Wednesday, November 23, 2005

It Never Ends

Back in the '80s a libertarian once told me that Leonard Peikoff was a bad Objectivist because he moved to California. His argument was that Ayn Rand thought New York City was the only place to live, therefore all Objectivists should want to live there.

The libertarian confused Ayn Rand's personal preferences with philosophic principles. Philosophy deals with broad issues that are the same throughout history -- the nature of reality, sense perception, etc. There is no philosophic principle that says one should live in New York City as opposed to California. There is no Objectivist position on this, no neo-platonist position, no linguistic analysist position.

To raise Rand's personal preferences to philosophic principles is to make her a cult leader rather than the founder of a philosophy. In my experience, libertarians and other enemies of Objectivism make this mistake more often than Objectivists do. Young Objectivists sometimes make this mistake.

I also heard back in the '80s that Objectivists shouldn't have facial hair because Ayn Rand didn't like beards. You heard a lot of weird stuff back in the day. But then, you hear a lot of weird stuff now. In an article called "Who Needs Ayn Rand?" in the September, 2005 Commentary, Algis Valiunas wrote, "The sort of child who does not play well with others, [Rand] inhabited a mental world of dreamy grandeur."

Where does Valiunas get this? Is there evidence the young Ayn Rand didn't play well with others, or is he just pulling this out of his ass?

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