Playboy Interview

 Posted by on 14 May 2009 at 11:01 pm  Ethics, Objectivism
May 142009

Ayn Rand’s interview with Playboy is now available on the Playboy web site. I was going to select just one or two particularly good exchanges to reproduce here, but too many struck me as interesting. You’ll just have to read the whole thing — but here are two on emotions to whet your appetite:

PLAYBOY: Couldn’t the attempt to rule whim out of life, to act in a totally rational fashion, be viewed as conducive to a juiceless, joyless kind of existence?

RAND: I truly must say that I don’t know what you are talking about. Let’s define our terms. Reason is man’s tool of knowledge, the faculty that enables him to perceive the facts of reality. To act rationally means to act in accordance with the facts of reality. Emotions are not tools of cognition. What you feel tells you nothing about the facts; it merely tells you something about your estimate of the facts. Emotions are the result of your value judgments; they are caused by your basic premises, which you may hold consciously or subconsciously, which may be right or wrong. A whim is an emotion whose cause you neither know nor care to discover. Now what does it mean, to act on whim? It means that a man acts like a zombi, without any knowledge of what he deals with, what he wants to accomplish, or what motivates him. It means that a man acts in a state of temporary insanity. Is this what you call juicy or colorful? I think the only juice that can come out of such a situation is blood. To act against the facts of reality can result only in destruction.

PLAYBOY: Should one ignore emotions altogether, rule them out of one’s life entirely?

RAND: Of course not. One should merely keep them in their place. An emotion is an automatic response, an automatic effect of man’s value premises. An effect, not a cause. There is no necessary clash, no dichotomy between man’s reason and his emotions–provided he observes their proper relationship. A rational man knows–or makes it a point to discover–the source of his emotions, the basic premises from which they come; if his premises are wrong, he corrects them. He never acts on emotions for which he cannot account, the meaning of which he does not understand. In appraising a situation, he knows why he reacts as he does and whether he is right. He has no inner conflicts, his mind and his emotions are integrated, his consciousness is in perfect harmony. His emotions are not his enemies, they are his means of enjoying life. But they are not his guide; the guide is his mind. This relationship cannot be reversed, however. If a man takes his emotions as the cause and his mind as their passive effect, if he is guided by his emotions and uses his mind only to rationalize or justify them somehow–then he is acting immorally, he is condemning himself to misery, failure, defeat, and he will achieve nothing but destruction–his own and that of others.

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha