Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Romanticists

Ayn Rand on The Romanticists:

The Romanticists saw their cause primarily as a battle for their right to individuality and—unable to grasp the deepest metaphysical justification of their cause, unable to identify their values in terms of reason—they fought for individuality in terms of feelings, surrendering the banner of reason to their enemies.

There were other, lesser consequences of this fundamental error, all of them symptoms of the intellectual confusion of the age. Groping blindly for a metaphysically-oriented, grand-scale, exalted way of life, the Romanticists, predominantly, were enemies of capitalism, which they regarded as a prosaic, materialistic, "petty bourgeois" system—never realizing that it was the only system that could make freedom, individuality and the pursuit of values possible in practice. Some of them chose to be advocates of socialism; some turned for inspiration to the Middle Ages and became shameless glamorizers of that nightmare era; some ended up where most champions of the non-rational end up: in religion. All of it served to accelerate Romanticism's growing break with reality.

When, in the later half of the nineteenth century, Naturalism rose to prominence and, assuming the mantle of reason and reality, proclaimed the artists' duty to portray "things as they are"-Romanticism did not have much of an opposition to offer.

"What is Romanticism", The Objectivist, p. 645-6

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