Thursday, December 23, 2004

George Will Misinterprets Ayn Rand 

From Mr. Will's column today in the Washington Post in which he reviews Michael Crichton's new novel "State of Fear":

"State of Fear," with a first printing of 1.5 million copies, resembles Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" -- about 6 million copies sold since 1957 -- as a political broadside woven into an entertaining story. But whereas Rand had only an idea -- a good one (capitalism is splendid), but only one -- Crichton has information.

Here is the response I included in an email to Mr. Will. I will also submit it as a Letter to the Editor:

Mr. Will:

Allow me to be one of your readers who strongly disagrees with your characterization of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged" in your December 23, 2004 column "Global Warming? Hot Air" as having "had only an idea -- a good one (capitalism is splendid), but only one --." You must not have finished the book (I do realize it is over 1,000 pages.)

In "Atlas Shrugged" Ayn Rand presents, perhaps for the first time in the history of the field, a philosophic system in which all of its associated branches are interrelated and consistent. These branches include Metaphysics (the nature of the universe), Epistemology (how we know what we know), Ethics (the differences between right and wrong), Politics (how we organize ourselves in society) and Aesthetics (art). As you can gauge from these diverse areas of intellectual inquiry, her feat is quite an accomplishment.

In my efforts to explain to others the essence of her philosophy, Objectivism, I often relate a story I heard her close associate Nathaniel Branden tell when asked why he thought her books appealed so much to adolescents. He explained that people at this age often begin to question the meaning of life and the reason for their existence. Dr. Branden said that they naturally look to their parent's lives for answers, and come to the conclusion that there must be something better. Ayn Rand supplies the something better.

February 2, 2005 marks the 100th anniversary of Ayn Rand's birth. What a perfect excuse for your readers to pick up a copy of "The Fountainhead" or "Atlas Shrugged" and learn first hand why this author was such an amazing woman.


Mark Lerner

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