Talk:Ayn Rand/Archive 44

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Archive 43 Archive 44 Archive 45

Ayn Rand's view of

In regard to Ayn Rand's views on Kant, I have deleted the following aside comment: "...although Objectivist philosophers George Walsh[117] and Fred Seddon[118] have argued that she misinterpreted Kant and exaggerated their differences." Since this is irrelevant to Ayn Rand's own view of Kant, it should not be included. I will also note, as an addendum, that the two men referenced are not widely recognized as "Objectivists." — Preceding unsigned comment added by Andrew3024 (talkcontribs) 07:01, 1 January 2012 (UTC)

I certainly agree with not calling those men "Objectivist philosophers," since (as Andrew3024 pointed out) they are not generally regarded as such by others who definitely are Objectivists. As to Rand's views on Kant, critics who are of a "mainstream" persuasion tend to be cited by some editors, in Wikipedia articles that mention her views, as claiming that Rand misunderstood, misinterpreted, and/or distorted Kant's actual views. From my own knowledge I think she understood what Kant was saying better than most of those critics. And in general, some editors seem to think that it is important for the public to be warned off of Rand's ideas, so don't be surprised if the deleted text gets reinstated. — DAGwyn (talk) 10:10, 1 January 2012 (UTC)
Including the views of Walsh and Seddon also merely invites (or requires) a discussion of the opinion of those who do think Rand understood Kant, and this would be an unnecessary and wasteful tangent. It is all irrelevant to Rand's own view of Kant. Oolyons (talk) 20:29, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
It is not the responsibility of a Wikipedia article to discourse on every back-and-forth detail of how a given author is criticized and defended, but we should summarize the significant views, including any significant criticisms. The inclusion of a criticism does not require inclusion of a response, unless there are secondary sources of equivalent significance making the counterargument. If there are reliable secondary sources defending Rand's view of Kant, then we could summarize that fact in brief terms to go alongside the criticism, without an extended discourse about either. The criticism is presented in less than 20 words. --RL0919 (talk) 21:27, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
Right. But this is not, in my view, a "significant" criticism: both writers are still largely in agreement with most of Rand's own philosophical positions; "neo-Objectivists", we would have to say. And both writers, Seddon and (the late) Walsh, argue that Kant is arguing for a position similar to Rand's own. Wouldn't that be something important to mention, that is, if we are to include this at all? Not adding this would be a distortion of their "criticism", for what it is, don't you think? Their own work makes clear that each writer thinks extremely highly of Rand's thought generally. Oolyons (talk) 22:46, 25 January 2012 (UTC)

"Most Academics and Literary Critics"

The introductory material asserts that "reception for Rand's fiction from literary critics was largely negative, and most academics have ignored or rejected her philosophy." First, the cited source for this (Sciabarra's 'Russian Radical', page 1) does not say what is alleged here. The source says only that "academics have often dismissed" her philosophy, not that "most" do or have. The source says ~ nothing ~ about her reception from "literary critics" at all. We should stick to the source's actual assertions. Second, I have searched and been unable to find any survey of academics or literary critics about Rand's thought. In any case, none is actually cited here or contained within the cited material. I would add that the material I have found shows that the reception by contemporary critics of her work was mixed. Some extreme praise can be found in places like The New York Times Book Review (which called The Fountainhead "masterful" and Rand a writer of "great power") and from noteworthy book reviewers such as John Chamberlain (who praised Atlas Shrugged), along with high praise privately offered for specific works by the likes of H. L. Mencken (who recommended We the Living as "a really excellent piece of work"), Frank Lloyd Wright (who reported being "astonish[ed]" by Rand's "grasp" of "the ins and outs" of the profession of architecture, and who called The Fountainhead's thesis "the great one"), and Ludwig von Mises (who praised Atlas Shrugged as "a cogent analysis of the evils that plague our society".) (Berliner, Michael, ed., Letters of Ayn Rand, New York: Dutton, p. 10, 112, and, "Letter" to Rand, dated Jan. 23, 1958, quoted in Hülsmann, Jorg Guido, Mises: The Last Knight of Liberalism, 2007, Ludwig von Mises Institute, p. 996.) Numerically, the reviews seem mixed, as well. Her Broadway hit, Night of January 16th was praised by Walter Winchell, among others. Rand is reported to have been disappointed with most of the positive reviews of her work, but, nevertheless, there were a number of them. Since there are also a growing number of academics who do admire Rand, and even a growing number who identify as "Objectivists," as well as an increase in serious publications about Rand (a fact actually noted by the cited source), this should be mentioned, as well. If a credible source can be found for the original claims, that is another matter. But until then, these assertions should be removed. Oolyons (talk) 23:49, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

The cited source (C. M. Sciabarra, 'Ayn Rand: the Russian Radical', 1995) does, however, say that Rand's work "inspired passionate responses," and (on page 2) notes the "growth in Rand scholarship and influence..." These can be mentioned in a neutral way. Oolyons (talk) 00:36, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
Since just a partial list of ~ noteworthy ~ scholars and academics who have been deeply and significantly influenced by Rand includes: Allan Gotthelf, Edwin A. Locke, Harry Binswanger, Tara Smith, George Reisman, George H. Smith, David Kelley, Edith Efron, Robert Hessen, Martin Anderson, Douglas Den Uyl, Douglas Rasmussen, Tibor Machan, Andrew Bernstein and James G. Lennox, the existence of such scholars cannot be ignored. Oolyons (talk) 00:48, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
The cited source for this does not indicate the number of academics or scholars, or the group's comparative size, e.g., "small," or otherwise. The source does mention its noteworthy "growth." Why was this changed to "notable"? While it is true, it is not from the source.Oolyons (talk) 22:43, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

The problem as I see it, is that all it takes to be counted as a "scholar" is direct association with Ayn Rand. If you click on these links, you quickly find that almost every single one of them were either members of Ayn Rand's circle or part of the Objectivist movement.

You'll also find that each and every one of the article's you linked to have been beefed up and heavily inflated by none other than fellow Ayn Rand disciples to give the impression that her influence is stronger than it actually is.

-- (talk) 20:01, 20 February 2012 (UTC)

No, you're wrong. For example, Tibor Machan was no friend or student of Rand, however much his ideas are influenced by her. He associated with those hostile to Rand during her lifetime and was never part of her group. And he is among the most widely published philosophers of our time. Douglas Rasmussen and Douglas Den Uyl never knew Rand, nor were they ever part of her circle, and they, too, associated only with her enemies while Rand was alive. Yet, both of these have also been ~ profoundly ~ influenced by Rand. None of those three were ever part of the "movement," either, anymore than George H. Smith was ever part of Rand's circle or "movement." Someone like Tara Smith (no relation to the last) never knew Rand but she did study from Rand's students. And her recent work defending Rand has been published by no less than Cambridge University Press. So, no, the listed scholars are all over the map on that question. There are tenured and multiple emeritus professors listed. Someone like Allan Gotthelf is, in fact, widely recognized as one of the world's foremost authorities on Aristotle. Period. Edwin A. Locke, as well, is widely considered a leader and pioneer in his field. Martin Anderson was a chief adviser to President Ronald Reagan. So, again, no, these are serious writers with biographies that need no "beefing up."Oolyons (talk) 19:36, 22 February 2012 (UTC)

“Ayn Rand was a writer of no value whatsoever, whether aesthetic or intellectual. The Tea Party deserves her, but the rest of us do not. It is not less than obscene that any educational institution that relies even in part on public funds should ask students to consider her work. We are threatened these days by vicious mindlessness and this is one of its manifestations.” -Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of the Humanities and English at Yale University, quoted here: MBVECO (talk) 19:29, 27 February 2012 (UTC)MBVECO

One must doubt whether Bloom has the first clue about the substance of Rand's philosophy, as he's shown no evidence of it to date. He is one man, and a controversial figure himself. I have cited a number of scholars who are leaders in their fields -- and important works -- that think just the reverse. That these exist is what counts -- Rand must be treated seriously. Bertrand Russell dismissed Nietzsche as being utterly worthless and unserious, too, and I suspect Nietzsche will be remembered even longer than Bertie. And I've heard much the same about Bloom himself from some parties.Oolyons (talk) 00:41, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

The fact is, the negative major reviews of Rand's novels overwhelmed the relatively few supportive minor ones. (I looked them up decades ago.) And the academic community for several decades in fact did almost entirely disparage Objectivism, to the point of actively discouraging students from studying it and penalizing those who did. You will find practically no mention of Rand in any professional journal during that long stretch of time. Perhaps we need a better source to cite for these aspects. It is important to get this right, because the professional response to her work had a significant impact on Rand's outlook and subsequent procedures; some have called her denouncements of contemporary writing and professional philosophy "vitriolic," and it contributed to the closed nature of her circle of admirers, maybe even to the periodic fallings-out and "purges." — DAGwyn (talk) 05:50, 22 March 2012 (UTC)

Ethical and Rational Egoist

The articles on both rational egoism and ethical egoism should be linked, as both have discussions of her ideas, and she was both. Oolyons (talk) 00:52, 4 February 2012 (UTC)


Per this edit deleting a sentence to "trim", since this is not a significant trim and yet I find those words very much enlightening regarding not only her position towords kant (that to) but her attitude towards philosophy in general, so I think it's of interest to the reader and should not have been deleted. --MeUser42 (talk) 22:19, 6 April 2012 (UTC)

I humbly suggest that if you want to learn something about Rand's attitude to Kant, you look elsewhere. I stand by my removal of that content - it is sufficient to quote her calling Kant a "monster", the "most evil man in history" stuff is pandering to sensationalism and serves no useful purpose. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 23:47, 6 April 2012 (UTC)
This is indeed sensationalism, and conveys to the reader (as it did to me) valuebal information about her approach. Since this is only a few words (5), the value of the trimming for the sake of trimming is lesser, and since I found it valueble indeed, it should be left in the stable version before your edit. --MeUser42 (talk) 02:53, 7 April 2012 (UTC)
Yes, it's only a few words, but in principle it's wrong to use two quotes from Rand saying how much she hated Kant when the same point can be made with only one quotation. We should strive for economy, and excessive use of quotations makes for a poor article. Snowded has restored the "most evil man" quotation, but fortunately he has added it instead of, rather than in addition to, the other quotation. I disagree with restoring the most evil man remark, but not enough to consider it worth reverting. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 04:25, 7 April 2012 (UTC)
I’d prefer to read her objections to Kant instead of her flamboyant and hyperbolic rhetoric. Why even include “monster” unless its to ridicule her rhetoric? What’s her objection to Kant's ideas? Jason from nyc (talk) 16:15, 8 April 2012 (UTC)
It's an encyclopedia article about Rand's life and work as a whole, so any coverage of this particular should stay brief. My impression is that the "most evil man in history" quote is somewhat commonly used in secondary sources to illustrate her view of Kant, more so than "monster". But that's just an impression, not something I've seriously researched. --RL0919 (talk) 18:21, 8 April 2012 (UTC)
Deciding which quote to use should be a matter of editorial judgment; I don't think it should be decided based on which quote is more commonly used. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 21:18, 8 April 2012 (UTC)
I agree with PoC that one quote on the subject of Kant is enough. The "most evil man in history" seems the more revealing of the two (my editorial judgement :) Sunray (talk) 21:28, 8 April 2012 (UT
I'd agree if we explain what she means. The references explain her assessment. Let's add after "most evil man in history" because (in her view) Kant’s philosophy, that reality is unknowable in itself, lays the foundation for the subjectivism and relativism that followed. Then delete the rest of the line about Walsh's and Seddon's assessment of Rand's interpretation of Kant (which isn't currently stated) but leave the references to Walsh and Seddon. If one leaves only "monster" and "most evil man" it degenerates into name-calling and makes the article gossipy. Let's summarize for the reader the sources so that they don't have to read them for themselves (like I just had to). Isn't that the job of the editors? Jason from nyc (talk) 12:14, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Jason's suggestion and proposed wording. None of Rand's ideas were arbitrary; she gave explicit argumentation for virtually all of them. The article cannot repeat all the details, but it can and should suggest the main notions. — DAGwyn (talk) 07:49, 29 April 2012 (UTC)

Academic rejection

Shouldn't the introduction include some sort of information on how her works have been largely discredited, dismissed, and rejected by just about every University's philosophy department on planet earth? While I realize we cannot come right out and say it, it should be made more clear that Ayn Rand was a pseudo-philosopher, not a real one. She essentially asked academics of her time to abandon hundreds of years of philosophical progress in favor of her ideas. More specifically, she remains the only modern day thinker who failed to move beyond the rationalist/empiricist roadblock that Immanuel Kant solved in the late 1700's.

This should be in the main paragraph. I realize wikipedia has a STRONG libertarian bias, but you guys shouldn't be making it that easy to prove that claim to be undeniably true. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:51, 20 February 2012 (UTC)

Yes, although your estimate of her philosophy is irrelevant to this matter. byelf2007 (talk) 20 February 2012
Since there are "two sides to every coin," the above statement can be taken as a negative judgment on academic philosophy, rather than on Rand. Men like Arthur Schopenhauer, Karl Jaspers, Walter Kaufmann, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Søren Kierkegaard, Jean-Paul Sartre and many other creative thinkers and writers had a very low opinion about academic philosophy.Lestrade (talk) 02:13, 21 February 2012 (UTC)Lestrade
but they are all taught in major universities and including in the various academic dictionaries and encyclopaedias of philosophy. Rand is not, in fact she only appears to be taught where Randian foundations fund the position. ----Snowded TALK 04:29, 21 February 2012 (UTC)

What matters is their evaluation of academic philosophy. If academic philosophy is not thought to be a worthy source of judgment regarding ideas, then its opinion about Rand is not so important. From a certain viewpoint, many of the thousands of professors of philosophy may, themselves, be regarded as pseudo-philosophers.Lestrade (talk) 16:20, 21 February 2012 (UTC)Lestrade

However, as a matter of fact, Rand is taught at major universities and by non-Objectivsts. I was ~ required ~ to read samples of her work in both university ethics and political theory classes by hostile professors who took her seriously. Also, Rand has not been "discredited" or refuted in any way -- PhDs and professors have observed that Rand's critics seem to invariably and crudely misstate her positions whenever they attempt to take her on. Whether it's Whittaker Chambers in the 1950s, Robert Nozick in the 1970s, or Christopher Hitchens in the 2000s, Rand's critics fail to correctly state her ideas in the first instance, according to Objectivists. And they cite specifics. Some fairly simple and basic ones, too. This is also the thrust of the Objectivist critique of the recent biographies by Burns and Heller. They misrepresent her thought. Also, I am unaware of any actual survey of academics about Rand. Just guess work. In any case, the fact that most philosophers reject the ideas of, say, Leibnitz ("best of all possible worlds"), does not mean that he isn't to be treated seriously. Nor is there cause to cite such "rejection," even if such could be located, except from an overt hostility to Leibnitz. And, of course, Rand rejected and transcended empiricism and rationalism far more radically than Kant ever did. Even the critics who think Rand got Kant wrong, i.e., Seddon and Walsh, simply interpret Kant as saying pretty much what Rand said(!) Oolyons (talk) 19:29, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
At least two of the cited sources have been misrepresented. I will check on the rest as I have time. Rasmussen and Den Uyl (1984), page 36 is actually from an essay by Wallace Matson, and it only mentions Rand's own "separation from the mainstream," not the mainstream's separation from her, as it were. Also, Gottelf (2000) on page 1 says only that Rand "still gets little attention" from academics (more than a decade ago, and that decade has been significantly different), not that she has been rejected by them. This is very different, indeed. I'll keep checking, but those two citations must be removed. Oolyons (talk) 20:01, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
Interesting. I concur with Oolyons' assessments concerning article content (though I wouldn't say Rand's critics invariably misstate her positions, although it is certainly very common). byelf2007 (talk) 22 February 2012
The sources cited for an "academic rejection" of Rand's thought do not actually mention such a rejection. I've indicated (above) that both Rasumussen/Den Uyl (1984) and Gotthelf (2000) say nothing like this, but neither does Gladstein (1999), who says the opposite, and, indeed, she indicates that "assessments" of Rand's work by other writers have "grown exponentially" since Rand's death (page 2). Gladstein does say that discussions of Rand's work are usually "highly charged" (also page 2), but it mentions no rejection. I've checked all but one of the cited sources. None of them so far says anything like what is being claimed about an "academic rejection." Until specific quotations from a good source are provided, this whole sentence must be removed -- both because there is no such source so far, but also because it is inappropriately non-neutral and speculative. For example, do any such surveys actually exist?Oolyons (talk) 22:59, 4 March 2012 (UTC)

You're referring to evaluations from relative newcomers. If you had been active in, and attentive to, academia during the 1960s, by which time Rand's major ideas had all been published (except for her theory of concepts), you'd have seen a different situation from the one that we might have today.

Much of the work of professional philosophers during that time rightly should have been, but seldom was, considered unworthy of the profession. Consequently, workers in other professions generally considered contemporary philosophy as foolish and irrelevant. (Ironically, this allowed bad ideas to gain more traction than they would have if they had been taken seriously.) Just as one might reasonably consider modern physics to have taken a wrong turn along the way, leading to absurdities like "dark matter" being accepted as mainstream, Rand considered that modern philosophy had taken a wrong turn, partly by over-reverence for authority (particularly Kant), leading to bad social consequences. Over time, she cited a considerable amount of evidence in support of that notion.

Remnants of the former mainstream academic attitude are still widespread today, including much of's original posting at the top of this section. Oolyons is correct in his observation that Rand's critics have exhibited a tendency to misstate her ideas. A possible explanation might be that they are so invested in their existing world-view that their emotional response to a significant challenge to that world-view is to devise too-facile reinforcements of their existing beliefs, instead of careful consideration of the ideas. — DAGwyn (talk) 06:32, 22 March 2012 (UTC)

I feel strongly that Rand should be labelled as a pseudo-philosopher. She did not achieve a recognized status of mastery in the art of philosophy during her time, and in fact took much from Nietzsche and Aristotle, simply twisting the ideas as she saw fit. In any case, her "Objectivism" is more in line with an ideology than a philosophical system, and should be properly labelled. It is a bad equivocation to mix Rand's thoughts with true philosophy. So some changes to the article should be made. Pseudo-philosopher is one more fitting label, but "thinker" can also be used. In any case, Rand was certainly not a philosopher, and does not deserve to be credited as one. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:20, 29 March 2012 (UTC)

Your strong feelings are not relevant. Reliable sources are. This objection has been made a hundred times and has always been refuted with argumentation (not just assertions). There are many reliable sources that say Rand is a philosopher and created a philosophy. There are very few reliable sources that say Rand is not a philosopher and did not create a philosophy. If this is incorrect, you can actually make a case and not just make assertions. You also should not edit the article to correspond with your opinion on such an important matter as this without first explaining your case on talk. Byelf2007 (talk) 28 March 2012
I am going to gently remind everyone that arguing about whether Rand is or is not a philosopher leads to *madness* and ARBCOM. This has been settled, and there are extensive sources backing up the claim that she is one. TallNapoleon (talk) 16:15, 29 March 2012 (UTC)

There are no credible sources that say Rand is a philosopher. A credible source is a master in the art of philosophy. The general consensus among actual philosophers is that she is not a true philosopher. The people who claim that Rand is a philosopher have no authority. It is like saying a motorcycle is a car because a great politician or lawyer says so, when the mechanic will correctly say that the motorcycle is a motorcycle, and a car is a car. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:25, 3 April 2012 (UTC)

Terrible and unconvincing analogy. Besides, we already have this pretty well sourced. Whether you find these sources "credible" is irrelevant.--Atlan (talk) 20:43, 3 April 2012 (UTC)
TallNapoleon is right to say that in this lies madness. However Armcom did not settle the content issue or the policy issue, it managed an issue over behaviour; namely edit warring, meat puppetry etc. etc. etc.. There are clearly some sources that say she is a philosopher, but there is no mention of her as such in a large body of material where, if she was, you would expect to find it. The only wikipedia policy which comes near on this is WP:WEIGHT but the work through the list of philosophical dictionaries and encyclopaedias where she is not even named is problematic. The argument that there are few sources saying she is not a philosopher is problematic. Scientists deny creationism because it has traction in the US, NLP has sources to show it is a pseudocience because people have taken it seriously. Rand on the other hand has simply been completely and utterly ignored outside her fan base, or those universities receiving grants from foundations associated with her name. I agree the analogy is unconvincing, but so is the statement that this is well sourced. ----Snowded TALK 23:34, 3 April 2012 (UTC)
In addition to the sources cited in the article currently, she's listed in multiple reference works on philosophy, such as The Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers (Thoemmes Continuum, 2005), American Philosophers, 1950-2000 (Gale, 2003), Women Philosophers: A Bio-Critical Source Book (Greenwood, 1989). Then there are other types of sources, such as the multiple recent biographies that call her a philosopher. Are there sources where she isn't mentioned or isn't called a philosopher? Definitely. But neglect is not denial, and denial is what is needed to counterbalance the existence of multiple positive sources. This has always been the problem for those who want preclude use of the term. Academic sources just aren't doing this. If you dive into middlebrow commercial sources, such as magazine articles, you can find an occasional explicit denial. But any such finds would be balanced against the hundreds of similar-quality sources that casually refer to Rand as a philosopher, including a number of highly critical works that preclude any argument that only "fans" are referencing her as such. --RL0919 (talk) 02:21, 4 April 2012 (UTC)
As I say its an issue for wikipedia policy, in this case I think neglect is de facto denial per my argument above. To ask a serious philosopher to write an article saying she isn't, when few if any take her as one is asking a lot. Given her claims one would expect biographies, but when I last checked none of the major international dictionaries or encyclopaedias of philosophy list her (I think there is one online US one which also has articles authored by champions - i.e. free format contribution rather than considered). Now they do list minor and controversial figures. I'd be interested to see the text of the Routledge reference by the way. I did check that along with others a few years ago and accept that it may have changed. So yes there are some references, but not many and not where you would expect them to be. The policy issue around this affects a lot of fringe issues and its a gap in policy. Under one interpretation she is simply because she is called that in some reliable sources. In another interpretation the fact that she isn't mentioned where she should be is also significant. While I think we may have to live with the former interpretation I am not prepared to simply let the statement by Atlan above stand without some rebuttal.----Snowded TALK 09:15, 4 April 2012 (UTC)
Likewise the idea that she "does not appear where you would expect her to" (ie, in encyclopaedias of philosophy, or in encyclopaedias as "a philosopher") needs some rebuttal. Routelege is viewable on gBooks, but there's also Britannica, Stanford, Oregon State and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (this is probably the one you mention above - I don't know much about it but it "seems legit" - ie, it claims to be peer reviewed and the editors are the heads of philosophy at UT and California State; has spawned the usual conga-line of left wing bloggers outraged that it considers Rand a "philosopher", but as discussed at great length above, that's generally to be expected). Presumably this won't end the madness, but it should get the statement pretty comprehensively past any objections on the basis of WP:V, WP:RS or WP:REDFLAG.--Yeti Hunter (talk) 10:12, 4 April 2012 (UTC)
I'm dubious about the Internet Encyclopedia, as far as I can see they in effect take essays rather than taking an editorial approach and to some extend that is true of the Stnford one (look at the credits at the bottom). Routelege also seems multi-authored but I would accept that as one. I don't see her in Oxford or Cambridge published books, or in the various histories of political philosophy I have on my shelves. Any recognition of her is very very US centric and a minority even there. As I said above I think this is a policy issue and I remain disappointed that Arbcom did not take it up. The way things work any reference is enough. ----Snowded TALK 09:29, 6 April 2012 (UTC)
I think it's worth noting that the issue of whether Rand is mentioned in works of reference on philosophy doesn't in itself settle the question of whether she is a philosopher or not. The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy edited by Thomas Mautner has an entry on Rand, but it's short and very negative: "American writer of Russian origin. Her so-called philosophy of objectivism condemns altruism and extols selfishness and individual achievement." That could be read as a denial that Rand is a philosopher, although it's not 100% explicit about it. I personally think Rand is a philosopher, but if there are reliable sources that say otherwise, it should be fine to quote them. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 19:58, 6 April 2012 (UTC)
The 2005 Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (take note Snowded, Oxford!) has a similarly dismissive entry referring to her "extreme and simplistic views" (which they nonetheless call her "philosophy"). But again no explicit denial that she was a philosopher. I suspect such denials would be more forthcoming if academics could agree upon criteria for being a "philosopher" that would exclude Rand without also pushing out Arendt, Camus, Emerson, Nietzsche, and/or assorted ancients. --RL0919 (talk) 22:40, 6 April 2012 (UTC)
Just checked and she is not in my 1996 edition or in the more recent Oxford Companion to Philosophy (2005) while all of those you name appear without similar qualification. The entry in that later volume for Objectivism just contrasts it with Subjectivism and makes no mention. I 'd be interested to check the reasons for inclusion in the 2005 edition - was that edited by Simon B as before? Again however it shows the pattern, any serious acknowledgement is grudging at best and we need to make sure that is properly covered in the article. ----Snowded TALK 02:41, 7 April 2012 (UTC)
I think you mistook my point, which was (for once) about the outside world, not Wikipedia. If someone writing in a peer-reviewed source were to explicitly say that Rand is not a philosopher, they would be challenged to present criteria for applying the title. Criteria that would exclude Rand (beyond purely subjective ones) would likely be controversial because they would exclude one or more others who are widely accepted as philosophers. So they don't go down that path. That's my suspicion, anyway. But coming back to Wikipedia, to say that sources are "grudging at best" when they call her a philosopher, we would need sources that say this, not the interpretations of WP editors. --RL0919 (talk) 18:16, 8 April 2012 (UTC)

None of the sources which claim her to be a philosopher are in any way authoritative. People fail to see author bias in the very specific examples chosen. Also, various collections and databases may refer to her as a philosopher, but again, the general philosophic community does not accept her as one. The only people giving her the title of philosopher are the fans, those paid off by the followers of Rand, and the casual professors who hold no real authority in the world of philosophy. Give her all her other achievements, we don't care about those; but Ayn Rand certainly deserves no place in the world of philosophy. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:44, 5 April 2012 (UTC)

Once again, in your opinion. On the other side we have close to a dozen RSs, which you dismiss as fan pieces. You may not like her philosophy; is it really a smart move to try to declare that it isn't one?--Yeti Hunter (talk) 02:22, 5 April 2012 (UTC)
As an aside I'm going to bet dollars to donuts that our anonymous interlocutor is our old friend Edward Nilges, aka banned user User:Spinoza1111. If you are Edward, please, leave us in peace. If you aren't, you have my sincerest apologies, though I do recommend registering for an account. TallNapoleon (talk) 03:11, 6 April 2012 (UTC)
As has been seen recently in some edits that have been reverted, Edward signs his commentary, so I think it is safe to say our IP above is not him. --RL0919 (talk) 16:16, 15 May 2012 (UTC)

Not that I expect this to make much of a difference, as I am sure the people running this show are die-hard supporters of Rand, but after much digging, I was able to find specific examples of a renowned professor of philosophy denouncing Rand to a degree. The problem with finding even the minute scraps of denouncement is that Rand is not taken seriously by the greater philosophic community, so no philosopher has yet written anything specifically rejecting her. She is typically rejected by default among real philosophers. In any case, the bit of verifiable and real rejection comes from Louis Pojman, in his book "Ethics: discovering right and wrong, 6th edition" on pages 90-91. If any other philosopher chooses to write more about Rand, I shall bring up the new evidence. I am attempting even now to get more professional philosophers to write about their thoughts on this question. When her writing first came out, it was considered quite bad and was almost universally rejected, which should have been a good indicator that she was not a philosopher. More recently, people discovered her work and began labeling her as such, despite no such acceptance in the philosophic community. I believe her initial rejection should have been enough, but now it has gotten to the point where the pros should really get involved. If I can get some of the top philosophers out there to write about her, and if they choose to write favorably about her, then I will drop my opinion and accept her as a philosopher. Furthermore, if such approval happens, then this debate will finally be truly over, and she can unequivocally be counted as a philosopher. A lot of "ifs," but the only way to settle this. Would this be acceptable to the Objectivists out there? And no, I am not this Edward character. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:49, 9 April 2012‎

One negative doesn't eliminate the positives. However it does verify the opposition to her being labelled a philosopher. To include this as a particular criticism of Rand is about as far as you could go with that ref, or indeed if any more "top philosophers" added their name to a similar statement.--Yeti Hunter (talk) 14:47, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
Except Pojman doesn't say Rand isn't a philosopher. Rather, he criticizes her ethical theory. There are two different questions here: 1) whether philosophers have criticized Rands ideas, and 2) whether they have denied that she deserves the label 'philosopher'. The first is definitely true and provable from reliable sources. The main issues on that front are how much criticism to include here vs. the Objectivism (Ayn Rand) article, and which examples. Add Pojman to the list of possibilities. The second is what has been disputed in the last several paragraphs above, and unfortunately Pojman doesn't add anything new there. --RL0919 (talk) 22:55, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
The question of whether Ayn Rand should be called a "philosopher" has come up repeatedly. Many years ago, I cited standard dictionary definitions of "philosopher", and Rand certainly fit several of the alternative meanings. There is no question that she was not considered a "worthy peer" by the majority of contemporary professional academic philosophers; however, that is not required by most of the common usages of the word. (We could also discuss the policy of marginalizing Rand's ideas by that profession; whereas Rand gave detailed argumentation for her philosophical positions, the professional mainstream not only failed to refute them on a reasoned basis, but also actively tried to suppress them. One method was simply to pretend that the alternative ideas were unimportant; another was to ridicule and lambast anybody who even mentioned Rand in classrooms. It is not too surprising when you consider that Rand made it clear that she thought the professional philosophic mainstream was not just wrong but had, largely, malevolently chosen to be so. Under such circumstances, their opinion of Rand is suspect.) Rand was certainly a "philosopher" according to the dictionary definition, just as somebody working on a fundamental theory of physics other than string theory is a "physicist" even if the professional academic mainstream doesn't accept what they are doing. — DAGwyn (talk) 07:46, 29 April 2012 (UTC)

It would be inaccurate to say she was an academic philosopher. Completely accurate and obvious to say she was a philosopher. Of course unlike many academic philosophers she made a living from people literally buying her ideas.

Why should a "Libertarian bias" matter since Rand rejected Libertarianism?TheJazzFan (talk) 10:29, 3 June 2012 (UTC)

Did Rand Collect Social Security or Welfare?

I've read several places on the Internet that author Scott McConnel claims in his book "100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand" that Rand collected Social Security or Welfare or both to pay for lung sugery. McConnel quotes Eva Pryor, a consultant for Rand's law firm, as saying she helped Rand acquire the assistance under an assumed name (Ann O'Connor). However none of the websites seem reputable and none provide page numbers. Is there any truth to this? Can anybody shed some light? Blue Eagle 21063 (talk) 22:45, 8 April 2012 (UTC)

Some of it is true. The book is a collection of interviews, so McConnell doesn't claim anything directly about this, but Eva Pryor was one of the interviewees. Pryor says she was dispatched by Rand's lawyers to talk to Rand about signing up for Social Security and Medicare benefits. Rand wasn't going to apply, but "after several meetings and arguments" she gave Pryor power of attorney and Pryor did the rest. Pryor says this was in 1976, over a year after Rand's lung surgery, so it wouldn't have been paying for that. There is nothing in the interview about an assumed name. ("Ayn Rand" is a pen name. Another interviewee from the law firm says elsewhere in the book that her legal name was Alice O'Connor.) As far as I can tell, most commentaries about this are based on one article that contained several inaccuracies, which they repeat without even looking at the book, hence the lack of specific references. HTH --RL0919 (talk) 23:40, 8 April 2012 (UTC)
So why isn't this information in this article? It seems significant given that Rand spoke out adamantly against government assistance. Blue Eagle 21063 (talk) 15:19, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
The appropriateness of including this was covered in detail in previous discussions. The short version is that most reliable biographies of Rand don't mention this at all, and the few that do mention it briefly don't treat it as a point of criticism. So in keeping with Wikipedia policy, the article follows their lead. What topics are popular with bloggers does not dictate our article content. --RL0919 (talk) 23:08, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
I checked my local library's website and the book is there. I'm going to borrow to see if these information is actually included. I also found a Huffington post article citing this information ( Those are not blogging fads. What objections would you (RL0919)or other editors have if the information is included and properly attributed to these sources? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Blue Eagle 21063 (talkcontribs) 14:13, 12 April 2012 (UTC)

O'Connor was, indeed, her legal last name - so that part is trivia. Wikipedia does not make a point of examining doctor bills, and unless reliable sources make a claim, and only to the extent that a claim about Rand is made and with due weight, would this article contain such stuff. Wikipedia does not use bloggers and their interesting viewpoints as a source. Cheers. Collect (talk) 15:13, 12 April 2012 (UTC)

The Huffington Post article is a polemical piece so it doesn't really count. I think its very relevant, but it would have to be a reliable source. As I remember its only started to come into conversations recently. Gary Weiss in Ayn Rand Nation p61-62 makes the point explicitly, and critically "Reality had intruded on her ideological pipedreams" is one phrase. Happy to provide the full text if people want, but it is I think enough to include it. ----Snowded TALK 18:24, 12 April 2012 (UTC)
To user:Collect: Why don't you view Scott McConnel and the "Huffington Post" as reliable sources? To user:Snowded: Please provide the full text you found in "Ayn Rand Nation". Blue Eagle 21063 (talk) 19:36, 12 April 2012 (UTC)
Done, if anyone else wants it email me. Wikipedia blocks the sites I use for file sharing ----Snowded TALK 05:46, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
Rumor has it that Rand walked on city streets. Is there a reliable source that can confirm this, too? Jason from nyc (talk) 12:49, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
She sent letters through the post office as well, and even collected government-issued stamps. And yes that can be confirmed with reliable sources. The real issue isn't whether it is true (at least some of the basic facts), but whether it is significant enough to include in an encyclopedia article. "Retired woman signs up for social insurance program" is on par with "dog bites mailman", so just saying "Rand signed up for Social Security and Medicare" would be a strange thing to include. What makes people interested is the associated criticism. But there are a lot of critical things said about Rand, so in the world of possible criticisms that could be in the article, I'm don't see how something that is only mentioned in one book and a couple of marginal op-eds is even on the radar. --RL0919 (talk) 17:33, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
Registering for health care is a different order of magnitude from using stamps. The source I mentioned is very clear that the implications are that what she advocated in theory she was not prepared to carry out in practice. The book is a reliable source, its a matter of finding the right wording. ----Snowded TALK 18:01, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
I know what the criticism is. It's wrong (she explicitly advocated accepting benefits if you had paid for them with taxes, so was doing what she said), but a criticism needn't be valid to be included. Rather, my point is that if we include everything about Rand that is in a reliable source, this will be the longest encyclopedia article ever created. There must be some criteria beyond the bare minimum of being in one RS. --RL0919 (talk) 18:43, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
I’m not sure there is any figure on the libertarian-right or among Objectivists who argues that boycotting the state would make it wither away (with perhaps the single exception of Samuel Konkin). Those that oppose government funding of certain services advocate changing the law through the ballot box--not by self-denial (especially if one’s been taxed). Rand had lived in Soviet Russia and yes she used government services. I guess by Snowed’s logic anyone who lived in the USSR and opposed communism must have been a hypocrite. Jason from nyc (talk) 01:27, 15 April 2012 (UTC)

Rand accepted Medicare as well as Social Security. Medicare is a form of government assistance. That's a significant departure from her life philosopy. It also demonstrates the impractical nature of her philosophy because even she couldn't follow it. I'm sorry but that's BIG and it comes from a reliable source. Blue Eagle 21063 (talk) 01:41, 14 April 2012 (UTC)

It's big in your opinion. But the proper way to edit an article is not to cherry pick a rare source that states what you agree with, but rather to summarize the points that are commonly made across the reliable sources (preferably the best quality of sources as well, if there is a variety available). If it becomes standard for biographies of Rand to dwell on this "significant departure", then it would be appropriate to mention, just as the article discusses other issues that some would rather bury, such as her affair and her amphetamine use. But that isn't the case to date for this particular tidbit. --RL0919 (talk) 04:29, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
And its small in your opinion. Now can we move on from silly comparisons and discuss the issue. Weiss is a significant author and his book one of the few to reflect on Rand's overall influence and position rather than being a biog. The source explicitly makes the point that her philosophy was not borne our in practice when she faced hard choices. There is no wikipedia requirement to have something appear in multiple sources over time to be relevant; this is especially so as this issue has only recently gained currency. A simple phrase to the effect that she did register, and add commentary (Weiss has argued ...) would seem reasonable. ----Snowded TALK 08:56, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
RL0919: Your arguments for keeping this informaiton out of the article strike me as specious. Once I get my copy of "100 Voices" I'm going to edit the article to point out Rand received Medicare and Social Security. However, I'll be careful to attribute it to Scott McConnel. I'm curious to see how this plays out. Blue Eagle 21063 (talk) 13:53, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
Snowded, in a thread above you have argued that it might be undue weight to use a single word ('philosopher') to describe Rand, even though there are dozens of reliable sources that do this, including a number of peer-reviewed scholarly works. But in this thread you seem to be supporting the inclusion of multiple sentences to convey a criticism found in a much smaller number of sources of lower quality. I'm curious to understand how you reconcile these two positions. --RL0919 (talk) 18:43, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
The question of if she is or is not a philosopher has been around for a long time and you would expect here to be so designated in any major encyclopaedia etc. which she is not, that as I said is an issue of Wikipedia policy. As it happens, as as you have relied on, Wikipedia policy does not allow that sort of issue to be taken into account as it does not deal with negative evidence seeing that as original research. So on policy ground your unwillingness to see a reference to her evident hypocrisy does that stand. That aside, this issue has only recently emerged as an issue and I have referenced one of the first commentaries to pick up on it. Its properly sourced and relevant. ----Snowded TALK 05:28, 15 April 2012 (UTC)
That Rand applied for Social Security has been sourceable since at least 2004. What is new is the criticism based on it. In the circumstances, to be "one of the first" reliable sources raising this criticism really means "one of the only" -- any thought that this will become commonly discussed in future sources is just speculation. We work with the sources that exist in the present. The question of due weight applies here, just as you have raised it regarding the "philosopher" question. The difference between the two situations is simple: there are a bunch of reliable sources that call Rand a philosopher (I can cite over a dozen without breaking a sweat), including articles in respected newspapers, peer-reviewed academic books, encyclopedias, etc. In contrast, the reliable sources criticizing Rand over her use of retirement benefits are one polemical book and a couple of disputably-"reliable" online opinion pieces. So the former don't suffice in your opinion, but the latter do? That seems a bit out-of-balance. --RL0919 (talk) 19:32, 15 April 2012 (UTC)
You really don't like this one do you? I've made my point on "philosopher" that I think wikipedia policy is wrong but I have to abide by it. Now get that one out of your system please. Here we have a "fact" about her life that is considered evidence of hypocrisy in a reliable source. That is more than enough for a mention in the main body of the article. The book in question is not polemical, it is a considered piece based on a fair amount to research, including interviews with some of Rand's inner circle. If there is additional material in 100 sources then we should attempt any entry based on both sources, but the one I mention is enough. If someone else doesn't get there first I will attempt to amend the article with the material this week. ----Snowded TALK 22:31, 15 April 2012 (UTC)
Not "hypocrisy" as Rand felt that if a person paid for something, they were entitled to receive it. If one pays for a lunch, it is not hypocritical to eat it. She paid all her taxes and FICA, and she was entitled to use it, even if she felt it was a bad program. I have found nothing to indicate that she felt that it was wrong to get what one had paid for. Cheers. Collect (talk) 22:44, 15 April 2012 (UTC)
I agree with RL0919 that this detail probably doesn't meet the due weight requirement. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 22:49, 15 April 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, PoC. I want to be very clear that I think editors' personal opinions about whether the criticism is valid should have little bearing on whether it is included. Rather, I'm attempting to keep some consistency around what is or isn't included. All sorts of unimportant bits have been trimmed from the article, including ones that have sourcing as good or better than this. I fail to see why standards should suddenly drop for this particular point. If more sources continue to take up discussion on this (whether critical of Rand or supportive), then eventually it should come in. But I don't see that as the current situation. --RL0919 (talk) 23:05, 15 April 2012 (UTC)
That is your interpretation of weight, its the most current reference so I think it counts. Its good to see that you agree personal opinions about whether the criticism is valid or not should not count, especially given you comments above where you defend her. That at least is progress. ----Snowded TALK 06:18, 16 April 2012 (UTC)
Many years before her death (I think it may have been at the Ford Hall Forum), I heard Rand respond to a question about the general issue: Is it appropriate to accept money from the government (for functions that are not within the proper scope of government). Rand responded that, to the extent that it was merely a repayment of funds that one had been forced to contribute, it was moral to reclaim the unjustly taken property. That is not at all the same thing as saying that the government should be paying out such monies in the first place, but so long as they are, you only harm yourself by not accepting your share. She noted that refusing to accept the payment would not have any impact on the government policy, and that one should continue arguing for a change in the policy. — DAGwyn (talk) 07:25, 29 April 2012 (UTC)

Arbitrary Break

(outdent) I'm opposed to including it; it seems like a clear violation of due weight. There are far more substantial criticisms--more to the point, criticisms frequently repeated by reliable sources--of her that belong better. At 78kb this is still a fairly long article; I don't think we need to expand it with trivia like this. TallNapoleon (talk) 07:26, 19 April 2012 (UTC)

I would agree. However, it would seem fair to have an article on the more substantial criticisms. There is talk about the lack of coverage of such criticisms in Talk:Objectivism_(Ayn_Rand). As a matter of fact the Criticism_of_Objectivism_(Ayn_Rand) redirects to the Objectivism article which doesn't do justice to the criticism. Rand is a social force and there has been no shortage of criticism over the last 60 years. Perhaps that redirect should be deactivated and a "criticism" article written. Jason from nyc (talk) 14:34, 19 April 2012 (UTC)
The normal approach would be to add the criticisms in the appropriate main subject article, and only split it off as a separate article if the amount of material was so large that the article became unwieldy. So for criticisms of her philosophy, those should primarily go into Objectivism (Ayn Rand), with a summary in the "Philosophy" section of this article. Criticisms of her personally or of her literary work would go directly into this article. A separate criticisms article doesn't seem to be appropriate at this point, and would almost certainly turn into a WP:POVFORK. --RL0919 (talk) 15:58, 19 April 2012 (UTC)
We have of course been through this before. The separate criticisms article was originally created because criticisms strewn throughout the main article obscured the explanation of what Objectivism consists of. It later got pointed back to the main article, in the process losing some of the critical text. I think in the case of highly controversial topics, a separate criticism page (or section, if there isn't a lot to say) is a good organization. Consider: should an article on, say, the Bible contain a lot of criticism by atheists etc.? One wouldn't think so.. — DAGwyn (talk) 01:35, 10 June 2012 (UTC)