The book will be The Moral Bias of Objectivism: How Moral Ideals Cloud Objectivity. You can sign up to be a beta reader if you like. I don’t know what this will be done. I want to simmer on it and make sure it is right. Come back and see updates.
The Moral Bias of Objectivism
Ayn Rand had a faulty view of human nature. Worse, she codified it into a moral-political system.
Nearly all of Objectivism is predicated on the premise that humans are “tabula rasa,” which is to say born without any innate content in our minds and without any innate emotions or instincts–not ones that matter, anyway. Rand’s explicit view about a person’s emotional mechanism is that it must be “programmed.” According to Objectivist thought, the cognitive mind tells the emotional mechanism what to do. Rand, as such, treats the metaphysics of the inner, emotional world exactly as she accuses others of treating the outer world: as wet clay to be molded.
This view of tabula rasa affects all areas of life, including relationships, education, sex, and more. Contained within are the ramifications of this view of human nature versus one that respects the the prewired, unprogrammed, natural human emotions, instincts, and archetypes and their role in life. The issue isn’t just that Objectivism ignores the role that these things play in life; it’s that trying to directly control this natural, wild part of a human via an ethics, as Objectivism does, can cause deep emotional dysregulation as well as terrible interpersonal relationships. In other words, our thoughts have consequences. We need a “scientifically” developed ethics, as Rand offers, about as much as the people in Soviet Russia needed a “scientifically” planned economy. In other words, we don’t.
Moral bias is when a moral ideal shines so bright in one’s mind that it shuts down objectivity. One cannot see the damage of their policies nor the value in competing ideas. Objectivism, which more than has a moral system and derides many other perfectly valid ideas as irrational and immoral, is more than guilty of moral bias. An effect of moral bias is that one makes judgments far too quickly. Be sure to read The Moral Bias of Objectivism: How Moral Ideals Cloud Objectivity for yourself before letting another’s judgment sour your view.
Here is a video made by me about my typical dealings with Objectivists, how they get my challenge wrong, and why not being born “blank” matters so profoundly.
I offer the Preface to The Moral Bias of Objectivism and some chapters of it, at this site. Send your friends disillusioned by the entrancing effect of Rand to ExObjectivist.com.
The Preface to The Moral Bias of Objectivism
When I discovered Ayn Rand when I was 19, I was swept away. Like so many, my first introduction to Rand came from reading The Fountainhead. In a world always telling you to blend in, I was blown away by its message to be your own person and stick to what your own mind knows to be true. I moved on quickly to Atlas Shrugged. I admit, at 19, being a bit bored by it until the sex scene around page 90 or so. I then got drawn into it and understood, perhaps crudely at the time, that it required an enormous amount of work to be a top producer and that the values that make that happen had to be protected. I understood the criticism against government intrusion into markets. I lost interest in Objectivism, the philosophy put forth by Ayn Rand, for a year or so and even became a little hostile to it before I picked her work up again. And then I devoured it. I spent most of my college years reading Ayn Rand. Most of my intellectual effort went towards understanding Objectivism, not my studies. I wrote many of my own essays about it.
As I entered the work force, I lived primarily by the set of values put forth in Objectivism. Certainly, I was a top producer. No one doubted (or doubts) my work ethic. I also had a strong ability to learn anything new, having studied the ideas in An Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology so intently. I devoured any material that taught me how to do a job, and I did the work typical of PhDs, despite not being one. I flattered myself that I was like Dagny Taggart when I ran projects competently behind the scenes. However, I was also highly judgmental, felt terrible guilt when my life wasn’t going the way I wanted it to, and cannot really say that I had internal peace.
I had on and off doubts about Objectivism all throughout my experience with it. However, I started to doubt Objectivism in very grave seriousness some time in my late 20s. I remember crying in my bed one night, distraught, knowing I was being failed by it. I knew my values were “too harsh,” and I needed “softer” ones. But what? I had no idea what books to read. None of the “I’m such an open-hearted person” people seemed to have any good advice.
I’d love to say that I thought myself out of Objectivism, but I really didn’t. I mostly hit rock bottom, and, in doing so, found better ideas. When I started to get help for specific issues I had, most of them medical, I started to improve in ways I never even thought I could. This is me in my late 20s, as a software engineer, still living as an Objectivist, and then me in my late 30s, having found better ideas.
I think the most important, fundamental difference before and after my involvement with Objectivism is that I no longer think happiness is an “achievement.” I think joy is the default. It’s the normal. Joy, health, strength, and beauty are the default. They are the springboard in life, not the end goal. We are gifted with abundance, not scarcity, at birth, which we then go do things with. I play to my strengths; I do not try purge weakness.
This is as in stark contrast to Objectivist thinking. Rand’s explicit position, as I will outline extensively in this book, is that happiness is secondary (derivative). In fact, in Objectivism, all emotions are derivative (processed). In Objectivism, it’s success first, happiness second. Rand writes, as if it is obvious fact, that happiness is an “achievement of one’s values” and you “cannot reverse cause and effect.” Instead, I now live by a philosophy that happiness is primary, which is to say, naturally given. It’s happiness first, success second. As I go about life anymore, I know joy is what should be. It’s not a carrot on a stick dangling in front of me. If something takes me from it, it’s temporary. I can snap back to my joy quickly. It is enormously powerful in promoting good mental (and, thus, physical) health, as well as promoting life success.
Why am I writing about this emotional stuff when it comes to Objectivism, a supposed mere philosophy of reason? Because Objectivism is not a mere philosophy. Objectivism acts as an entire psychology. All of Objectivism is predicated upon a certain view about the relationship between the cognitive mind and emotions—what I identify as the unchecked premise of Objectivism. Rand has definitive thoughts about what love is, what happiness is, what the role of the subconscious is, how to run your inner world, how to educate children, and more—about topics that properly belong to a deep study of human nature, not philosophy itself. And this is the essential problem: Rand sells you her philosophy as a “philosophy of reason,” happily meant for “living life on Earth,” and then insidiously signs you up for an entire psychological framework. By accepting Rand’s system as a mere philosophy of reason, you accept the risk of accepting all that she said about important psychological matters, vital to your mental and physical well-being, as objective, unquestioned truth—because they are reason itself.
The issue I write about is much broader than Objectivism. It is an issue about our relationship to our inner core, which is, I argue, quite possibly the most important topic to you in your life. What relationship do you have to your inner core: your emotions, sense of happiness, and what brings you joy? I am going to be arguing that having a healthy relationship with this is the most important thing to a person in their life and that all all-encompassing moral paradigms, by nature, strangle it. The explicit intent of any moral paradigm is to mold, alter, or as Rand directly writes, “program” a person’s emotional mechanism. Anything that tries to do this leads to emotional repression. This is if it’s the plea in communism to give up your happiness for the “greater good,” if it’s religion that tells you to give up your intuition for God, or Objectivism, which tells you to put away your “whims” for something “rational.”
The result of this manipulation of emotions is something I’ve identified as emotional desensitization. Emotional desensitization is a phenomenon in which emotions can no longer warn a person they are on a wrong track because their cognitive mind has actively decided to tell their very emotional mechanism what to do. It is a dangerous situation which leaves one stuck, as emotions can no longer do their work, which is tell us something is off. Our society is utterly plagued by this emotional desensitization. I’ll have much more to say about this and how it operates in this book.
This issue, of morality versus humanity, has been with humanity for all of recorded history. And, yes, I say versus because no moral paradigm can properly codify all that is the complexity of human nature into one system. Humans didn’t have these all-encompassing moral paradigms until, historically speaking, relatively recently. We otherwise lived in more free flowing, foraging societies. Moral paradigms didn’t really develop until humans settled into a particular area and developed a sense of land ownership itself (which has historically coincided with slavery). Moral (and legal) paradigms started when kings, who claimed to be able to speak to God, started making rules for everyone to follow—or else. Oppressive moralities had a long run with how well religion controlled people, for centuries. (I have to say: they were quite good at it—at oppressing people that is.)
However, we are far from rid of it. It’s more than still with us today. Now, we just typically call it “political correctness.” And, in recent years, this “political correctness” has grown into something far worse than just what you are allowed to say in polite society. It takes over laws and paves the way for tyranny. My argument is that until we directly confront these moral paradigms head on, we will not be free. They control humans in the most effective way possible: through our profound need to be seen as morally good and avoid shame. The inherent problem is in these moral systems themselves. I will be accusing these systems, including Objectivism, which more than has a moral system, of moral bias. Moral bias is when a moral ideal seems so mesmerizing to a person that all objectivity, compassion, sense, and empathy is lost. One cannot see the damage they are doing as they pursue their moral ideal nor the value in competing thought. It is a phenomenon that makes it nearly impossible to persuade a person out of their deeply held beliefs and stands stubbornly in the way of human progress.
In his book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, Michael Pollan writes about “nutritionism,” the constantly changing, reductionist nutritional advice doled out by the government, heavily influenced by powerful interest groups,
As the “-ism” suggests, it is not a scientific subject but an ideology. Ideologies are ways of organizing large swaths of life and experience under a set of shared but unexamined assumptions.
This could not describe ideologies themselves more perfectly: as a way of “organizing large swaths of life and experience under a set of shared but unexamined assumptions.” And this is exactly what Objectivism, an undoubted “-ism,” is. I will be discussing in this book what I identify as the major unexamined assumption in Objectivism: that natural emotions have no meaningful role in life. This is the unchecked premise of Objectivism, accepted as a near initiation rite before proceeding on to the rest of the philosophy.
I will, as such, be discussing emotions at length in this book. I will give some brief overviews of my challenge in this Preface, and then I will be backing up my assertions extensively, with quotes, in the rest of the book. If you at the outset decide that taking such a deep dive into emotions in and of itself makes me “emotional,” “irrational,” or “without any facts,” or that what Rand said is already obviously true or unworthy of checking, I’m asking you to leave. If you think that maybe this stuff matters, it’s for you that I write.
I write for anyone stuck in any moral paradigm and for anyone who thinks humanity is capable of better. But most of all I write for anyone who is like that younger version of myself, who knew Objectivism was failing them but had no idea where to turn. I can get you out of that ditch. I was there and know the way out.
- Continue with >> The Preface to The Moral Bias of Objectivism
- Jump to >> Ayn Rands Faulty View of Human Nature
- Jump to >> Objectivists, Check YOUR Premises: About Reason Itself
- Jump to >> What is Moral Bias?
Amber was an Objectivist for 10 years until she had it with the narcissistic abuse, gaslighting, and manipulation that is routinely dished out in Objectivist circles. She now exposes this narcissistic ideology parading around as freedom and happiness for what it is. The book will be The Moral Bias of Objectivism: How Moral Ideals Cloud Objectivity. Contact Amber at firstname.lastname@example.org.