Monday, January 7, 2008

Ayn and Kant follow up

I got a couple comments on my post Ayn the closet Kantian? and realized I could have been clearer.

My point was that Rand keeps saying she is anti-Kant and he is the most evil man in the history of the world, ETC, but as Greg Nyquist in ARCHN and others pointed out, she shares a good bit of common ground with Objectivist Satan.

Philosophic thought can be divided into teleological or goal oriented/utilitarian (ie the ends justify the means), or deontological (that motives and intentions determine the morality of the action). Kant belongs in the deontological camp. Rand claims to oppose Kant, but yet emphasizes values, motives, and the necessity of living your life according to certain principles, like "reason".

As commentor Jay said:
Peikoff explicitly stated: "Virtue is not automatically rewarded, but that does not change the fact that it is rewarded."

The emphasis here is on virtue, that one must first be virtuous and subsequently one can hope to be rewarded. This fits into the deontological perspective, that the means in itself are what make an action good or bad.

And Michael Prescott said:
Well, Rand did say:"Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing but rational goals, seeks nothing but rational values and finds his joy in nothing but rational actions."

So she believes that rationality is a prerequisite to happiness, that this method of finding happiness is key, and could not accept that there may be many ways to achieve happiness. Put simply, the rationality of an action determines its worth and value, which places her alongside Kant in the deontological camp.

Rand also opposed utilitarianism, and denounced libertarianism for being utilitarian, although they were the political party most aligned and sympathetic to her views and still hold her in high esteem.

Jay also says:
Her leap of logic is that holding reason as one's absolute will, ipso facto, make you permanently happy.
That's a lie. Here's the Ayn Rand Lexicon link containing every (major) mention of reason she made in print.

I was just trying to give Rand the benefit of the doubt to redeem her non-Kantian position, by supposing that maybe she equated practicing reason with happiness, but you're the Objective boss, Jay!

Rand's philosophy therefore has little in common with the true diametric opposite of Kant's deontology, which is telelogism or utilitarianism, and she admits as much. Perhaps if took a breather from screeching from her soapbox once in a while and looked at things from a calm, rational, perspective she might have figured this one out, and reevaluated her positions accordingly.

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