This is the fifth post that explores the tenets of objectivism as stated by Ayn Rand which are: reality, reason, self-interest and capitalism. In the last post authentic self-interest was defined as individual authority that is submitted to the authority of the Creator. This is based on the premise that we have been created in His image and have intrinsic value and worth. The definition of self interest as provided by Ayn Rand, however, is:
“…to see oneself as an end in oneself. That is to say that one's own life and happiness are one's highest values, and that one does not exist as a servant or slave to the interests of others. Nor do others exist as servants or slaves to one's own interests.”
This is where the definitions between my proposed understanding of self interest and Ayn Rand’s definition diverge. An author has the freedom to make definitions, but those definitions have to be accepted according to relevance theory in the mind of the reader for effective communication to take place. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
“…only a few professional philosophers have taken her work seriously.”
Partly this was due to the fact that she seldom took time to defend against possible objections to her views. Partly it was due to the idea that her arguments too often do not support her conclusions. It is no secret that Ayn Rand was not a follower of Christ. But since I believe that God causes rain to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous, and that all truth belongs to God, the tenets of objectivism have merit insomuch as they parallel timeless truths outside of human evolutionary moral structures. Self interest has a negative connotation to be sure, but the idea that one should love themselves first is one of those timeless truths that are founded on the existence and nature of the God of the Bible.
Paul’s statement in Philippians 3:14 that:
“…with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (NET)
Implicit in this is a self interest in winning a prize, the type of self interest I am advocating. With this in mind, let’s press on to capitalism.
Starting with Ayn Rand’s definition:
“a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned.”
This immediately brings to mind the scripture in Acts 4:32 where:
“The group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one said that any of his possessions was his own, but everything was held in common.” (NET)
Clearly the two definitions are miles apart. But this scripture was written to provide a historical account of what was done by early believers as recorded by Luke. Whether this is an admonition for people to live in this manner has been controversial to this day. For instance, Paul writes to those who are slaves in I Corinthians 7:21:
“Were you called as a slave? Do not worry about it. But if indeed you are able to be free, make the most of the opportunity.”
What would be the incentive for suggesting that one should live independent from slavery if one accepts the premise that everything should be shared? Indeed, slavery would provide an efficient manner of sharing by the efficient management of “shared” possessions. On a parallel note, there is a strong admonition in Romans 13:8 to:
“Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” (NET)
Implicit in this idea is that each person would have the means to love one another. This certainly hinges heavily on how love is defined, which is hinted at with Paul’s concluding clause of how the law is fulfilled. This will be developed in the next post which will delve deeper into capitalism.