Ayn Rand Philosophy: A Philosophy of Science
In the 1950s, the late Ayn Russell, who later became an American novelist, described Rand’s philosophy as “the most important book ever written about human nature.”
As Rand wrote, “In philosophy, there is no absolute truth.”
She believed that people had a right to know whether or not they were right, that they had a duty to believe that they were, and that they should strive for “the greater good.”
She wrote that, “A philosophy of science has as its object the pursuit of truth.”
But in an interview with Richard Dawkins, the founder of the world’s most widely read science magazine, Rand said, “It’s a pretty empty philosophy, for the most part.”
Rand also believed that “the best philosophy is one that is consistent with the truth, that is based on reason, and in which all the facts are equal, no matter what side of the argument you are on.”
And Rand was the first American to use the term “truth.”
Rand’s theories of science, which emphasize individual choice, individual autonomy, and scientific method, were controversial, and their influence has been greatly diminished by the rise of pseudoscience, which has grown more sophisticated and influential.
Rand’s legacy Rand’s works are still regarded with a wide range of criticism and respect, ranging from the anti-intellectualism of her father’s followers to the admiration of her followers, which ranges from the scientific denialism of paleontologist Richard Dawkins to the belief that Rand’s views on ethics, politics, and economics are so sophisticated that her theories are not really science.
But Rand’s influence is being increasingly diminished by a variety of factors.
The rise of science and technology has brought new opportunities for pseudoscientists, and the growing number of scientists and philosophers who disagree with them.
In a 2015 report, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences said that the rise in scientific understanding “has made pseudosciences more appealing than ever before.”
And there are growing numbers of philosophers and scientists who say that pseudoscepticism is no longer warranted.
As Richard Dawkins noted in a New Yorker article in 2015, pseudoskeptics “can never get their own opinions right, because no one can ever know how they think, and no one is going to tell them otherwise.”
Rand herself had a reputation for being “too smart for her own good.”
But Rand also had a very high standard for her followers.
In the early 1970s, a student asked her why Rand didn’t give up her book and go into academia.
She responded: “Because I don’t believe that the truth is self-evident, and I think that the only way we will ever discover it is by searching for it.”
Rand said she believed in “the absolute truth” but would not give up on her philosophy of the soul.
As she said in her book Atlas Shrugged: “What the philosophers have been saying is what I have been telling them for 20 years.
What they are saying is that if you believe in the absolute truth, you will never find it.”
Philosopher Daniel Dennett, who has written that Rand is the “greatest influence of my lifetime,” said in a TED talk that “she is probably the greatest influence on philosophy in the last half-century.”
He said that she believed that science “has reached a point where it can tell us something about the nature of the universe and about what it is like.”
Dennett also said that her philosophy was “absolutely true.”
Rand has often been described as a “rationalist,” and her philosophy often includes “rational ethics.”
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, this is a term for a philosophical system in which “the truth is held in constant balance with other truths and views.”
But there are serious problems with the way we define rationality.
According to Oxford University Press’s website, “rationalism is a theory of moral reasoning that rests on the principle that the way one makes a decision is a matter of judgment and that it can only be a rational decision if one accepts and respects the beliefs of others and does not make one’s own.”
In contrast, Dennett said, Rand’s philosophies “do not even have this notion of rationalism.”
For example, Rand often claimed that her beliefs were “reasoned” or “rational” because she had found them “in the minds of the people who lived before the time of reason.”
But Dennett did not think that her ideas “were ever rational.”
He wrote that Rand was “one of the great thinkers who has not found the truth in her own mind, but rather in others, who had been informed by it.”
The same is true of her philosophy, which is based “on the idea that we are all made in the image of God, and there are certain truths that we know because we are the products of the divine action.”
In a 2013 TED talk, Denny Burkett, an atheist philosopher and former head