Rebirth of Reason

Post to this threadMark all messages in this thread as readMark all messages in this thread as unread

Post 0

Friday, January 29, 2016 - 6:09pmSanction this postReply

Thanks, Joseph! You make my head spin - and I mean that in a positive sense: your challenge to check my logical premises is cogent and consequential.


Allow me to suggest that the pivot point is the stolen concept of sacrifice.  As with "selfishness" Ayn Rand took a special definition of "sacrifice" that was not incorrect, but was not often used.  For Rand, a sacrifice is the offering of a greater value to receive a lesser value: a clear loss.  


However, in chess, as in religion, as in military strategy, a sacrifice is the price you pay to achieve a greater value.  Thus - and I believe that this is fully consonant with your essay - when Howard Roark is offered the opportunity to build the Manhattan Bank Building if only he would put Doric columns on the ground floorm, he refuses - and goes to work in the Francon quarry.  In the movie version, he says, "I would rather work as a day laborer." And he does.  That is the kind of "sacrifice" that we are talking about: a devotion to a higher ideal than momentary gain.  See The New Testament, Mark 8:36 - "... what profit it a man to gain the whole world if he loses his soul?"  


To that rhetorical question, Elsworth Toohey suggested that the correct choice is to gather souls. His Sunday school teacher wanted to ask, "What the hell he meant!" but asked only "what he meant."


As for Roark and I, I have quit more jobs than I was fired from for never sacrificing (in the Randian sense) my standards. I just went through it again this month. The so-called "lead" technical writer to whom I was supposed to report sent me two messages, both saying that my suggestions were the better way to do things, but that we would continue to do things her way for "consistency."  I quit.


In Ghost Busters, the secretary Jennine says, "I've quit better jobs than this."  Yup.


(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 1/29, 6:20pm)

Post 1

Friday, January 29, 2016 - 7:58pmSanction this postReply

I would suggest that the point that Marotta makes doesn't address the essentials.  But maybe I'm missing something because he mentioned "...the stolen concept of sacrifice."  I don't understand what he was referring to.


The context of the use of the word 'sacrifice' in this thread is ethics.  "Sacrifice" in a moral context addresses the claim of a moral requirment.  To be moral, says Altruism, you must sacrifice and it doesn't mean giving up a pawn in chess inorder to gain a bishop. 


I don't think that Rand used a special definition of "sacrifice" - it doesn't need a special definition.  All that is needed is to stay in the proper context.  (It is just unfortunate that common English usage has different meanings for some words based upon the context.)


When one leaves the moral context, then the use of the word 'sacrifice' - as in chess - may just be saying that you have to pay a price to make an anticipated net-gain.  I have to 'sacrifice' some of the money in my wallet when I go into a restaurant for a meal.  But it isn't a real sacrifice since I want that meal more than the money it costs.  It is a net gain.  Move the meal to the moral arena and it can only be called a sacrifice if I am morally compelled to use my money to buy a meal for someone I don't know or don't like.


Someone might say that the amount of money you pay to eat a meal is variable, and in some imagined world maybe you wouldn't have to pay anything.  Based upon that, someone could go on to say that any money paid is indeed a 'sacrifice' since it 'could have been free.'  But even then an essential element is left out.  That is: altruism's moral requirement that a person come out behind.


Joe said, "Roark was not a hero because he suffered through parts of The Fountainhead. He was a hero because he won in the end. His 'sacrifices' were no such thing."  Exactly!

Post to this thread

User ID Password or create a free account.