Friday, January 05, 2007

The Passion of James Valliant's Criticism: Contraditions Galore

The first part of chapter 2 is a lengthy discussion of various alleged contradictions within and between the Brandens’ accounts. Valliant starts with two quotes from Barbara Branden where she describes Rand’s view the value of intelligence. One quote appears to say that Rand didn’t value people unless they had unusual intelligence. The other quote indicates that Rand believed that simple people could understand complex ideas with some help and she greatly valued the simple person who wanted to learn. (PARC, pp. 15-16.) Only taken in the most wooden manner are these quotes contradictory. Here is what Branden says: “where she saw no unusual intelligence—nor the capacity for dedicated productive work its consequences—she saw no value that meant anything to her in personal terms.” (For some reason, Valliant places ellipses in the place of “nor the capacity for dedicated productive work its consequences.”) She then discusses how Rand never said as a significant compliment such things as “he’s generous” or “he’s kind.” (PAR, p. 7.)

In other words, people with average intelligence, who weren’t interested in learning, weren’t of value to Rand. And if Branden meant what Valliant claims she meant, it is hard to imagine her loving description of Rand explaining metaphysics to a student, a gardener, or a housekeeper.

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