Re: PHIL: Egoism (Was ART: What Art Is)

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Mon May 29 2000 - 23:11:51 MDT

On Monday, May 29, 2000 5:41 PM zeb haradon wrote:
> >Actually, Branden -- derived from "Ben Rand" = "son of Rand."
> This is a myth. According to him anyway ("my years with ayn rand"), the
> similarity is a coincidence.

I stand corrected!

> >As for her views on sexuality in general, I find them more a projection
> >her peculiar personality than as firmly grounded in Objectivism.
> This is one aspect of her main flaw - that to her, EVERYTHING had to be
> derived from objectivity. There was no room for subjective sexual tastes,
> even objective tastes. As a result, she insisted that her own subjective
> sexual and artistic tastes were objective, and anyone who didn't share
> is just wrong. I'm surprised that she left out tastes in food. Maybe
> someday, "The Ayn Rand cookbook" will be compiled, with an introduction by
> Leonard Peikoff, where she talks about how only second-handers and haters
> man like Italian food.

Not completely true, but mostly true. The problem then is to separate where
her views actually have a valid grounding and where they don't -- else one
winds up disregarding everything she said or wrote.

In the case of art, also, it's a little more complex than Rand merely taking
her particular likes and dislikes as objective. Anyone who has read closely
her "Art and Sense of Life" (pp34-44 of _The Romantic Manifesto_) should see
this. There, as I've stated here on this list several times in the last day
or so, she discriminates between personal responses to art and objective
evaluations of it. She uses many examples and does not expect everyone to
have the same reaction to art, even if every rational individual might have
the same evaluation -- given the same level of knowledge and intelligence --
of it.

For example, on page 43 she states: "I cannot stand Tolstoy, and reading him
was the most boring literary duty I ever had to perfrom... and yet, from a
purely literary viewpoint, on his own terms, I have to evaluate him as a
good writer." This seems to me to be a direct refutation of the notion that
she always identifies her tastes with objective evaluations in art.

Also, I should state too since this all seems to circle around Modern Art
that Rand believed it wasn't art at all. She defines art in a certain
specific way -- "a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's
metaphysical value-judgments." (p19) -- and believes Modern Art does not
fall under this definition. Rand did not argue, "I don't Modern Art, ergo
it is not art." She gives many examples of other art which she does not
like even feels revulsion for yet which she still thinks is art, such as
Naturalist fiction, Medieval sculpture, and the music of Beethoven. If she
were purely moving from her own tastes, then I think she would be more
disposed to reclassifying all of these as non-art.


Daniel Ust

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