenance of popular myths that disconnect ‘believers’ from the truth.
The word “myth” is derived from the Greek word mythos, which simply means “story”. The word myth can refer to a ‘sacred story’, a ‘traditional narrative’ or a ‘tale of the gods’.
A myth is an enduring traditional cultural story believed without supporting evidence or in spite of evidence to the contrary. In the past myths have explained the existence of things or of past historical occurrences to tribes and people in the absence of scientific knowledge. The defining feature of a myth is that it cannot be considered knowledge. It is a storybook explanation without supporting evidence.
The best you can hope for with a myth is that it may contain some truth. This is characteristic of so many myths in the mainstream narrative or what I refer to as the Matrix. They contain just enough truth to look credible whilst ultimately giving the onlooker a duff steer.
The ideas of Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand was a Russian born free thinker of last century. She was born in 1905 and came to the US as a young woman to become a writer. Her radical individualism meant that staying in Russia was not an option in the context of the communism that prevailed at the time. In Hollywood, she worked her way up to become a scriptwriter and then a novelist. Interestingly, she created her own philosophy for her novels because in her view no existing philosophical school of thought was adequate to frame her stories and her vision of man as a heroic being. She named her philosophy Objectivism.
She went on the write four novels including; ‘Anthem’, ‘We the Living’, ‘The Fountainhead’ and her masterpiece ‘Atlas Shrugged’. From the 1960’s onwards she devoted her writing to her philosophy, with further works such as ‘The Virtue of Selfishness’, ‘Philosophy – who needs it?’ ‘Capitalism – the unknown ideal’, ‘A Romantic manifesto’ and much more.
The philosophy she created is controversial and it is true. It rests fundamentally on recognising that reality is what it is and cannot be changed by consciousness. It is based on the primacy of existence and recognises man as a uniquely rational animal with reason being his only guide to knowledge. and his most precious tool of survival and tool for identifying reality and therefore truth. I would strongly recommend reading her work. In my view, she is the most profoundly significant thinker/philosopher in recent history.
Yaron Brook and the Ayn Rand Institute
Yaron Brook discovered Ayn Rand as a sixteen-year-old and rose to become head of the Ayn Rand Institute which was formed in 1985. He has studied her philosophy for many years and travelled extensively promoting and spreading it in many parts of the world as well as around the United States. In the Podcast interview, he draws upon his massive experience and knowledge of Objectivism to help me explode some of the most fundamental and enduring myths that Ayn Rand identified. These myths are so deeply entrenched in the minds of most of us that it can be very challenging to question them.
Ayn Rand explodes the fundamental myths
If you want to bust out of the Matrix and reject the falsehoods peddled as truth in the mainstream you have to address the kinds of myths listed below and come to your own convictions by applying critical thinking. These myths are philosophical in nature and therefore they likely remain unchallenged, deep down at the root of your worldview. If you do believe in some of these myths it may be because you have never previously considered the issues, or because you have heard these things said all of your life. If you experience a noticeable resistance to challenging an idea or belief, it is very likely one you are holding on to and it is in your best interest to dig deeper rather than switch off and turn the other way.
Below are the myths that Yaron Brook addresses in the podcast using the ideas of Ayn Rand. They are difficult to order because they all inter-relate. However, in this list, I have attempted to put them into a philosophically sensible order. In the interview, we dive into Socialism and get progressively deeper.
1. The myth of subjectivism: This holds that we create our own reality, that consciousness comes first and consciousness creates matter. If it were true this would mean that everyone’s truth would be a valid as everyone else’s, and therefore that contradictions could exist, and therefore that there would be no such thing as truth.
2. Mysticism: Ayn Rand identified this as the root of it all. The battle between reason and mysticism. The myth is deeply rooted that mysticism is a valid source of information; that there is something else out there other than us, some force or source of God or ‘thing’ other than us that is superior to us.
3. Individualism: In the minds of the masses individualism is equated with selfishness which is associated with trampling over the interests of others. People tend to see it as a bad thing.
4. Altruism: Altruism is held to be the highest standard of good in sacrificing self for others. In ignorance of its full meaning and implications the masses hold altruism as good.
5. Capitalism: In spite of the facts and the mountain of evidence to the contrary the myth persists that Capitalism is evil and a tool of exploitation, that it will wreck the planet and exploit the people.
6. Socialism: The myth persists that socialism is a good solution; that it is all about being nice and helping others, taking care of people, just and fair. Yet socialism is a form of statism that holds that the individual exists to serve the community, the State.
7. Emotions: One of the most useful aspects of the thinking of Ayn Rand in my life has been the insight of the meaning of emotions. The myth has it that emotions are as valid as reason if not superior in providing us with accurate information about circumstances. Many advocate going with the heart over and above the head. When men cease to think feelings are all they have left, and this is perhaps a clue as to the desirability of clinging to this myth – of having a vested interest in believing it.
Contact Yaron Brook by visiting the Yaron Brook Show website here www.yaronbrookshow.com and please check out the Ayn Rand Institute and its amazing educational resources and courses via the link below (aynrand.org)
Books by Yaron Brook
Yaron has written 3 fantastic books. I have read only one but all three are available by following the links below:
Useful Web Sites: For your reference:
Ayn Rands Novels:
Recommended Ayn Rand Non fiction:
- For the New Intellectual: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand
- The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism
- Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
- The Romantic Manifesto: A Philosophy of Literature
- Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology
- Philosophy: Who Needs It
- The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought
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Be well, and thrive
Tree House Farm, April 2018