Uncommon God, Common Good
8/14/13 at 07:18 PM 0 Comments

On Ayn Rand: Is Rational Selfishness Rational and Self-Affirming Enough?

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Ayn Rand was a most provocative and radical thinker, whom many leading Americans have claimed influenced their political and economic views.

Ayn Rand's objectivist ethics frames morality in terms of rational self-interest or rational selfishness (Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness, Signet, 1964, p. xi). Among other things, she confronted altruism and hedonism (The Virtue of Selfishness, 33). Her interview with Mike Wallace reveals her convictions in precise and startling terms. Whether one agrees with her or not, one finds here a clear and creative communicator whose ideas must be taken quite seriously. As she makes clear in her interview with Wallace, she challenges what she takes to be the foundation (altruism) of Judeo-Christian ethics.

In my estimation, her ethical model of objectivism depends upon the ability and imperative of reasoning apart from emotional or experiential stimuli that otherwise impact rationality and upon a view of the self as autonomous. Can one reason in this pristine manner, and should one? And should one view the self as autonomous? If one answers in the affirmative, one would likely tend to affirm Rand's objectivism as sufficiently rational and self-affirming. I don't answer in the affirmative to either of these claims, and will discuss these matters further in future entries on the subject.

This piece is cross-posted at Patheos and The Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins. Comments made here are not monitored. To join the conversation, please comment on this post at Patheos.

Dr. Paul Louis Metzger is the Founder and Director of The Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins and Professor at Multnomah Biblical Seminary/Multnomah University. He is the author of numerous works, including Connecting Christ: How to Discuss Jesus in a World of Diverse Paths and Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church. These volumes and his others can be found wherever fine books are sold.

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