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Ayn Rand had misgivings about “evolution”

File:Ayn Rand by Talbot 1943.jpg
Ayn Rand (1905-1982)/Talbot, 1943

That might not be what we’d have expected to hear about the twentieth century novelist and philosopher but reader Eric Holloway sends us this item:

I am not a student of the theory of evolution and, therefore, I am neither its supporter nor its opponent. But a certain hypothesis has haunted me for years; I want to stress that it is only hypothesis. There is an enormous breach of continuity between nature and man’s consciousness, in its distinctive characteristic: his conceptual faculty. It is as if, after aeons of physiological development, the evolutionary process altered its course, and the higher stages of development focused primarily on the consciousness of living species, not their bodies. But the development of a man’s consciousness is volitional: no matter what the innate degree of intelligence he must develop it, he must learn how to use it, he must become human by choice. What if he does not choose to? Then he becomes a transitional phenomenon—a desperate creature that struggles frantically against his own nature, longing for effortless “safety” of an animal’s consciousness, which he cannot recapture, and rebelling against a human consciousness, which he is afraid to achieve. (Rand, Philosophy: Who Needs It?, p. 45.)

This is quoted in an essay on her thoughts on evolution, Ayn Rand and Evolution, by Neil Parille.

Holloway compares her thoughts to this passage from G.K. Chesterton:

Most philosophers have the enlightenment to add that a third mystery attaches to the origin of man himself. In other words, a third bridge was built across a third abyss of the unthinkable when there came into the world what we call reason and what we call will. Man is not merely an evolution but rather a revolution. (Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, p. 26.)

Oh well, never mind. Bill Nye now, he still believes!

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See also: Tom Wolfe on evolution as a theory of everything


Ha ha - yes, right up there with post-modernist geniuses. I was surprised that she actually questioned Darwin, Axel. She should have questioned her own philosophy at the same time. Silver Asiatic
I hope you're not sniping at Ayn Rand, Silver Asian. Anyone who can make a sophisticated philosophy (cough)(cough) out of 'the law of the jungle', has to be right up there with the great figures of philosophy. And er er economics. Axel
I am neither its supporter nor its opponent.
Failure to give support is to be an opponent, of course. You're either with them or against them. And to be with them is to admit no doubts, no weaknesses, no questions.
The supposition of man’s physical descent from monkeys does not necessarily mean that man’s soul, the rational faculty, is only an elaboration of an animal faculty, different from the animal’s consciousness only in degree, not in kind.” (pp. 465-466.)
As any rational person will do - she recoils at the notion that human beings are "only an elaboration of" an animal, different only in "degree". The concept is too stupid and obviously false to entertain in the least. So, she calmly posits that humans are "different ... in kind". Well, yes - ontologically different. A different kind of being. That ontological gap cannot be traversed by mutations or physical changes. The human soul is infinite and eternal. It cannot be created by matter, physics, particles or mutations. I think a lot of atheists know this - but they support evolution anyway. "Emergence" is the evolutionary magic that makes human consciousness appear from animal physicality. Silver Asiatic
Unsurprising. Ayn Rand was essentially an Aristotelian, and Aristotle was all about final causality. Purpose is what provided his golden mean. Evolution claims all purpose is illusive. EricMH
Yet another instance of an A-Mat refusing to accept a conclusion absolutely compelled by her fundamental premises. If materialism is true, then evolution at some level follows as a matter of logic without the need for evidence. There is literally no other option. Barry Arrington

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