Our actions don’t always reflect our will or even our consciousness.
I don’t deny free will, but complete free will. We have partial free will, given some of our actions contradict what value we believe in e.g. an honest man who is hungry is forced to steal. Our actions are not independent of natural laws, social circumstance and our genetics.
So we have free will in the sense that a chicken has free will. It’s partial, very much influenced by external world and own pre-birth physical, mental limitations. We like to think of ourselves something beyond the chain of evolution and interconnection of species. But we’re not that special. Like other fellow animals we make use of limited choices we have. Not to mention our subconscious which also drives our decision making, behaviors, actions, and we’re not even aware of it.
The virtues she’s talking about such as knowledge and inner-serenity are useless if goodwill is absent, which is the prime virtue. You can have all other virtues in vain. We see everyday how people who have knowledge of their wrongdoings continue to do it, for the lack of goodwill.
The assertion that “nothing” is given to humans or no inheritance is just her lack of knowledge in evolution and, probably she could have demonstrated her own free will and try to quit smoking cigarettes after cigarettes to make herself better instead of virtue signalling. Practice what you preach. Nothing and everything – when you see these words be very careful. Free Will or no free will at all, no, it doesn’t have to be black and white. We need to be flexible enough to create hybrid outcomes. The main point of her statement, to give us readers a sense of power that we can change anything about ourselves using free will, is a gross oversimplification as we only have limited free will. We may think we have complete free in the context of other people, but we are not free of our genetic instincts, luck, circumstances, elements in our environment outside of our control. We are a part of this universe, we’re all part of one thread.
Such statements from Ayn Rand sells books. Those got her a cult following who are not able to have the will to challenge her ideas anymore.
A false sense of power will create monsters. Instead, we should abandon these fancy statements, embrace responsibility despite imperfection and try to make right choices, where we have a choice. Complete free will, forget it. We can dream about that while walking “aimlessly” but never going to see it in our actions.