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PhilO

The message of Atlas Shrugged

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Ayn Rand said the primary purpose of her writing Atlas Shrugged was to portray her vision of the ideal man, not politics.

And a profound integration of the existential conditions required for the existence of rational men is embodied in the microcosm of the Valley. That is not a political artifice, and it is not merely a plot device. The goal of life is not philosophy: the goal of life is living, with philosophy as a critical means to that end. Without an actual physical place for men to exercise their volition freely, it doesn't matter how good their philosophy is. Fail to grasp that and you accept the mind/body dichotomy. In fact the "strikers" were preceded by decades by Prometheus leaving his little village hell in order to establish a new physical domain of freedom apart from them, other than the few that are mentioned that he will eventually extract, leaving the others behind. The common denominator from Anthem and Atlas is the same observation: the better men must eventually set themselves apart, according to reason, which can be with certainty, because they already, for whatever reason, "get it". Life is simply too short and convincing lesser and often terribly confused minds of reason is a waste of that short life. That is not separate from the issue of how ideal men should live, it goes to the core of it, and it is a huge mistake to underestimate the vision that she expressed.

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As an addendum to my remarks: one can state that the strikers in Atlas did eventually return to the world. But Rand (and logic) make it clear that it is to which they are returning, even if it is not completely explicit: it is a place where mystics and altruists have largely self-destructed, not a world in which they suddenly become capable of sustained rational thought. Most of them are *dead and gone* - leaving a freed-up world to be put to better use.

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The strike and its effect in the novel were a fictional device to show, in an accelerated time frame, the role of man's mind in his existence -- by showing what happens when it is withdrawn and by showing what was possible to man even in an elementary form in the Valley. Contrary to many who have recently discovered the novel, her primary stated purpose was to portrary the ideal man, not to advocate a strike as the means to accomplish a proper political system, and she did not write the novel to predict our demise, but rather to try to avoid it. She lived out her life to the end in New York City, watching the progressive disintegration around her like the rest of us still are, and knowing and advocating that a better philosophy is required not just for our personal lives but also for any hope of political reform making freedom to attain our potential possible.

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Phil, can you show me where Ayn Rand states that she wrote the book as a guide for one to strike? I do not think you can do so as I have read the opposite remarks from her about why she was disappointed by what some people took from the book.

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