Vantage point

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

More Black Coffee

My old pal Hirak has made a post in response to my 'Ayn Rand as Black Coffee' post.

He seems to have misunderstood the import of what I was saying. Not his fault. Admittedly, lucidity in thought as it would be satisfactory to a third person, is not a trait that my writing displays consistently. But one day I'll get there. :)

Anyway, to clarify, I am not exactly an Ayn Rand fanatic. And I would be the last person to defend the way she lived her life. The only person to live one's life in congruence with one's philosophy (right or wrong) in my opinion has been Gandhi. But frankly, I don't see how the way she lived her life can discredit what she wrote. That's an ad hominem.

I completely agree with Hirak when he says that "Ayn Rand's philosophy is eventually mythical and full of too many big IFs and relying on too many conditions/assumptions for it to really work". He is speaking about the utilitarian value of Rand's ideas. Of course the world is not black and white.

The whole idea behind my "black coffee" post was that from a moral point of view, there is nothing wrong with Rand's philosophy. That if we did live in an ideal world where it would be possible to live by the ideals she propounds, I would like that world. The whole point behind the "black coffee" post was, that would you like to live in Rand's ideal world?

For instance, my beef with communism is not that it fails on utilitarian grounds. That of course it does. But in my opinion, it fails on moral grounds too. I would hate to live in Marx's ideal world, Lenin's ideal world, Mao's ideal world, Gandhi's ideal world or Hitler's ideal world(duh!). But I would love to live in Rand's ideal world.

So Hirak, ask yourself that question. Hypothetically, would you love living in Rand's ideal world? If yes, then there is nothing wrong with her ideas at their core, at the moral level. The problems are in the implementation.

If not, then I can completely understand your coffe love being offended by comparison with Ayn Rand. But if yes, then you are no different than me.

I am not an objectivist. Nor was I one even at 18 actually. But the core of her philosophy, that of the paramount position occupied by the individual and the sanctity of individual rights and freedom in the moral scheme of things, is what is identical to my first principles. And that is my black coffee. If it is unpalatable, it is because of the IFs thrown in by the real world, and possibly by my own inability to live life completely in congruence with my philosophy.

If there are any moral objections that Hirak has to Rand's philosophy, objections arising from his first principles, I would love to hear them. But if the objections are on a utilitarian ground, then he is preaching to the converted.