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Philosophy put forth by Ayn Rand

Objectivism is a philosophical system developed by Russian-American writer Ayn Rand. Rand first expressed Objectivism in her fiction, most notably The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957), and later in non-fiction essays and books. Leonard Peikoff, a professional philosopher and Rand's designated intellectual heir, later gave it a more formal structure. Rand described Objectivism as "the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute". Peikoff characterizes Objectivism as a "closed system" that is not subject to change.

The Objectivist


"And the Pursuit of Happiness": Nathaniel Branden, RIP, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 12 Dec 2014
Memorial essay, including some personal recollections, with emphasis on Branden's work on self-esteem and self-responsibility, and a preamble on the quoted phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence
At some point, though, I started reading back issues of the Objectivist and Objectivist Newsletter, where I encountered Branden's writings on psychology. They struck me as sound and sensible ... [M]y more orthodox senior Objectivist friends, who were suspicious of Branden, looked at me askance ... [M]y emotional reaction to the book was not what they wanted to hear. (One of Branden's most important contributions would be to show that the Objectivist inclination to disparage emotions constituted a gross misunderstanding of human nature and thus a misapplication of Rand's philosophical fundamentals.)
Ayn Rand (1905–1982), by Cato Institute, Mar 2003
One of the "Three Women Who Launched a Movement" articles, celebrating during Women's History Month the 60th anniversary of the publication of The Fountainhead (as well as Rose Wilder Lane and Isabel Paterson books published in the same year)
The novel ... Atlas Shrugged set out to illustrate the conflict between two diametrically opposed moral and political philosophies. One is altruism, which on Rand's conception is the principle that ethical conduct consists in living to serve others ... Rand connects that morality to political collectivism and tyranny ... Their opponents, led by Taggart, Rearden, and the enigmatic John Galt, exemplify Rand's own philosophy of Objectivism. In an ambitious and unorthodox move, Rand places at the book's climax a 60-page speech by Galt, in which her theory is laid out in detail.
Interview with David Kelley, by David Kelley, Raymie Stata, Full Context, Jun 1993
Topics discussed include: the Institute for Objectivist Studies, ties between IOS and classical liberal institutions, the Objectivism movement, the split with the Ayn Rand Institute, the marketplace of ideas, open questions in philosophy, and psychology
One of the problems historically with Objectivism is that it is a broad, systematic philosophy but often does not address the kinds of very specific technical questions that are being discussed in philosophy or psychology or economics. Now, some of these questions are just invalid from a philosophic standpoint. But as a student ... what do you do then if you're asked to write a paper about a topic? We try to counsel students on proper methodology in these cases. But also, some of these questions are perfectly valid and we try to show how to build a bridge from Objectivism's basic principles to those specific issues.
John Hospers - Hero of the Day, The Daily Objectivist, 2000
Biographical profile published by The Daily Objectivist; highlights of Hospers' "Memories of Ayn Rand", followed by two excerpts from his Full Context interview
Unlike most of Rand's intellectual companions of those years, Hospers was no 'student of Objectivism,' no callow youth to be intellectually molded by her will. ... When I finish reading those ten pages [Hospers' favorite scene in Atlas Shrugged] aloud to the class, half of them don't understand it or don't care, and the other half is thunderstruck—they have been hit over the head with new ideas, which they have never heard before, and they don't quite know how to handle it or what to do about it. Many a future Objectivist has taken root from that reading in my class—and I've done it annually for about thirty years.
Related Topics: John Hospers, Ayn Rand
The Libertarians' Albatross, by Butler Shaffer, 3 Nov 2004
Recounts Shaffer's introduction to objectivism and provides critical analysis of the philosophy's shortcomings, highlighting Objectivists support of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars and the "war on terror" and disregard of innocent casualties
One would have hoped that the Objectivist philosophy–with its stated emphasis on "reason," "individualism," "liberty," and hostility to "collectivism" and "statism"–might have provided a base for understanding and resisting the collective insanity of our politicized world. But ... Rand's philosophy is infected with the same virus as other destructive belief systems: the insistence upon the doctrine of absolute truth. Being "objectively" true, Rand's philosophy has shown little tolerance for alternative views. Those who differed with Ms. Rand's conclusions were labeled "irrational."
Movie Review: The Incredibles, by Wendy McElroy, 2 Apr 2005
Review of The Incredibles, including commentary from other media and some of its Objectivist influences
The adults are asking whether Brad Bird, director and scriptwriter, is an Objectivist. Is the movie's aggressive defense of excellence derived from Ayn Rand and her novels? ... In the New York Times, reviewer A.O. Scott declares, "The intensity with which 'The Incredibles' advances its central idea suggests a thorough, feverish immersion in both the history of American comic books and the philosophy of Ayn Rand." ... The Objectivist Adam Reed has aptly referred to The Incredibles as "an Objectivist morality tale, one that I wish had been available back when I was bringing up a child."
Related Topics: Ayn Rand, The Incredibles
Murray, the LP, and Me, by David Bergland, 25 Dec 2002
Lengthy autobiographical essay, focusing on Murray Rothbard, libertarianism and the Libertarian Party; reprinted in Walter Block's I Chose Liberty (2010)
During the sixties, Rand, Branden and the Objectivists were a big factor in my libertarian education, although they didn't call themselves libertarians. Living in Southern California, I could not attend the New York-based Nathaniel Branden Institute lectures until they came out on tape ... An authorized agent of NBI would rent a space ... to attend the taped lectures ... I recall that a friend and I, neither of the deadly serious persuasion, had fun, enjoyable discussions [afterwards], with copious laughter. Others were offended by our lack of seriousness. That made it even funnier.
New Zealand's New Zealots, by R. W. Bradford, Liberty, Mar 1997
Examines the two New Zealand political parties with libertarian tendencies—the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers (ACT) and the Libertarianz, including the animosity between them; addendum to the main article "Revolution in a Small Country"
Perigo was a conventional socialist until 1980 when he, in his words, "encountered some crackpot writer named Ayn Rand and became weird [himself]." ... In 1994, he launched The Free Radical, a delightful political magazine publishing a variety of libertarian thinking, with an emphasis on Objectivism ... Given Perigo's wit, it surprised me to learn that his libertarianism has its roots in Objectivism. In New Zealand, unlike the U.S., involvement with Objectivism does not generally involve a humorectomy ... The Deputy Leader of the Libertarianz is Deborah Coddington, another Objectivist.
Related Topics: Libertarianism, New Zealand
Objectivism as a Religion: Part One: Philosophical Passion, by George H. Smith, The Daily Objectivist, 30 Mar 2000
First of six excerpts, previously published in Atheism, Ayn Rand, and Other Heresies (1991); an even earlier version appeared in Invictus in 1972
Considering that Rand's philosophy of Objectivism is diametrically opposed to religion in letter and spirit, a 'religious' adherence to Objectivism itself may appear paradoxical. But the phenomenon of religious Objectivism is fairly common, as anyone familiar with Rand's more ardent followers can attest. The most extreme form of religious Objectivism occurs in those evangelical, intolerant, true-believing Randians who, through some quirk of fate, missed their true calling as Christian missionaries. ... Thinking for oneself is hard work, so true believers recite catechisms and denounce heretics instead.
Related Topic: Ayn Rand
Objectivist Ethics in the Information-Age Economy, by Nathaniel Branden, Navigator, Feb 2001
After reviewing human progress, from hunter to farmer to laborer to thinker, argues that what he calls "Objectivist ethics" are more relevant to current society
The values and virtues that I have in mind include rationality, realism, respect for facts, self-esteem, independence, autonomy, initiative, creativity, innovativeness, self-responsibility, personal integrity—all of which are celebrated in The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged ... However, should the Objectivist ethics ever gain widespread social acceptance, you may be sure of one thing—it will not be called "the Objectivist ethics." It will be called, "Well, of course. It's obvious. Wake up, man, don't you realize this is the twenty-first century? What we're talking about—it's only common sense."
Playboy Interview: Ayn Rand, by Ayn Rand, Alvin Toffler, Playboy, Mar 1964
Topics discussed include objectivism ethics, guilt, having a productive or creative purpose, emotions, women and family, romantic love, sex, marriage, religion, compassion, other writers, government, various politicians and altruism
Objectivism ... begins with the axiom that existence exists, which means that an objective reality exists independent of any perceiver or of the perceiver's emotions, feelings, wishes, hopes or fears. Objectivism holds that reason is man's only means of perceiving reality and his only guide to action. By reason, I mean the faculty, which identifies and integrates the material provided by man's senses.
The Power of Persuasion, by Jeff Riggenbach, Mises Daily, 20 May 2011
Historical account of the Persuasion magazine, edited by Joan Kennedy Taylor between Sept 1964 and May 1968
Leonard Peikoff ... was Barbara Branden's cousin and a member of Ayn Rand's inner circle. Henry Mark Holzer was Ayn Rand's attorney; he and his wife Phyllis were contributors to Rand's monthly, The Objectivist. So was Robert Hessen ... As for Martin Anderson, ... he too had contributed to The Objectivist Newsletter. As Joan herself put it in her 2004 interview with Duncan Scott of the Objectivist History Project, the National Conference on Forced Service "was very much an Objectivist front." It was a very successful Objectivist front to boot.
Rand, Ayn (1905-1982), by Chris Matthew Sciabarra, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical and bibliographical essay, also examining Rand's relationships with several leading thinkers
In Atlas Shrugged, [Rand] presented the rudiments of a systematic philosophy that she later termed Objectivism. Her philosophy rested on the premise that reality is what it is, independent of what human beings think or feel, and that reason is the only means of knowing it. Rand defended objective values, viewing human life as the standard by which to judge good and evil ... In the years after Atlas Shrugged, Rand worked with her closest associate, Nathaniel Branden, who organized the Nathaniel Branden Institute to disseminate the principles of Objectivism.
The Story of Roy A. Childs Jr. (1949–1992), by Jeff Riggenbach, 21 Jan 2011
Biographical essay; transcript of "The Libertarian Tradition" podcast of 12 Jan 2011
[As] Joan [Kennedy Taylor] recalled,
... in the Spring of 1968 Rampart Journal brought out his first published article, "The Contradiction in Objectivism."
The "contradiction" that Childs believed was bedeviling Objectivism from within was essentially the same one Murray Rothbard had identified about a decade earlier: if you followed Ayn Rand's arguments about the nature of government and individual rights to their logical conclusion, you would have to conclude that the state was an illegitimate institution that should be abolished.
Why We Consent to Oppression, by Peter Breggin, Reason, Sep 1977
Examines the questions posed by La Boétie in his "Discourse on Voluntary Servitude" from a psychological perspective, particularly how childhood self-suppression leads most adults to more easily accept government oppression
The failure to recognize love as separable from esteem is the major theoretical failure of Objectivism. Objectivism bases human value wholly upon human accomplishment. When Randian characters fall in their own esteem, the bottom falls out of their value for themselves. This is especially obvious in the lives of Ayn Rand's women characters, who start out as non-Objectivists who hate themselves ... [But] they feel hero worship for their more Objectivist men ... Hence the specter of something hateful toward most people in a philosophy allegedly based upon valuing the individual.


Interview with Chris Matthew Sciabarra, by Chris Matthew Sciabarra, Peter Jaworski, 22 Apr 2002
Topics discussed include: Ayn Rand as a dialectical thinker, dialectics (context-keeping), Murray Rothbard, Russia, Mauritania, Rand's feminism, the future of Objectivism and Sciabarra's 2001 cyberseminar "Dialectics and Liberty"
Some Objectivist's would respond that revisionism would entail an essential destruction of Rand's core system. How would you respond to that?
... If Objectivism is strong ... then it can and must sustain all the rigor of dialogue among people with different perspectives. ... every aspect of a philosophical system must be subject to discussion and debate if it is to become a force in the world of ideas. Over time, it will be possible to sort out among those who retain the core of Rand's ideas, while differing in details - and those who have dispensed with the core of her ideas and have no right to the label "Objectivism".
UpdInterview with Nathaniel Branden, by Nathaniel Branden, Karen Reedstrom, Full Context, Sep 1996
In two parts; topics range from David Kelley, objectivism, Ayn Rand, his memoir Judgment Day, Barbara Branden, Leonard Peikoff, homosexuality, self-esteem and more
Branden: ... In the real world "Objectivism" stands for a set of ideas formulated by Rand ... They are intellectual tools ... It's unrealistic to think one can freeze that philosophy into a static set of concepts and insist that no further implication, derived from the same base, is "Objectivism." We may not call our new thoughts "Objectivism," if we wish to stress that they were not originated by Rand, but we may certainly insist they are entailed or implied by Objectivist premises—for example, the importance of benevolence in human dealings, benevolence taken seriously as a virtue.
Lindsay Perigo Interviews Barbara Branden, by Barbara Branden, Lindsay Perigo, 17 Apr 2002
Branden answers questions about New Zealand and her then forthcoming visit, the 11 Sep 2001 attacks, Ayn Rand, objectivism and factionalism within the objectivist movement
What's your view of the state of the Objectivist movement today ...?
I think the Objectivist movement is doing very well. The most important sign is the many serious books that are published about Objectivism, even those that are opposed to it ... There scarcely is an elementary, high school, or university in this country that does not include one or more of Ayn Rand's books in its curriculum. I constantly hear from young people—seventh grade and up—that they became interested in Objectivism when one or more of her books were included in their literature or philosophy courses.


The Ayn Rand Lexicon: Objectivism from A to Z
    by Harry Binswanger (editor), 1986
Covers about 400 topics, organized alphabetically, with excerpts of Rand's writings on the relevant topic, annotated to the original sources
Related Topic: Ayn Rand
Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand
    by Leonard Peikoff, 1991
Contents: Preface - Reality - Sense Perception and Volition - Concept-Formation - Objectivity - Reason - Man - The Good - Virtue - Happiness - Government - Capitalism - Art - Epilogue: The Duel Between Plato and Aristotle
Related Topic: Ayn Rand
The Objectivism Research CD ROM: The Works of Ayn Rand
    by Leonard Peikoff, Ayn Rand, 2001
Partial contents: Anthem - We The Living - The Fountainhead - Atlas Shrugged - The Objectivist - The Objectivist Newsletter - The Virtue of Selfishness - For the New Intellectual - Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal - The New Left - The Romantic Manifesto
The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought
    by Ayn Rand, 1988
Partial contents: One: Philosophy - Introducing Objectivism - To Young Scientists - Two: Culture - The Intellectual Bankruptcy of Our Age - Our Cultural Value-Deprivation - Three: Politics - Representation Without Authorization - The Pull Peddlers

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Objectivism (Ayn Rand)" as of 14 Oct 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.