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I treat my copy of this book almost as well as I maintain my collection of religious texts, no joke.
Objectivism has taken on a prophetic and divinatory role in my life.
The Fountainhead models an extreme way of life for the man whose end is happiness. Though I agree with most of the conditions, there were some that I did not agree with:
1) Altruism. Rand exerts that everyone is capable of levying their own situation financially (as exhibited by both Howard Roark and Gail Wynand).
2) Religion keeps man from reaching his full potential.
Other than that, the guidelines developed throughout the novel are dependable. My favorite is Howard Roark’s refusal to compromise his work. I know realistically in the business world, it’s difficult to take on such risks. Maybe it’s even a little foolish. But I think it says a great deal about integrity and what will benefit the work at the end.
From a literature perspective, the novel keeps the reader interested through all sorts of twists. The characters are well-developed, very 3-dimensional.
The psychology behind the characters is amazing (such as Ellsworth Toohey’s use of ideas to control minds and Peter Keating’s eventual destruction).
The juxtaposing thoughts of Dominique Francon would often throw me off which I really loved.
The whole novel is written in a clever and entertaining way. This is my first Ayn Rand novel. I am looking forward to the others.
A world is born again that never dies.
- My Home by Clive James
Her understanding of altruism is deadly accurate. With one exception, no genuine altruist has ever lived. (As an atheist, Rand would disagree with that assessment.) "Enlightened self-interest" is the closest any of us achieve in the arena of altruism. It is her conviction that Capitalism alone gives expression to an altruistic way of life.
Jolie_Ijaz, I agree with you that she is mistaken about the role of religion. I have to remind myself of her flight from Communism, and of the very likely possibility that its hatred of all forms of religion made an impression on her young mind that she could not shake.
You said that, "It is her conviction that Capitalism alone gives expression to an altruistic way of life."
For me, capitalism and altruism seem to be on opposite sides of the spectrum.
In The Fountainhead, the only times the path between the two connected was when Roark created work that was wholly unmotivated by self-interest. And I can't seem to attribute his lack of self-interest to capitalism really.
My statement would better have been something like: "She believes that Capitalism alone can achieve the results that altruism touts." In reality, she has nothing but contempt for altruism because it is a dead end to every form of human progress. Its inevitable outcome is misery, taking the form of socialism or fascism.
I agree with her in principle. The evidence tells me that the political and social theorists who espouse "sharing the wealth" and "evening the playing field" are motivated by power, not by genuine human concern.
Here's a quote from Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal:
What is the moral code of altruism? The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.
Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice—which means; self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction—which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good.
Do not hide behind such superficialities as whether you should or should not give a dime to a beggar. That is not the issue. The issue is whether you do or do not have the right to exist without giving him that dime. The issue is whether you must keep buying your life, dime by dime, from any beggar who might choose to approach you. The issue is whether the need of others is the first mortgage on your life and the moral purpose of your existence. The issue is whether man is to be regarded as a sacrificial animal. Any man of self-esteem will answer: 'No.' Altruism says: 'Yes.'
If you liked this book, you might also enjoy We The Living. This is the closest to an autobiographical work of Ayn Rand's and, in my view, better explains her philosophical foundation than any of her non-fictional work. Also, the protagonists are more realistic than those in The Fountainhead, which were much more idealized.
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