Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Leonard Peikoff on Ayn Rand and "Perfect" Heroism

On Leonard Peikoff's recent "Q& A" at peikoff.com, he answered the following question:

 "Isn't it dangerous to hold another person in such high esteem...to admire a hero?" (regarding whether or not Ayn Rand ever acted irrationally). Peikoff first responds that Rand, to his knowledge, did NOT act purposely irrational, but did make errors, particularly in her judgement of certain people, which she would correct "as more evidence came in...". He then added:

"...If you think it's a danger to recognize a hero as a value, it's because you think you have to be evading or distorting reality...why? 'Because there are no heroes! There are no perfect people! Plato proved that, Christianity proved that.' So your idea is that in order to be rational, you should...escape this faith in the supernatural...you should be a cynic and say nobody is this good... You are entirely wrong."

Hear the full comment here.

I touch on this in my recent essay The Epic Ballad of Superman, in how popular music reflects the culture in seeing Superman as futile because people aren't perfect: One particular lyric, Billy Idol's "White Wedding," captures this issue nicely:

Hey little sister, who's your Superman?/
Hey litle sister, who's your only one..."

Why does the singer ask this? Because:

There is nothing sure in this world/
and there is nothing purein this world/

In other words, "Who is John Galt?"