Alan Greenspan had to be convinced that he existed before meeting Ayn Rand
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan once doubted his own existence.
A friend had to convince Greenspan that he actually existed prior to a meeting with Ayn Rand in the 1950s.
Nathaniel Branden told the story about Greenspan in the BBC 2 documentary “All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace,” according to The Spectator. Part one of the three part series premiered Monday.
“You have to realize that Alan Greenspan was, and is, a brilliant mind doing brilliant things in the real world but in his 20s he is sitting with me in my apartment telling me that he cannot say with certainty that he exists, he cannot say for certain that I exist and he cannot say for certain that this conversation exists,” Branden recalled.
“That aside he’s got lots of opinions about everything… My challenge became to persuade him that he can be certain that he exists,” he explained.
Branden eventually did introduce Greenspan to Rand, but at first she wasn’t impressed.
“Ayn did not like him at all, but Nathaniel did and began discussing ideas with him,” Branden’s wife, Barbara, told filmmaker Adam Curtis. “Every Saturday we met to hear what Ayn had written of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ that week. Finally, Nathaniel persuaded Ayn to include Alan in that and he loved the book and became a loyal member of her collective.”
The group converted Greenspan from his philosophy of logic and positivism to Rand’s philosophy of objectivism — that “[man’s] highest moral purpose is the achievement of his own happiness… Each man must live as an end in himself and follow his own self-interest.” He would later write essays supporting objectivism for Rand’s 1966 book “Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal.”
In the wake of a worldwide economic meltdown in 2008, Greenspan admitted that he had made a “mistake” in believing that banks, acting in their own self interest, would do what was right to protect the public.
Greenspan explained to Congress that it was “a flaw in the model… that defines how the world works.”
Watch this trailer from BBC 2’s All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace.
h/t: Business Insider