References

Ayn Rand (1905-1982)
Excellent article by Stephen R. C. Hicks from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Philosophy: Who Needs It?
Rand's Address To The Graduating Class Of
The United States Military Academy at West Point,
New York - March 6, 1974. An important text.

Introducing Objectivism
A concise statement of Rand's Objectivist principles. Most of this is statement without argument or evidence, but it is certainly direct.

Playboy Interview, 1964
Famous (notorious for some) statement of positions by Rand.

Objectivism Reference Center
An excellent collection of texts and resources on Rand and Objectivist thinkers.

Francisco d'Anconia's Money Speech
A key excerpt from Rand's most ambitious work, Atlas Shrugged.

John Galt's Speech
A key excerpt from Rand's most ambitious work, Atlas Shrugged.

Ayn Rand: About Her Life
Biography and interpretation from Libertarian and Conservative perspectives from the Ayn Rand Institute.

What is Philosophy?
Leonard Peikoff is a foremost interpretor of Rand. This is an excerpt from his book; "Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand."

An Introduction to Objectivism
A video lecture by Leonard Peikoff (requires RealPlayer).

Egoism
The philosophical theory of self-interest explained by Alex Moseley in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Egoism
An excellent article from Robert Shaver in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Ayn Rand Booklist
A listing of Rand's written works available from Amazon.com and other venues.

 

Ayn Rand

Few philosophers have fan clubs and college student groups in their honor. Rand continues to inspire support for (some of) her views and continual interest in her works. Perhaps it is her personal passion and charisma that so effected those around her that continues to impact us. Perhaps it is the expression of her ideas in the form of novels, which make her ideas more accessible to the public than abstract academic text. Possibly it is the fact that so little advanced philosophical theory supports capitalism and self-interest, such that Rand's Objectivism stands as a beacon for those seeking justification for those approaches to society and morality. Whatever the basis Rand is a philosopher with significant influence particularly on U.S.culture (though there are Ayn Rand societies in Japan, Europe, and Russia).

It is ever critical to distinguish between a philosopher and her/his interpretors. Rand is celebrated today by many for her intellectual defense of capitalism and self-interest. In her own time, however, Rand routinely denounced and criticized some of the very commentators who cheered on her promotion of capitalism. In particular, she resisted the movement of American social conservativism that is based in Christianity. For instance:
"I consider National Review the worst and most dangerous magazine in America. The kind of defense that it offers to capitalism results in nothing except the discrediting and destruction of capitalism ... because it ties capitalism to religion. The ideological position of National Review amounts, in effect, to the following: In order to accept freedom and capitalism, one has to believe in God or in some form of religion, some form of supernatural mysticism. Which means that there are no rational grounds on which one can defend capitalism. Which amounts to an admission that reason is on the side of capitalism's enemies, that a slave society or a dictatorship is a rational system, and that only on the ground of mystic faith can one believe in freedom. Nothing more derogatory to capitalism could ever be alleged, and the exact opposite is true. Capitalism is the only system that can be defended and validated by reason." (Playboy Interview; March 1964)

The National Review is a traditional fixture of the American right. Denouncing it's writers as ultimately anti-capitalist was provocative the extreeme. Rand succeeded in alienating many conservatives by her atheism and rejection of religion as the moral basis for humans.

Rather than faith, Rand insisted that reason alone could form the basis of a coherent life. She meant this in the most practical way for everyone. Rand held that the value of an individual life was the supreme value, but that life only had value if the individual was dedicated to a productive task and consciously guided by rational principles. In effect, she held that the only free and morally consistent human being is the philosopher - not the adacademic professional or abstract dreamer, but the individual who takes personal responsibility for their own beliefs.

"A philosophic system is an integrated view of existence. As a human being, you have no choice about the fact that you need a philosophy. Your only choice is whether you define your philosophy by a conscious, rational, disciplined process of thought and scrupulously logical deliberation -- or let your subconscious accumulate a junk heap of unwarranted conclusions, false generalizations, undefined contradictions, undigested slogans, unidentified wishes, doubts and fears, thrown together by chance, but integrated by your subconscious into a kind of mongrel philosophy and fused into a single, solid weight: self-doubt, like a ball and chain in the place where your mind's wings should have grown."
(Ayn Rand, Philosophy: Who Needs It?; 1974)

 

 

 

 


 

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