Ayn Rand & Values LO9886

Richard Karash (rkarash@karash.com)
Tue, 9 Sep 1996 22:28:34 -0500 (EST)

Replying to LO9833 --

In a message dated 96-09-08 17:29:54 EDT, you write:

"What was missing, Bill felt, was a fourth V: Virtue."
"I'm not sure that atheism is a natural outgrowth of Rand's
philosophy, but amoralty certainly is and without a moral center action
can certainly be dangerous. "

I recently declined a proposed posting with an good followup point (but
written in too combative a tone). I'll make the missing point and add a
couple of thoughts of my own.

The undistributed post said, more of less, "Virtue - it's very difficult
to say what is virtuous and what isn't. Over the ages, many horrible
things were done to other human beings in the name of virtue."

Now my thoughts...

Yes, virtue is hard to define, and what appears virtuous may be different
at different times and to different people. (We had a long thread here on
whether there are any "Self-Evident Truths" in April/May '96.)

Whatever Ayn Rand's position might be on this, to me it *does* matter
towards what ends we direct our energies. It's clear to me that there are
better and less good things to accomplish. That, for me, it's not just a
matter of working more effectively, more productively, more creatively,
more intelligently, more powerfully.

I work regularly with groups from diverse organizations on systems
thinking and the LO skills... One undercurrent I see in the background is
the idea that the learning organization is about creating whatever results
you want, and therefore it's a selfish (or even amoral) discipline.

In my experience, we can make a lot of progress using the learning
disciplines without getting into the moral and ethical questions. For
many, the basic point of personal mastery ("You can create anything you
want to create... if it's something you care enough about") is thrilling,
liberating, and empowering. But, without the moral compass, added
capability is potentially dangerous, as has been well-said here in this

In my work, I've been treating the moral dimension as an "advanced topic"
for individuals and groups that have gone beyond the basics. I'm wondering
now if this shouldn't be introduced much earlier.

Finally, I've been aware of Ayn Rand for a long time, never read her, and
always carried a vague sense of unease about her message. I've had a much
stronger negative feeling about Werner Erhardt and EST, again without
personal experience. I've found others share my unease. I certainly hope
that ten years from now, people like me aren't reluctant to try out the
learning organization ideas because of a similar sense that it might be
selfish and amoral. If we want this field to be known as serving moral
ends, the we must put our stake in the ground, "This LO stuff produces
results, but there needs to be a moral compass so that our effectiveness
is toward good ends."


Richard Karash ("Rick") | <http://world.std.com/~rkarash> Speaker, Facilitator, Trainer | email: rkarash@karash.com "Towards learning organizations" | Host for Learning-Org Mailing List (617)227-0106, fax (617)523-3839 | <http://world.std.com/~lo>

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