Competition LO16746

Srinath Srinivasa (
Thu, 29 Jan 1998 13:59:19 +0530

Replying to LO16737 --

>Why is there is a disparity between the rich and the poor? The basic
>elements are the quality and power of their ideas, their competence, the
>passion with which they work.

I would not agree with that -- completely. I remember to have liked the
books "The Fountainhead", "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Objectivist
Epistemology". However, if we probe deeper, we see that the notion of
objectivism itself cannot be defined in an "objective" manner.
Objectivism seems to be valid within a framework, whose boundaries are
themselves subjective. For instance, objectivism relies heavily on
information being transferred and inferred in the same manner by all the
participants. Take this particular message for instance. There will no
doubt be different intrepretations by different people about the ideas
expressed here.

Ayn Rand proceeds to develop a model based on "selfishness" and money.
(The resultant model is that of capitalism, if I have understood "Atlas
Shrugged" correctly).

But consider these instances--

A company knows that there is a lot of damage to the environment from its
functioning which might have long term impacts on the lives of the people
living in its vicinity (which includes some of the employees of the
company itself). However, by evaluating the costs of addressing this
issue, it finds that it can stand to lose its leadership in its business,
or may have to even go out of business if it ventures into addressing the
problems of the environment. Should it still venture?

Here is a very competent university professor who is passionately attached
to his work. He has a lot of insight into his subject area and is very
competent in solving problems. However, he is not interested in converting
his resources into money; he would rather teach students, or continue on
his research alone. But this attitude of his has led him to be regarded as
a failure by his peers. People around him, who do not have as much
insight, who are not as much competent have -- by means of their money --
control on the resources that the professor gets. Should the professor
continue his research or should he plunge into converting his competence
into money?

The above have little to do with capitalism, communism or socialism per
se. It is more based on the preferences of each individual. I would like
to give the analogy of classical physics and quantum mechanics. Classical
physics assumed an objective evaluation mechanism for defining the
universe. Quantum mechanics, on the contrary bases its model on
probabilities and has even raised questions about the nature of
consciousness (see the works of Penrose or David Bohm) which were once the
prerogative of psychology or even religion. One of the quotes I keep
hearing is that "The (classical) Newtonian model is not so much incorrect
as it is inadequate". Probably the same thing can be said here.
"Objectivism is not so much incorrect as it is inadequate".

There are a class of problems that cannot be directly addressed by
objectivism and competition. Probably systems thinking could provide more
such examples.

Warm regards


Srinath Srinivasa <>

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