“Peter, before you can do things for people, you must be the kind of man who can get things done. But to get things done, you must love the doing, not the secondary consequences.” (p. 604)
“That precisely, is the deadliness of second-handers. They have no concern for facts, ideas, work. They’re concerned only with people. They don’t ask: ‘Is this true?’ They ask: ‘Is this what others think is true?” Not to judge, but to repeat. Not to do, but to give the impression of doing. Not creation, but show. Not ability, but friendship. Not merit but pull…second-handers have no sense of reality…opinion without a rational process.”
“The man who attempts to live for others is a dependent. He is a parasite in motive and makes parasites of those he serves. The relationship produces nothing but mutual corruption…But the man who enslaves himself voluntarily in the name of love is the basest of creatures. He degrades the dignity of man and he degrades the conception of love. But this is the essence of altruism.” (p. 712)
Ayn Rand. Every day since graduation back in May of 2012, I have been one day further from philosophy. I miss the intellectual thrill of learning and discovering, and of course reading and writing. And so here starts my journey, with no particular chronological order, but an order of personal interest. Ayn Rand, the philosopher of Objectivism. Libertarians and members of the Conservative party, particularly members of the tea party seem to flock and defend the works of Ayn Rand. And so, in order to broaden my intellectual horizons, but to also learn the workings of my enemy (politically and philosophically) I decided to dive in to the controversial realm of Objectivism.
Fountainhead was written in the 1940s, right in the thick of the Second World War and the beginnings of the Cold War. Right away I was able to pick up on the undertones of war and the deep-seated fears of communism as a philosophical undercurrent through her writing.
Roark Howard. He is the mouthpiece of Ayn Rand’s philosophy. But not just her political philosophy, but her philosophies of art, ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology.
I was moved by this book because it is well written, and has many sophisticated layerings of meaning. The book was remarkably enjoyable to read. I could definitely see the influence of Dostoyevsky’s writing in her book with respect to her use of severe ethical conflicts to highlight humanity, but also through the curtain of darkness which she envelopes all of her characters. There were moments in the book when I felt like I was at the pawnshop again in Crime and Punishment, but I digress.
The essence of this book, which is depicted from the title, “Fountainhead”, is this theme of self-dependence and non-conformity through independently inspired or created thought. Roark Howard epitomizes this belief through his radical architectural concepts and extremely callous and apathetic attitude. But of course, what makes this book and Roark so interesting is, these adjectives are only valid if he is contrasted with societal norms. And these norms are exactly what Roark, and thus Ayn Rand are trying to question. Is Roark really a callous person, or is he someone who does not feel the need to spare the feelings of others because he does not care what they think of him? Is this the effect of an overinflated ego, or a complete absence of one?
While self-dependence and self-creation are empowering concepts, it is apparent that these themes are motivated by the era in which this book was written. The deep rooted fear of communism in the United States at the time and the rise of the Soviet Union play a big role in the themes of this book. And while self-dependence for creative thinking and execution of these ideas are important for Roark, the aesthetic “objectivism” plays a crucial role in this book as well.
Through her selection of architecture as the core field of inquiry and profession in the book, interesting metaphors on the philosophy of aesthetics, ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics are expressed. Themes of creating a piece of art which is tangible and real sets the stage for objectivism to take on more than just political and social criticism.
All in all, the book was an enjoyable read. It did not read like a typical philosophical primary text, but more like a novel. I can understand why many people gravitate towards her philosophy.