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Ayn Rand on Love and Happiness

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YouTube / Blank on Blank

Author Ayn Rand is famous for her philosophy of Objectivism, the germ of which was on display in her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. In 1959 (two years after Atlas Shrugged came out), Mike Wallace sat down with Rand to discuss her philosophy. Now, the good folks at Blank on Blank have put together an animated look at one segment of that interview—when Wallace got into Rand's views on altruistic love. Have a look (and check out the transcript below if you have trouble with her accent):

Fun fact: Ayn Rand appeared on Donahue late in her life. If you're a fan, or just curious, those appearances are amazing.

Also, see this Blank on Blank page for more information about this video.

Transcript

Mike Wallace: Who are you, Ayn Rand? You have an accent, which is?

Ayn Rand: Russian.

Mike Wallace: Russian. You were born in Russia?

Ayn Rand: Yes.

Mike Wallace: Came here?

Ayn Rand: Oh, about 30 years ago.

Mike Wallace: And whence did this philosophy of yours come?

Ayn Rand: Out of my own mind, with the sole acknowledgement of a debt to Aristotle, who is the only philosopher that ever influenced me. I devised the rest of my philosophy myself.

Mike Wallace: You are married?

Ayn Rand: Yes.

Mike Wallace: Your husband, is he an industrialist?

Ayn Rand: No. He's an artist. His name is Frank O'Conner.

Mike Wallace: Does he live from his painting?

Ayn Rand: He's just beginning to study painting. He was a designer before.

Mike Wallace: Is he supported in his efforts by the state?

Ayn Rand: Most certainly not.

Mike Wallace: He's supported by you for the time being?

Ayn Rand: No, by his own work, actually, in the past. [CROSSTALK] By me if necessary, but that isn't quite necessary.

Mike Wallace: There is no contradiction here, in that you help him?

Ayn Rand: No, because you see I am in love with him selfishly. It is to my own interest to help him if he ever needed it. I would not call that a sacrifice, because I take selfish pleasure in it.

[BREAK]

Ayn Rand: I say that man is entitled to his own happiness. And that he must achieve it himself. But that he cannot demand that others give up their lives to make him happy. And nor should he wish to sacrifice himself for the happiness of others. I hold that man should have self-esteem.

Mike Wallace: And cannot man have self-esteem if he loves his fellow man? Christ, every important moral leader in man's history, has taught us that we should love one another. Why then is this kind of love in your mind immoral?

Ayn Rand: It is immoral if it is a love placed above oneself. It is more than immoral, it's impossible. Because when you are asked to love everybody indiscriminately. That is to love people without any standard. To love them regardless of whether they have any value or virtue, you are asked to love nobody.

Mike Wallace: But in a sense, in your book you talk about love as if it were a business deal of some kind. Isn't the essence of love, that it is above self-interest?

Ayn Rand: Well, What would it mean to have a love above self-interest? It would mean, for instance, that a husband would tell his wife, if he were moral according to the conventional morality, that I am marrying you just for your own sake, I have no personal interest in it, but I'm so unselfish, that I am marrying you only for your own good.

Mike Wallace: Should husbands and wives tally up...

Ayn Rand: Would any woman like that? I agree with you that it should be treated like a business deal. But every business deal has to have its own terms and its own kind of currency. And in love the currency is virtue. You love people, not for what you do for them, or what they do for you. You love them for their values, their virtues. You don't love causes. You don't love everybody indiscriminately. You love only those who deserve it. Man has free will. If a man wants love he should correct his flaws, and he may deserve it. But he cannot expect the unearned.

Mike Wallace: There are very few us then in this world, by your standards, who are worthy of love.

Ayn Rand: Unfortunately.... yes... very few. But it is open to everybody, to make themselves worthy of it and that is all that my morality offers them. [CROSSTALK] A way to make themselves worthy of love, although that's not the primary motive.

Mike Wallace: Isn’t it possible that we are all basically lonely people and we are all basically our brothers’ keepers?

Ayn Rand: Nobody has ever given a reason why men should be their brothers' keepers, and you see the examples around you, of men perishing by the attempt to be their brothers' keepers.

Mike Wallace: You have no faith in anything.

Ayn Rand: Faith.... No.

Mike Wallace: Only in your mind.

Ayn Rand: That is not faith. That is a conviction. Yes..... I have no faith at all. I only hold convictions.

Mike Wallace: As we said at the outset, "If Ayn Rand's ideas were ever to take hold, they would revolutionize the world." And to those who would reject her philosophy, Miss Rand hurls this challenge. "For the past 2000 years the world has been dominated by other philosophies. Look around you, consider the results.” We thank Ayn Rand for adding her portrait to our gallery. One of the people other people are interested in. Mike Wallace... Good Bye.

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Something Something Soup Something
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This Game About Soup Highlights How Tricky Language Is
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Something Something Soup Something

Soup, defined by Merriam-Webster as "a liquid food especially with a meat, fish, or vegetable stock as a base and often containing pieces of solid food," is the ultimate simple comfort food. But if you look closer at the definition, you'll notice it's surprisingly vague. Is ramen soup? What about gumbo? Is a soy vanilla latte actually a type of three-bean soup? The subjectivity of language makes this simple food category a lot more complicated than it seems.

That’s the inspiration behind Something Something Soup Something, a new video game that has players label dishes as either soup or not soup. According to Waypoint, Italian philosopher, architect, and game designer Stefano Gualeni created the game after traveling the world asking people what constitutes soup. After interviewing candidates of 23 different nationalities, he concluded that the definition of soup "depends on the region, historical period, and the person with whom you're speaking."

Gualeni took this real-life confusion and applied it to a sci-fi setting. In Something Something Soup Something, you play as a low-wage extra-terrestrial worker in the year 2078 preparing meals for human clientele. Your job is to determine which dishes pass as "soup" and can be served to the hungry guests while avoiding any items that may end up poisoning them. Options might include "rocks with celery and batteries in a cup served with chopsticks" or a "foamy liquid with a candy cane and a cooked egg served in a bowl with a fork."

The five-minute game is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but Gualeni also hopes to get people thinking about real philosophical questions. According to its description page, the game is meant to reveal "that even a familiar, ordinary concept like 'soup' is vague, shifting, and impossible to define exhaustively."

You can try out Something Something Soup Something for free on your browser.

[h/t Waypoint]

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Columbia Pictures
8 Creative Interpretations of Groundhog Day
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Columbia Pictures

In the 24 years since Groundhog Day’s original release, fans have spent plenty of time and precious web bandwidth attempting to decode the alleged layers that exist just below the surface. Groundhog Day as metaphor? These eight theories say yes.

1. BILL MURRAY IS OUR SAVIOR.

Among the first groups to embrace the message of Groundhog Day were Buddhists, who were moved by its story of rebirth. As part of a talk at New York City’s Hudson Union Society in 2009, director Harold Ramis spoke about the many people who had been moved by the film—including his Zen Buddhist mother-in-law.

She isn’t alone. In an essay entitled “Groundhog Day The Movie, Buddhism and Me,” Spiritual Cinema Circle co-founder Stephen Simon calls the film “a wonderful human comedy about being given the rare opportunity to live several lifetimes all in the same day. Of course, that's not how the film was marketed but, for our purposes, I believe that concept is at the soul of the story.” In an interview with The New York Times, Dr. Angela Zito, co-director of NYU's Center for Religion and Media, noted that the film illustrates the Buddhist idea of samsara, or continuing rebirth. “In Mahayana [Buddhism], nobody ever imagines they are going to escape samsara until everybody else does,” she noted. “That is why you have bodhisattvas, who reach the brink of nirvana, and stop and come back and save the rest of us. Bill Murray is the bodhisattva. He is not going to abandon the world. On the contrary, he is released back into the world to save it.”

2. PUNXSUTAWNEY PHIL IS JESUS CHRIST RESURRECTED.

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Bill Murray isn’t the only seemingly otherworldly figure in Groundhog Day. In the same New York Times feature, film critic Michael Bronski noted the Christ-like attributes assigned to Punxsutawney Phil (yes, the groundhog) in the film. “The groundhog is clearly the resurrected Christ, the ever hopeful renewal of life at springtime, at a time of pagan-Christian holidays,” he noted.

3. PUNXSUTAWNEY IS PURGATORY.

In the space between heaven and hell, according to Catholic Church doctrine, is purgatory. And in Groundhog Day, purgatory is the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania itself—a place where Phil Connors must undergo his own brand of purification in order to decide the fate of his afterlife. Blogger Jim Ciscell scoured the Internet to come up with the “Top 10 Reasons Why the Movie Groundhog Day is Actually Set in Purgatory,” which includes Connors’ own assertion in the film that he is “a god.”

4. IT’S A METAPHOR FOR JUDAISM.

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Dr. Niles Goldstein, a rabbi at New York City’s New Shul congregation, sees Connors’ actions as specifically geared toward Judaism, citing the fact that his good deeds beget more good deeds, as opposed to a place in heaven or state of nirvana. “The movie tells us, as Judaism does, that the work doesn't end until the world has been perfected,” Goldstein told The New York Times.

5. IT’S A METAPHOR FOR PSYCHOANALYSIS.

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There aren’t a lot of Hollywood comedies that have gained analytical attention from the psychiatric community—and psychoanalysts in particular. In his talk at the Hudson Union Society, Ramis recalled the number of psychiatric professionals who told him that, “Obviously the movie’s a metaphor for psychoanalysis, because we revisit the same stories and keep reliving these same patterns in our life. And the whole goal of psychoanalysis is to break those patterns of behavior.”

The comparisons have continued. In 2006, the International Journal of Psychoanalysis printed an essay entitled, “Revisiting Groundhog Day: Cinematic Depiction of Mutative Process,” which explained that the film “shows us a man trapped by his narcissistic defenses. The device of repetition becomes a representation of developmental arrest and closure from object relatedness. Repetition also becomes a means of escape from his characterological dilemma. The opportunity to redo and learn from experience—in particular, to love and learn through experience with a good object—symbolizes the redemptive, reparative possibilities in every life.”

6. IT’S A PERFECT COMPARISON FOR MILITARY BOREDOM.

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Shortly after the film’s release, members of the military began using the term “Groundhog Day” as slang, in reference to the monotony of their days. In 1994, the crew of the USS Saratoga, who were deployed to the Adriatic Sea, nicknamed their post “Groundhog Station” for this very reason. In 1996, while speaking to American troops at Tuzla Airfield in Bosnia, then-President Bill Clinton showed he was hip to the lingo (but in a Commander in Chief kind of way) when he noted that, “I am told that some of you have compared life here with the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day, where the same day keeps repeating itself over and over and over again. I'm also told that there are really only two kinds of weather conditions here in Tuzla. When it snows, the mud freezes, and when it rains, the mud thaws. Even the dining hall apparently is in on the act, dishing out the same food every morning and night.” The phrase took a turn for the formal when it was included in The Oxford Handbook of Military Psychology, which contains a chapter on “Boredom: Groundhog Day as Metaphor for Iraq.”

7. GROUNDHOG DAY AS ECONOMIC THEORY.

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In 2006, economist D. W. MacKenzie published an article on “The Economics of Groundhog Day,” noting that the movie “illustrates the importance of the Mises-Hayek paradigm as an alternative to equilibrium economics by illustrating the unreal nature of equilibrium theorizing.” Say what?

“In economic terms the final reliving of the day constitutes what economists refer to as a perfectly competitive equilibrium based on perfect information,” MacKenzie goes on to explain. “With full knowledge of how to realize every possible gain during this day, Connors is able take advantage of every opportunity for gain. The difference between his first time through the day and his final reliving are dramatic. While this is of course only a movie, it does serve to illustrate the wide gulf between the economists' notion of perfectly competitive equilibrium and reality.”

8. IT’S A SELF-HELP BIBLE.

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For motivational speaker Paul Hannam, the key to self-fulfillment can be found in Groundhog Day’s 101 minutes. His book, The Magic of Groundhog Day, forms the basis of his transformative program of self-improvement, which promises to help its users “learn how to unlock the magic of the movie to transform your life at home and at work” and to “break free from repetitive thoughts and behaviors that keep you stuck in a rut.”

This post originally appeared in 2014.

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