Saturday, November 9, 2013

Great passage from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged

I've been greatly enjoying Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged (1957, Dutton, New York). For an amateur philosopher, she sure does an admirable job of skewering the sacrificial underpinnings of Christianity. While I'm not exactly getting ready to jump on her libertarian bandwagon (or would it be plunging into the abyss?), she certainly raises some intriguing questions about assumptions that almost all of us take for granted. For example, Rand would argue (and I tend to agree) that there is no such thing as selfless charity. She also has an interesting way of highlighting the negating nature of theism in the speech by her character John Galt:

"[Theists] claim that they perceive a mode of being superior to your existence on earth. The mystics of spirit call it 'another dimension', which consists of denying dimensions. .... To exist is to possess identity. What identity are they able to give to their superior realm? They keep telling you what is not, but never tell you what is. All their identifications consist of negating: God is that which no human mind can know, they say - and proceed to demand that you consider it knowledge - God is non-man, heaven is non-earth, soul is non-body, virtue is non-profit, A is non-A, perception is non-sensory, knowledge is non-reason. Their definitions are not acts of defining, but of wiping out" (Atlas Shrugged, ibid at page 1035). 


  1. Hi TAM,

    I read it a few decades ago, and got a lot out of it at the time. It seems she polarises people. I saw a documentary on her recently, which was effectively a collection of interviews. In her own words, I think it was called, or something like that.

    Regards, Paul.

  2. See

    He has long list (many posts) of the immoral things in that book.
    And some just plain silly stuff too.


    Wrong copy paste!

  4. Thanks Jim. I also recommend this NYT article for anyone too drunk on the Rand Kool-Aid:

  5. Duh. The term you're looking for is "apophatic".

  6. Love your blog, hate Ayn Rand :) It would be a jump into abyss for sure, but then I am a left leaning atheist.I would like to point that while all altruism is selfish, while doing good pleases us, the doers above all else, it also serves a greater good because no one exists in a vacuum. Doing good without hopes of otherworldly payback might be causing feeling of joy in the doer of good ,but the acknowledgement of the benefit to society also is a motivation behind such acts.