The Role of Women, Cynicism, Prayers, and More
Webcast Q&A: 11 March 2012
I answered questions on Ayn Rand's view of women, the proper place of women, the health of cynicism and sarcasm, offers of prayers for atheists, and more on 11 March 2012. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was my co-host. Listen to or download this episode of Philosophy in Action Radio below.
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Segments: 11 March 2012
Question: Did Ayn Rand regard women as inferior to men? I admire Ayn Rand, and I've used her philosophy in my business and personal life, but I disagree with her view of women. In her article "About a Woman President," Ayn Rand said that "For a woman qua woman, the essence of femininity is hero-worship – the desire to look up to man. 'To look up' does not mean dependence, obedience or anything implying inferiority." Yet her view seems to imply inferiority in practice: Rand says that no woman should aspire to be U.S. President because that would put her in the psychologically unbearable position of not having any man to look up to. So, does Rand's view imply that women are inferior to men? What is the factual basis of her view, if any? Do you agree with her?
Answer, In Brief: Ayn Rand's arguments against a woman president are puzzling and wrong, but they're no reason to think that she regarded women as inferior to men.
Question: Are women subservient to men in Objectivism like in Christianity? The Bible and Christians teach that God made women to be subservient to men and not to be their leader. Ayn Rand seems to think that women are naturally subservient to men and should not be their leader. Aside from the appeal to God, what's the difference?
Answer, In Brief: Ayn Rand's views on sexual psychology, even if wrong, are not merely asserted without reason, as in Christianity, but rather are based on biological facts.
Question: Are cynicism and sarcasm unhealthy? I know some very bright people who also frequently express cynicism and sarcasm towards world events, public figures, etc. Their remarks can often be quite witty and insightful. But is there something unhealthy about looking at the world in this way, or can that be an appropriate response to all the many real negative facts of reality?
Answer, In Brief: Sarcasm is morally neutral as a form of humor, but cynicism is psychologically unhealthy and philosophically wrong.
Question: What should I do when other people offer to pray for me? Sometimes my friends and family members offer to pray for me – whether because I've got some problem in my life or because they know that I'm an atheist. How should I respond?
Answer, In Brief: You should tailor your response to the context, but in most cases, you should be clear, firm, and kind in refusing the prayers of others.
Rapid Fire Questions (1:13:22)
- Do Ayn Rand's views on homosexuality constitute an error of morality? If so, are there any implications as to her moral perfection?
- Ayn Rand called her philosophy Objectivism, does that mean that every philosopher's ideas should have a name and a set of authorized texts? Should your philosophy have its own name?
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About Philosophy in Action
I'm Dr. Diana Brickell (formerly Diana Hsieh). I'm a philosopher, and I've long specialized in the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I completed my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. I retired from work as a public intellectual in 2015.
From September 2009 to September 2015, I produced a radio show and podcast, Philosophy in Action Radio. In the primary show, my co-host Greg Perkins and I answered questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life. We broadcast live over the internet on Sunday mornings.
My first book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. The book defends the justice of moral praise and blame of persons using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility, thereby refuting Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck." My second book (and online course), Explore Atlas Shrugged, is a fantastic resource for anyone wishing to study Ayn Rand's epic novel in depth.
I can be reached via e-mail to email@example.com.