Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Jordan Peterson on Ayn Rand and Objectivism

Here's Jordan Peterson’s appraisal of Rand’s fiction and philosophy:
"Well, I like the emphasis on individual responsibility. You know, I think that’s very important… I think she was more powerful as a fiction writer than as a philosopher. And that’s not a denigrating comment because I don’t believe that philosophy is a higher calling than fiction… They have their own domains. I think my sense is that I don’t regard Ayn Rand as a great mind. I don’t think that her take on things was sufficiently differentiated and sophisticated. Like I said, she had reasons to be anti-communist. (Laughs). There can be plenty of reasons for being anti-communist and I can resonate with her critiques of collectivism and I like the romanticism in the books. I enjoyed reading Atlas Shrugged. I read it again recently, I enjoyed it again. But I also don’t think that it is great literature and the reason for that is she doesn’t place the struggle between good and evil inside her characters. It is always between characters and that’s a mistake. Because even your most radical leftwing revolutionary is mostly not a  radical leftwing revolutionary.
"So you have to show the struggle within more, and I don’t think that she does a very good job of that. Her noble people are too noble and her ignoble people are too ignoble. And it divides the world too much into the bad guys and the good guys. It is like — that’s comforting and there is an archetypical element to it too, but it’s not sufficiently differentiated enough or sophisticated enough." 


Marsha Familaro Enright said...

Unfortunately, I don't think his thinking is sophisticated enough to understand Rand's. Also, I think he was much more influenced by her than he admits or realizes (he first read Atlas at 13).

Anoop Verma said...

Marsha Enright, In fact, I left a comment in Facebook discussion on this post. I said that I am surprised that Peterson has said all this about Rand. Normally he does not say this kind of thing. I think he is reacting to some of the bad things that some Objectivists have said about him. I think he is trying to respond in kind.

Anonymous said...

Which points do you think he got wrong?

Unknown said...

Anoop. This quote from Peterson changed my view of Rand forever. He is totally right. Romantic novels should be an internal struggle, not a struggle between people. I’ve never considered that and now can never go back.