What did Ayn Rand mean specifically by irreplaceable? It's her wording in quotes like this that I don't always understand completely.
answered Apr 08 '14 at 11:36
Greg Perkins ♦♦
The question didn't indicate where the quote comes from. It's from Galt's Speech in Atlas Shrugged, where Galt says:
The last of my words will be addressed to those heroes who might still be hidden in the world, those who are held prisoner, not by their evasions, but by their virtues and their desperate courage. My brothers in spirit, check on your virtues and on the nature of the enemies you're serving. Your destroyers hold you by means of your endurance, your generosity, your innocence, your love—the endurance that carries their burdens—the generosity that responds to their cries of despair—the innocence that is unable to conceive of their evil and gives them the benefit of every doubt, refusing to condemn them without understanding and incapable of understanding such motives as theirs—the love, your love of life, which makes you believe that they are men and that they love it, too. But the world of today is the world they wanted; life is the object of their hatred. Leave them to the death they worship. In the name of your magnificent devotion to this earth, leave them, don't exhaust the greatness of your soul on achieving the triumph of the evil of theirs.
By "fire," Ayn Rand (through Galt's words) is referring to "greatness of soul," innocent love of life, endurance in the pursuit of it, "magnificent devotion to this earth" -- heroes. The abstract term for what Ayn Rand is talking about is "Benevolent Universe Premise." Refer to that topic in The Ayn Rand Lexicon for an excellent introduction to it.
There are a few other passages in Ayn Rand's nonfiction that dramatically express the Benevolent Universe Premise. One of my top favorites appears in Ayn Rand's 1962 review of Victor Hugo's Ninety-Three (the review was published in The Ayn Rand Column, September 16, 1962):
When people look back at their childhood or youth, their wistfulness comes from the memory, not of what their lives had been in those years, but of what life had then promised to be. The expectation of some undefinable splendor, of the unusual, the exciting, the great, is an attribute of youth—and the process of aging is the process of that expectation's gradual extinction.
Ayn Rand's article goes on to describe what Ninety-Three meant to her in her own youth, as fuel to keep her own "fire" burning. By "fire" she is referring to the aspirations and expectations most often found in youth, innocently believing that personal productiveness and happiness are possible and attainable in life if one pursues them energetically, devoutly, and by the right means.
Other favorite passages of mine expressing the Benevolent Universe Premise include:
Renunciation is not one of my premises. If I see that the good is possible to men, yet it vanishes, I do not take "Such is the trend of the world" as a sufficient explanation. I ask such questions as: Why? -- What caused it? -- What or who determines the trends of the world? (The answer is: philosophy.)
...such concepts do name actual emotions, even though no supernatural dimension exists; and these emotions are experienced as uplifting or ennobling, without the self-abasement required by religious definitions. What, then, is their source or referent in reality? It is the entire emotional realm of man's dedication to a moral ideal. [...]
If one doubts the power of philosophy in relation to man-worship and dedication to a moral ideal, a good overview can be found in the Lexicon topic of "Philosophy." Refer, also, to Ayn Rand's books, For the New Intellectual and Philosophy: Who Needs It. And for concretization, there are Ayn Rand's novels. For examples of spiritual "fire" in various stages of burnout, observe especially characters such as Henry Cameron, Gail Wynand, Dominique Francon (fully rekindled in the final ending), Dr. Robert Stadler, and Cherryl Brooks (at the end of her life). Ayn Rand is talking about emotional "fire" -- and its fuel.
answered Apr 15 '14 at 01:36
Ideas for Life ♦