Nathaniel Branden and Controversy

Did you ever meet someone that you had an immediate positive feeling about -- you really like this person a lot, possibly as a friend, maybe in a romantic context -- and then you discover something about him or her that is 100% at odds with some of your strongly held convictions? Now what?

This article is for those who may experience some of this with Nathaniel Branden. Maybe you've heard good things about how he helped people live the kinds of lives they wanted to; maybe his mission -- " My mission is to inspire readers to honor their life and happiness" -- makes as much sense to you as all the other advice you've received on the subject.


But he was involved for years with Ayn Rand, of all people -- and it ended badly. And he was an atheist! And he advocated free-market capitalism! He was a libertarian, for God's sake! How on Earth could someone with such a past and such values have anything to offer me?

Back to the original issue, this terrific person you've met who has blown your mind by somehow being so great while having such awful beliefs: how do you resolve a situation like this? Assuming the beliefs / values in question are significant, the situation winds up looking something like this:

"This person is terrific. And this belief of mine is also terrific. All people who are truly terrific hold similar beliefs. Therefore this person is terrific and not terrific at the same time. My head just exploded." *

* Ayn Rand, naturally, spoke of this. She referenced Aristotle, who said that a thing cannot be A and non-A at the same time. She also said "Contradictions do not exist. If you think you have found one, check your premises. One of them will be false."