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. Maybe by the end of 2023. I’m not sure. 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”: born without any innate content in our minds and without any innate emotions or instincts that might be useful, even integral, to human life. Rand’s explicit view about a person’s emotional mechanism is that it must be “programmed.” She, as such, treats the metaphysical reality of the inner world exactly as she accuses others of treating the metaphysical reality of 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 prewired, unprogrammed, natural human emotions, instincts, and archetypes (prewired, innate images already in the mind) and their role in life. The issue isn’t just that the role that archetypes, instincts, and natural emotions play in life is ignored in Objectivism. It’s that trying to directly control this natural, wild part of a human via an ethics, as Objectivism does, is toxic. 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 or 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.
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 this site, 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 it 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, but I started to doubt Objectivism in very grave seriousness some time in my late 20s. I remember crying in my bed one night, utterly 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 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 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 that you “cannot reverse cause and effect.” Instead, I now live by a philosophy that happiness is primary (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 my joy, it’s temporary. I can snap back to it 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 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 call 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 much more—about topics that properly belong to a deep study of human nature, as such, not philosophy itself. And this is essentially the problem: Rand sells you her philosophy as a mere “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 as objective, unquestioned truth—as reason itself.
The issue I write about is much broader than merely Objectivism. It is an issue about our relationship to our inner core, which is quite possibly the most important topic to human living possible. What relationship do we have to our inner core: our emotions, sense of happiness, and what brings us joy? I am going to be arguing that having a healthy relationship with this is the most important thing to you in your life. I am also going to be arguing 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.”
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 relatively modern history: we otherwise lived in 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 typically call it “political correctness.” 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 feel 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—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 thriving.
In his book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, Michael Pollan writes about “nutritionism” (the constantly changing, reductionist nutrition 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: 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 the major unexamined assumption in Objectivism: that natural emotions, instincts, and archetypes 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 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 email@example.com.