Thursday, June 16, 2011

You Can Only Hate What's *There*

Lately I've been thinking about the Objectivist tenet on how things such as income distribution, anti-trust laws, and the like are evidence of hatred for the good for being good, and I think I've made an identification that makes this point a little clearer.

By "hatred of the good for being good" Ayn Rand meant that these people of this kind hated good people -- talented artists, successful businessmen, geniuses -- because they possessed human values and practiced virtues which they did not, and they hate specifically those qualities. In practice, her logic continues, this will amount to seeking out to undermine or destroy these things, such as by upholding "abstract" art, taxing and regulating businessmen, and labeling geniuses as nut jobs. They'll mostly do it under an intellectual guise, such as arguing how abstract art is actually great or why businessmen are immoral, but at root the motivation is hatred of the good for being good.

The specific thing that confused me is how such a large body of people as a society could be malice driven like this but state their motives as being otherwise. Is it not possible that they could believe their justifications with total sincerity? And I think degrees are relevant here, as I believe someone could be conflicted by believing partially his justifications while being motivated at root by another, so here I'm adding emphasis on total sincerity.

What clarified things for me is remembering that only existence exists. That which does not exist cannot have an impact on reality, and anyone who claims to deal with things that don't exist, such as supernatural entities, are only dealing with content within their mind. Since the thing doesn't actually exist, they can't interact with it, or even direct their emotions towards it.

So for things such as society decrying the acts of honest businessmen, I think the reasons why they hate them for their ability and success are imaginary because the misdeeds they're accusing businessmen of are largely nonexistent. They don't rise prices arbitrarily, force consumers to purchase from them, steal from voluntary transactions, and so on, so when people claim to hate businessmen for these acts they're almost solely dealing with content of their minds, as the facts by and large don't exist. Since these facts largely don't exist, that means these people can only direct their hatred towards that which does exist, and what is it that exists of great businessmen in general? Success, wealth, ability, and more. People hate those attributes because those are the attributes that actually exist, not price gouging, stealing from willing consumers, and being overall menaces.

To give another example, imagine having a craving for a granny smith apple, and contrast two different scenarios in which a granny smith apple is present and not present. In the latter situation, a person cannot justifiable claim to crave the apple on the table before him because the apple isn't there. He knows physically he craves an apple, but so far that desire remains physical, emotional, and rooted in his mind because there is no such apple around to be the object of his desire. And so it goes with businessmen: Since, in general, the evil doings they're accused of don't actually exist, what these men are hated for is what actually exists, what can be objects of people's hatred, which is talent, money, etc. Of course, I recognize that some businessmen are and have been evil, such as the peanut manufacturer that last year deliberately processed and sold spoiled peanuts, but they're the exception to the rule, not part of a trend.

Only existence exists, and all we can interact with is existents. If a person is unable or unwilling to recognize that something doesn't exist, then instead he'll interact with actual existents in a totally misguided way, right down to believing he's dealing with something that actually something totally different.


  1. This idea, the "hatred of the good for being the good," i.e., nihilism, is one of Rand's identifications that on the deepest level is totally wrong. I'll use thrillers in art as a very clear example.

    Anti-conservatives (wrongly referred to as liberals) sometimes trash thrillers, whether it be TV shows like 24, action movies, or crime books by authors like John Grisham, James Patterson, Vince Flynn, or Dan Brown. They are wrong to write these types of art off, but they are correct on one count: that they are not close to the best possible, that they are not esthetically challenging enough, that they don't demand enough patience and focus from the viewer.

    To view such types of art as the best possible is much worse than viewing them as bad. It is an insult to the human mind to call a Vince Flynn novel, which I like, very thought-provoking and ideologically and intellectually challenging.

    Also, exciting thrillers and boring thrillers are lazily lumped together and judged as good, which can even more genuinely infuriating. It's almost as if such advocates barely like the thrillers they claim to be such fans of--everything gets lumped together as great.

    There isn't hatred of the good for being the good, there's rational frustration with a lower-level thing that's enjoyable, or even mediocrity (something decent that barely satisfies but is momentarily tolerable), being held up as the best possible.

  2. Ben,

    I posted a critique of this post on my blog at


  3. Jason -

    I must say that I have no idea how your "example" relates to what Ayn Rand called "hatred of the good for being the good."

  4. Which Jason are you addressing Mr. Dalton?

  5. The first one. (His was the only comment visible when I posted.)


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