Ayn Rand 1905-1982 Born in Russia, educated under communists Escaped 1926 to America b/c it represented her individualist philosophy
Anthem (1938) • This novelette depicts a world of the future, a society so collectivized that even the word "I" has vanished from the language.Anthem's theme is: the meaning and glory of man's ego.
Anthem • Written in 1937 as a novelette about the essence of collectivism • Published in England in 1938, America in 1946
Theme • “It is a sin to write this. It is a sin to think words no others think and put them down upon paper no others are to see… there is no transgression blacker than to do or think alone.”
Theme • This quote begins Anthem which according to Rand expresses the meaning of man’s ego. • The story is about an individual imprisoned in the collective; how it can happen; what ideas must one accept for it to be possible.
Theme • It is both depressing as it represents people in such a society and it is hopeful in the triumph of the human spirit for those who are brave enough to reject the ethics of collectivism, no matter the cost.
Collectivism • The subjugation of the individual to a group – whether to a race, class, or state does not matter • All thought and action must be “for the common good” • The individual has no right to lead his own life • The individual has no right to pursue his own happiness, or use his own property • An individual’s worth is determined by his service to the group
Individualism • Every man is an independent, sovereign entity who possesses aninalienable rightto his own life. • A civilized society can only be achieved on the basis of the recognition ofindividual rights. • Groups possess no right separate from the individual members. • Individualism does not mean one can do whatever he feels like doing; it means every man is an individual and has the same rights.
Altruism • Man has no right to exist for his own sake. • Service to others is the only justification of his existence. • Self-sacrifice is the highest moral duty, virtue, and value…which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of good.
Selflessness • Defined as “Lack of Self” • No one has a name • No one should prefer one person over another • It is wrong to disagree, to question, to have independent thought • Individual has no rights
Selflessness • Without self one must abstain from thinking and simply obey the leaders • When individual identity and thought are obliterated, a society of mindless robots with no motivation, no ambition, no hope emerges. • Nothing is created because there is no room for creativity.
Egoism • Defined as “being concerned with one’s own interests” • Each man’sprimary moral obligationis to achievehis own welfare, well-being, or self-interest. • Man shouldbe “selfish” in the sense of being the beneficiary of his own moral actions.
Egoism • For example: • Having Ambition • Wanting things for one’s self • Wanting to learn • Wanting a career that makes you happy • Thinking for one’s self • Loving another person of choice
Conformity • The act or habit of bringing oneself into harmony or agreement with others; adhering to conventional behavior.
Obedience • Complying with a command; yielding to those in authority.
Independence • Acceptance of the responsibility of forming one’s own judgments and living by the work of one’s own mind.
Free Will • Advocates that people • can make choices, • can make up their own minds, • can direct their own lives by the ideas and values they adopt
Determinism • Advocates that people are by nature in the grip of forces beyond their control • For example: Race, the Stars, Instincts
ANTHEM & Free Will • The story shows what it means to have Free Will • They are Robots by CHOICE • The Protagonist will exercise his free will by making a different choice
Other Terms to Know • Totalitarianism • Romanticism • Realism • Naturalism • Abdicate • Objectivism
Setting/Point of View • Romantic Realism • The story is REALIST because these are REAL PROBLEMS of normal people (Not monsters, superheroes, or robots) • The story is Romantic b/c it is not about every day trivia or the boy next door • It is instead about the “fundamental universal problems and values of human existence.” • Romanticism contrasts with Naturalism which holds that people are crushed by forces over which they have NO CONTROL (FATE)
Setting/Point of View • Point of View First Person Plural (Diary Entries) • Story begins in the distant future • Protagonist is in the late teens or early twenties • Totalitarian Society –Government controls every aspect of every individual’s life from cradle to grave.
Expectation is to expend one’s life for the needs of the society, never a moment for one’s self. • If one’s usefulness is gone, he is a burden and should not live. • Because no one has personal desires, the authorities need no threats or force to rule.
Anyone who doubts his society feels guilty about doubting. • The society has no industry or technology. • The protagonist struggles to understand (man vs. society).
Sequence of the Life in Anthem Society • Each is conceived in the Palace of Mating • Young years are spent in the Home of Infants • Formative years are lived in the Home of Students • After being assigned a vocation, individuals are placed in special homes according to vocation • Old Age is spent in the Home of the Useless
Why are we reading this? • Anthem explores ethical and political questions which concern YOU! • Who are you? • Is it possible to stand on your own?
Why are we reading this? • It asks questions about society such as : • If you could choose the best society to have, what would it be? • How would you describe a moral and just society?
Why are we reading this? • Does your life now belong to a group? • Do you have the right to pursue your own happiness? And to what degree? • Can a society without freedom be productive?
Next Step • As YOU read, notice how these concepts are illustrated through plot development in Anthem. • Consider how the real world connects with the philosophical issues presented in the novel. • Read Critically, agree with what is acceptable to you. • Disagree with what offends your values or beliefs.
Next Step • Because you read a book does not mean you are to accept the author’s ideas if they are offensive to you. • Do not accept blindly! • Learn to justify and argue a good case for that which you truly believe.