Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ayn Rand on Having Children

Amazing.  Could you imagine saying this stuff back then?


Unknown said...

Well said! Too bad Ayn Rand and her work gets trashed constantly for being too selfish and that there are Ayn Rand fans that have gone way too far and have turned objectivism into a cult (look up Leonard Peikoff and some of the interviews people have done with him). Critics tend to call them "Randroids."

Anonymous said...

We must be careful never to allow our respect for a person to cloud our judgement of their ideas. Ayn Rand was right in so many ways it is hard to count, but not in this way. Do not forget that Ayn was a woman, and they see things quite differently. Fatherhood allows us to see ourselves as a part of a continuous stream of humans that have toiled throughout the course of our history. A continuous stream of men that have struggled to teach, to raise up, to protect his life blood. Men who are not fathers are the end of that line, they stand on the shoulders of others, but lift none up upon their own. Our fathers have not toiled in vain, we are not at the end of history. One mans decline is anothers rise. Ayn is honest to admit that not having children is selfish, she is wrong to say that selfishness is always a virtue. A much wiser man that I was right when he said the following:

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it."

kurt9 said...

I'm also someone who likes Ayn Rand's worldview, but can't stand her followers. I used to call them Randroids as well.

kurt9 said...

Ayn is honest to admit that not having children is selfish

Yes, indeed she says this. However, I see no reason to believe this. Often, people who have kids consider those who don't have kids to be selfish. At the same time, those that don't have kids say that many people who do have kids have them for selfish reason (I want a "chip of the ol' block, I want someone to look after me when I am old, I want my kid to be just like me, etc.).

The decision to have or not have kids can be viewed through either prism. Not not live and let live and let the people who want kids have them and stop ragging on the people who don't want them?

Live and let live, is what I say.

Michael S said...

I don't think men have an absolute duty to have children. Just because you were born does not mean you are obligated to do the same thing your father did. And think of all the idiot men who go around knocking up baby-mammas and move on, leaving legions of children raised by single mothers. Creatures like that have no business reproducing.

Personally, if I managed to find a steady source of income and a marriageable woman (not likely) I would like to raise a few children myself, for my own selfish reasons, of course.

The thing I've noticed from studying Ayn Rand, is that whether or not something is selfish or selfless in the objectivist sense depends a lot on whether the action serves one own values or goes against them. If you value a family and raising children, I don't think Rand would call this a sacrifice. It would be a sacrifice if you didn't want children, but had them anyway out of a sense of duty. I believe most of the referenced audio clips were her rejecting such duty.

Anonymous said...

That was pretty awesome, especially the 2nd part when she defines "selfishness".

Anonymous said...

She is exaggerating. I have no problem supporting three wives and nine children in my ten acre farm.

Jacob Ian Stalk said...

I disagree, Anonymous. Having chidren is as selfish as life gets, since it's little more than submission to the eternal biological urge. Society has manufactured all sorts of ways to make it seem like parenthood is driven by a higher calling when really it's just the native expressing itself.

Perents can be selfish or unselfish people, and can turn from one path to another during the course of their parenthood but there are enough egocentric sociopaths with children out there to make it obvious that selflessness is not a common factor.

That wise man Anonymous is referring to made no assertion that the healthful and profitable wisdom learned, shared and transmitted through time by men are carried by a vessel not made by DNA. That wise man, in fact, released everyone from the bondage of parenthood, which is just as easily a conduit for evil.

Dave said...

Dagny Taggart lives out the ultimate feminist fantasy. She's a captain of industry who shags every apex male in the story -- D'Anconia in Part 1, Reardon in Part 2, and the legendary John Galt himself in Part 3. Like all the other characters, she never has or wants any children.

Procreation IS a moral duty. One may disagree as to how this might best be accomplished, but the extinction of good people is by definition immoral.

Rand imagines children as parasites, contributing nothing to the family till, eating their parents into poverty while public schools fill their heads with socialist garbage.

It doesn't have to be that way. In real-life 12-child families, the girls cook, clean, and nanny while the boys work with Dad at the family business. Large families are actually a lot of fun, once the older kids are out of diapers and sharing the workload.

Anonymous said...

Fact is, we must to procreate if the intent is to keep a culture going. However, I don't believe in having kids unless you can take care of them, period. No going to the rest of society for a handout. You had them, you take care of them!! If you can't them too bad, parish.

Anonymous said...

Is having children selfish if by doing so, you become a better person yourself and you raise a child who contributes to the betterment of mankind?

TBAS said...

Did you even listen to Ayn Rand? What is wrong with you? "Betterment of mankind . . . " She has a different definition of selfish from what you are obviously implying. I suppose in some rare cases, a person can have a selfish desire to have children. But, it would be hard, rationally, to justify such a choice, without resorting to sacrifice and altruism, because you would have to argue the benefits to an individual outweigh all of the years of "sacrifice" he would have to make. I think Ayn Rand would agree that having children is a personal choice. Having children does not make you morally superior, or better than anyone else, and is a major obstacle to you achieving your values (which I would presume for most people are higher than having children, like keeping yourself alive, performing hobbies, etc.). In other words, having children, in itself, is not an accomplishment. Maybe raising children correctly can become an accomplishment, if the parent takes selfish pleasure in being with the children, reveling in her accomplishments, etc. So, so much uncertainty in having children, under what conditions can it possibly be rational to have them? How do you place value in a handicapped child, for instance? Doesn't value come from a person's actions? Like, can you value a rock? Not rationally, in most cases. I guess the best you can say is the handicapped person is worthy if he does the best he can under the circumstances.

Another thing to consider, is how much more expensive it is to raise children rationally, by not relying on handouts. Rand would probably agree, if you have children, and you care about their wellbeing, you rationally ought to give them an all-private, non-religious education, (probably even homeschooling) because not doing so contributes to their irrationality and moral bankruptcy.

I agree with Jacob Ian Stalk that having children, in most cases, is as selfless(Rand's definition) or selfish (everyone else's) as you can get. No one has a choice to be born, and humans are the only animals who can choose not to have children. If we think there is a moral imperative to procreate, we are admitting irrationality and conceding we are no better than animals.

I think, for most people, the choice to have children is made with the same lack of consideration as the choice to have pets, which is also highly irrational. Oh, how cute! Pets contribute nothing while costing a lot. Yeah, medically, the irrational might live longer, because they haven't found another way to enjoy their lives. I question the statistics anyway. It is irrationality that drives people to "love" their pets. Pets are perhaps more rational than many of their owners are, in that they only feign emotions to fill their needs. If you have children, be prepared to have them live with you until the end of time, or make sure you have a job for them, in case they can't find one for themselves. There is no guarantee that they will be as rational as you are, and you made the rational choice to value your children for some reason. Accept the consequences of your choices, in all of their implications!

Anonymous said...

I mean this non-sarcastically. Your reply was one of the greatest counter-arguments I've read in a while.

Anonymous said...

I mean this non-sarcastically. Your reply was one of the greatest counter-arguments I've read in a while.