Objectivism

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Wed, 2005-11-30 10:47

What is Objectivism?

Let its founder speak first. Asked to specify Objectivism's essentials standing on one foot, Ayn Rand, standing on one foot, said:

"Metaphysics: Objective Reality; Epistemology: Reason; Ethics: Self-interest; Politics: Capitalism."

Writing about this episode later, she went on to say:

"If you want this translated into simple language, it would read: 'Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed' or 'Wishing won't make it so.' 'You can't eat your cake and have it too.' 'Man is an end in himself.' 'Give me liberty or give me death.'

"If you held these concepts with total consistency, you would have a full philosophical system to guide the course of your life. But to hold them with total consistency—to understand, to define, to prove and to apply them—requires volumes of thought. Which is why philosophy cannot be discussed while standing on one foot—nor while standing on two feet on both sides of every fence. This last is the predominant philosophical position today, particularly in the field of politics."

Neither it can, and so it is.

Ayn Rand herself, relative to other philosophers, didn't write "volumes." In terms of quality and import, however, she out-wrote most of them combined and multiplied. Some philosophers (not many) had argued discretely for one or more of the above; she integrated all of it and brought esthetics into the mix as well. She argued that facts are facts; that reality is what it is, independent of our feelings or wishes; that human reason is able to grasp what it is; that reason's tools—sense-perception, concept-formation and logic—are, contrary to many philosophers, valid; that these facts have irresistible and demonstrable implications for ethics, politics, economics and art: they enjoin rational self-interest, individual liberty, capitalism and what she called "romantic realism" as part of "man's proper estate"—an "upright posture."

Along the way, she demolished several age-old dilemmas and dichotomies. She disposed of the "is/ought" dichotomy—that you can't derive values from facts—by pointing out that an entity's actions are determined by that entity's nature and that a volitional, conceptual entity such as man can appropriately derive values, by thought and choice, only from facts. She pointed out that trying to derive values from other sources—such as "divine revelation" or range-of-the-moment whims can lead only to disaster, and in so doing busted the intrinsicist/subjectivist dichotomy.

She pointed out that volition is a causal agent, and so resolved the free will/determinism controversy.

She pointed out that facts without logic are as useless as logic without facts, and so busted the rationalist/empiricist dichotomy.

She pointed out that consciousness is not rendered invalid by the fact that it has organs—that we are not deaf because we have ears that can hear—and so busted Kant's noumenal/phenomenal dichotomy.

She exposed the lethal incoherence of requiring that we must know everything in order to know anything (see modern physics).

She pointed out the logical absurdity of the traditional ethic of self-sacrifice for the sake of others—if I am here to sacrifice for you, and you are here to sacrifice for me, what good does that do either of us? What is the point? She highlighted its logical/practical effect, all too eloquently exemplified during the twentieth century in which she lived: humanity's being divided up into those who make sacrifices and those who receive them; thence, bloodbaths and concentration camps.

She pointed out the existential monstrosity of an ethic that says we should act from duty and eschew happiness. "The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live." With that, she launched a revolution.

Ayn Rand showed that we can not only contemplate the stars, but we can also reach them—in part by dispensing with the notion that we'll find a "God" there. "My philosophy, in essence" she said, "is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."

This site, SOLO—Sense of Life Objectivists—is a passionate "Amen!" to that.

Lindsay Perigo

Other articles on Objectivism by Lindsay Perigo

See here for all articles by Lindsay Perigo in the archive of the old SOLOHQ site.


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I would have

Brant Gaede's picture

I would have gotten away with it too!--if it wasn't for you and that stupid dog!

--Brant
curses!

Ah well Brant...

Olivia's picture

glad you worked it out, but all of Rosie's posts still stand intact too, so the fact that you're a little embarrassed is probably a good sign. Evil

Solved!

Brant Gaede's picture

I wasn't replying to a post by Mindy but Rosie! I used the wrong name!

--Brant
embarrassed (just to see how it feels!)

seems that Rosie no longer posts--I think she had some crazy God thing think going

Okay

Brant Gaede's picture

The posts seem to have reappeared, except the one on this thread. Must have been a temporary software glitch.

--Brant
not that I really miss her

Then

Brant Gaede's picture

Then where is her post on this thread I replied to?

--Brant

I'm afraid not Brant...

Olivia's picture

they're all still there when I click on them. Her blog entries are all there too.
You're leaping to "someone's scrubbed them off!"
Time for a lie-down perhaps?

Did you

Brant Gaede's picture

Did you click on those posts? I did and those posts are still up. Now click on her name and click on "track" and find the posts that aren't there anymore. It's true, the others aren't there any more. Someone has scrubbed them off.

--Brant

Um, Brant... scrubbed?

Olivia's picture

Type in Mindy in the SOLO search engine and all her posts come up. You're not succumbing to paranoia are ya?

She's probably off somewhere exploring the philosophical implications of misogynism. Big smile

I wonder

Brant Gaede's picture

I wonder what happened to Mindy. Most of her posts I've tried to look up have been completely scrubbed. I made a reference to something she posted on this thread, but she's not here now. Zip.

--Brant

Magnificent!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

James at his remarkable, awesome (to put that overused word to authentic use for once) KASS best, booting the rancid butt of a thoroughly evil doctrine to the other side of the moon.

We're going to put it up as a separate thread—I'm just waiting for James to quit tweaking it. Eye

Speaking of Jefferson

Chris Cathcart's picture

There's that dictum often attributed to him, "That government which governs least, governs best." There's a way that gets taken out of context and abused. As another famous American figure put the point: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds." Now apply this to how Murray Rothbard applies the "Jeffersonian dictum." Then look to see how Rand applies it, and note the differences. The dictum in its original intent abides no dichotomy between the moral and the practical, theoretical and concrete.

James

Chris Cathcart's picture

I just read part of your last posting but what I read of it was damn right on. The fact is that orthodox Christianity is as much about Western liberalism as orthodox Islam is, and we can see right in front of our faces today the effects of theocracy - the institutional implementation of orthodox religious doctrine - on the societies and polities where theocracy is established.

The current American conservative Christianist right is just way in over its head intellectually on this matter. Lockean thought derives in its essence from ancient Greek, Aristotelian thought, which is all about the unfettered use of earthly reason. The orthodox Christian tradition throws in elements of unreason, corrupting the integrity of reason, which eventually screws everything up. The issue, in short, is reason vs. unreason. Trying to tie Jeffersonian liberalism to orthodox Christianity just ain't gonna fly; it's like trying to square a circle. There's a reason the most representative of our Framers was a Deist who cut all the bullshit out of his copy of the Bible. Jefferson, in essence, is like a precursor to Rand.

Rosie

James S. Valliant's picture

In fact, the 19th Century was far, far LESS Christian than any of the previous 14 centuries had been in Europe, and I am pretty fed up with loony attempts by contemporary Christians to deny their doctrine and their history.

If Christians, in the name of their faith, did horrible things in the past, had they simply misunderstood the Bible that they were pouring over in such detail and with such devotion?

The burning of thousands and thousands at the stake for no reason OTHER THAN their heretical faith, the torturing of thousands and thousands more in order to get them to confess to any deviation from the Bible, the burning of books in the city square for being too "worldly," imprisoning scientists if they wrote something threatening to the Church's authority -- and all of it specifically, overtly and exclusively done in name of Christian "love" -- is all a matter of historical record. Can you claim that the faith bears no responsibility whatever... REALLY?!

A religion that explicitly teaches enmity to worldly knowledge and worldly philosophy, with a Christ who suggested the existence of "mysteries" to be revealed only to the select inner few, is a religion at root hostile to reason and science.

The Bible itself has witches, by the way, e.g., Saul met the powerful witch of Endor, and ghosts, and angels and demons, and demonic possession, and revelatory visions of the "levels" of heaven, and most of that other stuff you deride as "pagan." Just read the Bible's text, if you would, rather than accept what you're being falsely taught.

It's not just a crazy coincidence, of course, that Western science only got going again following the rediscovery of pre-Christian Greek ideas, starting with Aristotle's logic and climaxing in the restoration of the observational science of the ancient Ionians. Copernicus, for example, got his ideas about the earth and the sun from an ancient, pagan source, one that he suppressed upon publication.

Isn't it funny how those pagan Greeks seemed to have discovered science, but not those Divinely Chosen Jews, who, indeed, were fighting tooth and nail to keep the influence of Greek culture just as far away as possible. And, to this day, that is what Hanukkah actually celebrates.

But perhaps the most absurd example of this is the American conservative who is convinced that the U.S. Constitution and form of government are based directly on the ideas of the Judeo-Christian tradition. We are asked to believe that it took a mere 1,776 years of reading that darned Bible before any of those great and learned Christian scholars figured out its true political implications!

But scour the text of the Bible and you will not find any recommendation of political freedom or republicanism whatever. No, we are told to just "obey" the governmental "authorities" placed over us, because God has appointed them, by St. Paul himself, who likely wrote during the reign of the monster NERO! "Slaves obey your masters," St. Paul commands us in repeated passages (which were cited by slave-owners for centuries). Jesus commanded men to pay their taxes to Imperial Rome, and a Roman centurion, it seems, had more faith than any of Jesus's contemporary Jews, as Jesus himself declared. And tyrants like Louis XIV used the Bible to show that God intended a hereditary monarchy, like the line of King David. Why else would Jesus have had to be David's royal heir if this was not the divinely intended system?

Pre-Christian models of democracy from ancient Athens, and pre-Christian models of republicanism from ancient Rome -- i.e., a purely pagan tradition -- were the true models for America's Founding Fathers, who designed a state complete with two executive consuls, one with "veto" power, a Senate, a popular assembly, etc., etc. Just look at Washington, D.C.: it looks like ancient Athens or Rome, not a Gothic Cathedral, right?

What about property rights and creating wealth? Christ taught folks not to worry about what they wore, what they ate, etc., and to avoid storing up treasures here on earth. Rather, he said, attend to the Kingdom of Heaven instead. Christ taught his disciples to hold all of their property communally, that it was (at least) tricky for a rich person to get into heaven, that the "rich young man" should give up all of his property if wanted to be saved, and that poverty was even a "blessing." St. Paul held the love of money to be the root of no less than all evil. And I could go on. In short, it is socialists, not capitalists, who have the much better argument for doctrinal support in the words of the Bible.

What about basic freedoms: speech, religion, etc.? These are not to be found in the Bible, either. And, if they had been there in any way, then why was this never noticed by the Councils, saints and theologians who piously taught what they thought was good Biblical policy, century after century after century?

No, it was the horrible institution of Christian persecutions, century after century, which inspired sensitive minds to first consider the idea of freedom of conscience, and, again, only with a good deal of philosophical help from those ancient, pagan sources, from Aristotle to Cicero -- and from natural law to the experience of the Spartacus slave rebellion.

Indeed, America's Founding Fathers refused to "render unto Caesar" (even a modest tea tax) and THAT was the very basis for their refusal to obey the "authorities placed over them by God," in direct disobedience to St. Paul. Many of those Framers thought slavery was evil, too, and it was this belief that provided the basis (e.g., see the Gettysburg Address) for later abolishing it. These men were not "peace makers" but war makers. They battled, not praised, the Imperial "centurions" of their own time. And they were not "meek" about it, either.

The principal author of America's Declaration of Independence, Jefferson, cut the miracles out of his own translation of the New Testament, and the author of the most popular and persuasive political text of the age, Paine, was an even more severe critic of the Bible, and an atheist. Ben Franklin was an Enlightenment scientist. American Founders taught that the pursuit of personal happiness and material wealth were virtuous.

Sexual repression is one the great legacies of Christianity, of course, but contemporary Christians have rewritten the text and their history here, too. Jesus praises those who "become eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake," and St. Paul advised celibacy for any Christian who could handle it (like himself). For the birth of Jesus to be "sinless" his mother must have been a virgin. Monastic and priestly vows of celibacy are well grounded in Biblical text. (Just as vows of poverty are.) And, of course, simply "lusting in your heart" (along with other thought crimes) is itself a sin! Now, where is all the contemporary blather about sex being "holy" in the actual text? Answer: it ain't there.

Only the most incredible game of mental Twister has converted in people's minds the New Testament into saying anything positive about sex whatever.

Racism has its Biblical authority, as well. Jews were to keep themselves racially pure as any reader of Ezra becomes oppressively aware. The very idea that God had a Chosen People, if even only a temporary basis, is racist, and, thus, so is the Mosaic Law. And when those Chosen had killed their own messiah, as the NT asks us to believe, Christians then took to abusing them on the same racial basis.

The 19th Century which Rand praised actually begat many of the greatest threats to established religious opinion, certainly many of the greatest since the advent of Christianity itself: Darwin and evolution, women's rights, Biblical "form criticism," the discovery of a prehistoric world that long predated the generational calculations of the Old Testament, etc., etc., not to mention material comfort of the sort despised by Christ.

The Christian faith is founded on the older Jewish faith, and it was a savage one. A religion that sought racial purity once upon a time, one that fought any injection of that scientific, Hellenistic culture just as hard as it could, one that hoped for a monarch from their ancient line of hereditary kings, and one that slaughtered animals in order to appease their God (when its temple stood), like most of the other ancient faiths. And, before that, again, like other faiths, it almost certainly practiced human sacrifice. (Why should God have had to tell Abraham NOT to kill little boys,if the killing of little boys was not happening?) The Old Testament God also favored genocide on occasion, telling King Saul to slaughter the Amalekites, all the men, women, children, slaves, and even animals(!) When Saul failed to slaughter every living Amalekite and Amalekite beast, this was a sin of such magnitude that God took the throne away from Saul, and gave it to David, Saul's rival, and to David's descendants, like Jesus himself.

Thus, Jesus's ancestors owe their royal status to the fact that David's predecessor was not as assiduous in his genocide as God would've wanted!

Christians will often suggest that it was Moses who invented laws against murder, theft and perjury (see DeMille's intro to The Ten Commandments), when most other ancients also had forbidden these things, of course. They make it sound as if Jesus actually invented the Golden Rule, when others had stated it well before his alleged birth. They make it seem as if Jesus even invented love and compassion, when, of course, the models for this also long pre-dated Christianity.

No, Jesus did give us the concept of forgiveness which would permit eternal rewards for murders and despots who simply accepted him in their "hearts," and one that condemned to eternal punishment good people who had simply failed to accept a certain belief. Yes, we have a gun to our heads, it seems, just as Jesus declared repeatedly, for we must believe or be condemned to "the lake of eternal fire," and, as St,. Paul told us, "good works" will never earn you place in heaven. It simply cannot be earned by sinners such as we.

And, why? Adam and Eve sinned. Thus, all of their descendants, all of us, apparently DESERVE to die -- no, we deserve eternal torture -- because of the sin of distant ancestors. Sound fair? Okay, we get blamed for the sins of our distant ancestors, but, just as bad, our only hope is in the sacrifice of someone else, too.

Adam sins, you get punished. Jesus dies, you (might) get saved. Ask yourself what YOU did to merit forgiveness, or what YOU did deserve eternal torture, and you're barking up the wrong tree -- YOU don't matter. God is angered. God is appeased. (And like the common ancient practice of human and animal sacrifice, apparently it requires blood-sacrifice to appease this angry God, the mere belief in which conditions our salvation.)

No, your only role is to deny your own judgment and to accept without evidence, proof or logic, the epistemological blackmail offered. Believe or be condemned to eternal torments. (Nice set up for a religious faith, right?) And don't tell me that Catholics are any different from others here, for Purgatory itself is open only to believers in good standing, as well.

Your own eyes, your own mind, your own reasons do not matter, and the only basis for belief that we are given is the threat of damnation, pure and simple. You will search the Bible in vain for any Thomistic arguments for the existence of God, for there are none. And with or without them, one is expected to believe or be damned for all time.

Doesn't all of that sound fair and compassionate?

Christianity codifies a virulent hatred of life on earth every bit as savage as any other faith in history. Fortunately, this faith significantly and substantially WEAKENED in the Enlightenment long enough for political freedom to be born and for science and industry to gain a foothold. Both science and freedom came about among European Christians DESPITE the best efforts of pious Christians to prevent their development, and only on a foundation of pagan, pre-Christian ideas, and with conservative Christians fighting each and every step of the way.

Mindy

Brant Gaede's picture

Rand was referring to a European trip she took with her family in 1914, not Russia.

--Brant

Jeff

Rosie's picture

Better to be entertained than bored I guess... Smiling

But why do you say:

"Making it up as she goes along. This really old book from a Middle Eastern desert says so."

Sharon just asked me how I knew that something written in the Bible was metaphorical. We were talking about the Bible and the answer is within the Bible and also within the context of history! Not making it up as I go along....gah!

The treatise is coming on. I have been distracted over the last week. Some of us have to leave the computer from time to time!

My friend has also had to do some work! But he is spot on. I hope he will answer you lengthily as he speaks to me. The problem he has is similar to the problem I have. No one seems to know the full background or even the basics of the subject....and it takes so long to write it all down.... Sad

More of the Same

Jeff Perren's picture

Classic. Making it up as she goes along. This really old book from a Middle Eastern desert says so. And that's as solid as the confidence one has in making it through the day safely in a modern civilization.

Terrific entertainment.

By the way, how's that treatise filled with rational arguments coming, Mr. Purchas? You might hurry it along by publishing what you have, ignoring any responses until you have the rest finished, so as not to get distracted.

While you're at it, you might nudge your friend to cough up a few pearls about ethical intuitionism.

Sharon

Rosie's picture

Just how is it known to be metaphorical?

Because Jesus describes it thus in the NT.

Fire is used as a metaphor for God's presence. He sits on a throne from which streams a river of fire...he appears before Moses in the burning bush...throughout the Bible fire is used to symbolise the power of God and his Judgement. You therefore have to read the whole thing to know what is meant and from when and where. Not just a little verse from a chapter. Someone wrote a whole lot of two-line verses a while back - all ridiculous on the face of it - but absolutely brilliant if the person only knew a bit more about what it meant. I was going to go through them but too many. Sad though because it is all very interesting and clever and it is just flying over people's heads because of their attitude. I sympathise though because I know the attitude. I had it myself for many a long year. Now I laugh at myself and the way I was. It is the perfect illustration of pride.

Ross

Rosie's picture

Come, come. Liberace's wardrobe is not nearly so dreary!

And Faith is everywhere without her handmaiden, force. The minute you step outside the house you have faith that you aren't to be shot, abused, struck down etc. When you drive on the roads you take a great leap of faith that the other drivers will keep on "their" side. When I attend the Slayer concert (as I am expected to do in October...yes! ) there is faith that my ear plugs will not be ripped from my ears or that I won't be stabbed by some black-singleted, nose-and-tongue-studded friend I haven't yet met!

I take your point but I would challenge the fascists, communists, and socialists to agree that their beliefs were reliant on faith alone. Christianity too is not reliant on faith alone.

Force is not the handmaiden of faith. Force is the handmaiden of tyranny, despotism and the like.

Rosie

sharon's picture

"Although the Biblical descriptions of hell are stated in very physical and literal terms - it is metaphorical to illustrate the torment of separation from God and goodness."

And the classic metaphorical answer arrives just in time. Just how is it known to be metaphorical? Anyway, torment is the key word here. Maybe that is the point.

Sharon

Rosie's picture

Although the Biblical descriptions of hell are stated in very physical and literal terms - it is metaphorical to illustrate the torment of separation from God and goodness; to be at enmity with all around you and also with yourself. The worm and fire analogies were used to explain what hell would be like since outside the towns were pits where the criminals were thrown and burnt. Worms ate them, fires were used to burn etc. see the Valley of Hinnom/Gehenna outside Jerusalem. It was "the pits" to end up there.

Kasper

Rosie's picture

As a child, I saw a glimpse of the pre-World War One world, the last afterglow of the most radiant cultural atmosphere in human history. If one has glimpsed that kind of art--and wider: the possibility of that kind of culture--one is unable to be satisfied with anything less. Ayn Rand (first sentence of the quote)

I think Ayn Rand may have been talking about Russia not the USA. I believe she was born and lived in St Petersburg for about 21 years before she came to the USA. The society at that time and beforehand (she talks about her childhood being in the afterglow of a great time) was a bit like the UK. A czar, aristocracy, peasants, not much of a middle class, emerging new forms of literature, music, art, etc. There was a minor revolution in 1905, strikes and uprisings from the working classes, terrorism and terrible hangings for a few years until order was restored with an autocracy. Up until 1917 that is.

Russia was considered to be among the “most Christian” nations in the world—a land with a rich, age-old history of churches and monasteries, the wellspring of numerous revered saints and martyrs, with a cherished and abundant legacy of sacred music, iconography and spiritual literature. The Russian Orthodox church was prevalent and very, very strong. The Russian temperament is passionate and they do not do things by halves. I note that Ayn came from Jewish background although her parents were not actively Jewish. This suggests that her family may not have had many generations in Russia - one maybe two. There had been terrible anti-semitic laws and so on from about 1860s. Russian Jews were (unsurprisingly) not very well accepted and stuck together. If her family weren't practising Jews, my guess would be that they would have been quite alone as a family unless they had become Russified. There was a movement towards the later part of the 19th century that tried to Russify the Jews by inter alia enlisting the men as soldiers and providing schools for Jews that were secular, preventing them from buying land and so on. A Jewish poet told the Jews to behave like Russians outside the home but be Jewish at home. It would be interesting to read a bit more about her family and maybe Heller's biography will go in to this...

Anyway, my point is that her quote is her memory of her childhood in Russia (not the USA) as the epoch of civilisation for her. It was the end of the aristocracy and the beginnings of great social and political change so would have been a fascinating time to live. But it was predominantly a Christian environment. All religions were considered incompatible with Communism and were later forbidden after the Revolution of 1917. I can't say how much Christianity had to do with the creativity of this time and earlier - I was being a bit facetious about that. Probably more to do with money in the hands of the aristocracy, patronage of the arts by these people with lots of time and money to spend (you only need to read Tolstoy to get a taste of the life of the aristocracy) and the beginnings of the rise of the proletariat (and for this read Dostoevsky).

Ahem

Ross Elliot's picture

"...that there are a hell of a lot more abominations NOT in the name of religion."

Only if you qualify religion as involving grown men who look like they've raided Liberace's wardrobe.

It's not the trappings of religion that make it evil--that just makes it silly--it's the primacy of faith, and faith's handmaiden, force.

Rand, Faith and Force.

This is central to Objectivism's opposition to religion: the anti-mind, anti-reason, anti-reality corruption of faith.

By that standard, fascism, communism, socialism and all manner of statisms are one and the same as religion.

Rosie said:

sharon's picture

"Far beneath the earth’s crust lay Hell, which was full of fire, brimstone, witches, sprites, devils, and bad spirits. Not exactly Christianity as the Bible describes!!"

From the good book:

A place of outer darkness - "Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 22:13).

A place where men are tormented with fire and brimstone - "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death" (Revelation 21:Cool.

A place where fire is not quenched - "Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:44).

That's enough. Evil

Rosie

Kasper's picture

You're over looking the fact that what really made America so great was the tennets in the constitution of individual rights, property rights and freedom. Although the authors may have been christian and the dominant culture in America was christian, christianity can't take the credit for the civility and prosperity that was so unprecedented in our history. Christianity has a long history of blood, conflict and totalitarianism. To this day christians are very tempted to use their faith and morals to guide legislation and to hijack the government.

Freedom, individual rights and property rights as understood by the constitution, Ayn Rand and economists like George Reisman are simply absent in the christian theology.

I am amazed how many people think that America's greatness has anything to do with its christianity. I attended a drinks at Jameson's once, Lindsay was there and a man called James, who once worked in congress on the republican side, held the strong conviction that the essence of America's success could be attributed to the shoulders of christianity, an obsurd rationilization.

Jeff

Rosie's picture

Not selective history, Jeff!
I am merely making an observation about an era Ayn Rand thinks was so marvellous. The Romantic, Victorian era. Which it was. For the reasons I have said. But I think things are much, much better today.
(Apart from the taxes and estate duties!)

I do not deny the dark ages but I do deny that the dark ages was a period of where everyone was a Christian. Christianity continued to spread, but paganism was strong, as was magic and potions, fortune telling, myths, and card-reading. The earth was flat. Heaven was like the Second Floor of a house. Angels roamed around Heaven, watching earth people, from time to time, visiting them. Far beneath the earth’s crust lay Hell, which was full of fire, brimstone, witches, sprites, devils, and bad spirits. Not exactly Christianity as the Bible describes!! Hardly anyone could read or write and the scholars mainly left Europe for Arabia - the land of liberty. Rome had fallen and chaos ruled...until about the time of Charlemagne who began to create a kind of organisation again. But it all took time...

Neither do I deny abominations done in the name of religion but remember the statistics of my previous post - that there are a hell of a lot more abominations NOT in the name of religion.

The 20th Century...

Frediano's picture

... was not the replacement of religion by secular science.

The 20th Century was the slick marketing replacement of religion by religion.

Just because political hucksters marketed their religion as 'Social Scientology' did not make it any less a religion, any more than foisting 'Christian Science' or 'Scientology' made them any less religions.

Society is not at all the illogical or a-logical, incoherent and fantastic being which has too often been considered. Quite on the contrary, the collective consciousness is the highest form of psychic life, since it is the consciousness of consciousness. Being placed outside of and above individual and local contingencies, it sees things only in their permanent and essential aspects, which it crystallizes into communicable ideas. At the same time that it sees from above, it sees farther; at every moment of time it embraces all known reality; that is why it alone can furnish the minds with the moulds which are applicable to the totality of things and which make it possible to think of them

Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (New York, The Free Press, 1954), p. 444.

"S"ociety=God, God="S"ociety, so say those who believe. (Pick up any sociology text; it is filled with nothing but assertions of a form beginning with "Sociologists believe...") Hallelujah, Brother.

Have the children been properly socialized with this utter absolute belief in Durkheim's Magic Spirit in the Sky? Are the religious enforcers properly on the lookout for any anti-social elements loose in the congregation?

Let me declare, as forcefully as I can, that foaming-at-the-mouth religious zealot Durkheim's definition of "S"ociety above is clearly religious art. Here is the science:

"Society, from the latin root "socius" : ally, companion, known associate."

Do you know 'everyone?' Neither do I. An example of a society is a group of people who meet once a month to discuss bird migration. The ASME is a society. PETA is a society. The 82nd Airborne is a society. The folks who bring us Outback Steakhouses form a society. ... The agregate of all of them has no single voice or practical meaning, and leg lifting attempts to speak for the agregate of all of them is precisely the same as claiming to speak for God-- leg lifting political nonsense.

What made the post Progressive era/ 20th Century in America so different from previous periods was the absolute depth to which our once secular nation permitted a single religion to penetrate and over-run and dominate the machinery of state.

The earlier period of a secular state, not overtly over-run by a Christian religion intending, by design, to take over the machinery of state was indeed uncharacteristic of the 20th century. The new religion -- Social Scientology -- was preaching the message that "The State/"S"ociety is God", and the very reason for being of that religion was to take over the state and turn America into a virulent theocracy of "Social Scientology."

America is over-run by a single religion. The 1st Amendment was pierced by a religion that marketed itself as 'science', and has since slammed the door shut behind it--aiming its provisions exclusively only at other competing religions, like Christianity, but never internally at Durkheim's religion that has already over-run the machinery of state.

Selective History

Jeff Perren's picture

Yes. And surely we are to forget about those thousand years when "everyone was a Christian," those stellar times known as the Dark Ages. The Inquisition wasn't run by Christians, that would be a poor reading of history. The evil men who did evil things weren't following the dictates of Christianity, but perverting them for their own evil ends.

And the Islamists would claim the same.

From an old post: Objectivists--The Young and The Christian

Rosie's picture


Ayn Rand makes the point in The Romantic Manifesto, of art in general: "As a child, I saw a glimpse of the pre-World War One world, the last afterglow of the most radiant cultural atmosphere in human history. If one has glimpsed that kind of art--and wider: the possibility of that kind of culture--one is unable to be satisfied with anything less. I must emphasize that I am not speaking of concretes, nor of politics, nor of journalistic trivia, but of that period's 'sense of life.' Its art projected an overwhelming sense of intellectual freedom, of depth, i.e., concern with fundamental problems, of demanding standards, of inexhaustible originality, of unlimited possibilities and, above all, of profound respect for man. The existential atmosphere (which was then being destroyed by Europe's philosophical trends and political systems) still held a benevolence that would be incredible to the men of today, i.e., a smiling, confident good will of man to man, and of man to life. It is impossible for the young people of today to grasp the reality of man's higher potential and what scale of achievement it had reached in a rational (or semi-rational) culture. But I have seen it. I know that it was real, that it existed, that it is possible. It is that knowledge that I want to hold up to the sight of men--over the brief span of less than a century--before the barbarian curtain descends altogether (if it does) and the last memory of man's greatness vanishes in another Dark Ages.

The interesting thing about this to me is that this period of time which she clearly sees as the epoch of civilised man, was the last period where Christianity was universally accepted by all except those few who (mis)understood evolution. (More to follow on this...soon!)

It was also the last period before socialism came in to being. Although charity and altruism flourished.

It was also the time when money could be inherited without being taxed so heavily that it all but disappeared. This meant that many people could pursue their interests without regard to the gas bill (in the words of that rake, Lineberry), patronise artists so that they too did not need to worry about the gas bill and look after the truly poor and the ill.

This latter Dickensian aspect I note she ignores in her romanticism but, as far as people were concerned, there was a defined set of values that (almost) all European (Christian) people shared. This is what made this period so great. The history of the West is the history of Christianity. As Christianity declines, the greatness of the Western world follows.

By the way, I hope that your misunderstanding of the Biblical quote in the first paragraph of this old post is now cleared up. Smiling

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