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Over the years, I have taken a lot of flak from people regarding my acceptance of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. Especially in recent months, has this increased. People aren’t willing to learn about that which they fear, regardless of the rationality of that which they fear. I guess this is the irony of Objectivism itself.
I have promoted the book, The Virtue of Selfishness, by Ayn Rand to many, many people. Only a handful have bought it, even fewer have read some of it, and I doubt any have read it all. But this little book clarified for me the thinking/feeling I knew to be true in the depths of my self, perhaps my soul. I recall tears streaming down my face from the beauty of Ayn Rand’s words — I couldn’t believe there was another human alive who could understand and explain that which I knew to be truth.
Here is a link to a short little video that gives a VERY high-level overview of what Objectivism is: https://youtu.be/asery3UeBj4
Here is a great explanation of Objectivism, right from www.AynRand.org I hope it helps you understand, and perhaps even prompts you to study Ayn Rand and Objectivism further. I am certain that in 200-300 years from now, she will be elevated to one of the highest places in history, as a result of her teachings having changed the world.
REALITY: “Wishing won’t make it so”
Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism, begins by embracing the basic fact that existence exists. Reality is, and in the quest to live we must discover reality’s nature and learn to act successfully in it.
To exist is to be something, to possess a specific identity. This is the Law of Identity: A is A. Facts are facts, independent of any consciousness. No amount of passionate wishing, desperate longing or hopeful pleading can alter the facts. Nor will ignoring or evading the facts erase them: the facts remain, immutable.
In Rand’s philosophy, reality is not to be rewritten or escaped, but, solemnly and proudly, faced. One of her favorite sayings is Francis Bacon’s: “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.”
Reality — that which exists — has no alternatives, no competitors, nothing “transcending” it. To embrace existence is to reject all notions of the supernatural and the mystical, including God.
REASON: “You can’t eat your cake and have it, too”
The essential advice of Rand’s philosophy is: embrace reason as an absolute. This means: choose to face the facts at all times, in all areas, whether at work or at home, in business or in love — and no matter what conclusion logically ensues, whether pleasant or unpleasant.
The purpose of epistemology is to help teach us how to reason: how to think conceptually, how to properly define our terms, how to form and apply principles.
Reason doesn’t work automatically. We have to choose to activate our minds, to set them in motion, to direct them to the task of understanding the facts, and to actively perform the steps that such understanding requires. Our basic choice in life is “to think or not.”
To choose to follow reason, Rand argues, is to reject emotions, faith or any form of authoritarianism as guides in life.
SELF-INTEREST: “Man is an end in himself”
Why does man need morality?
The typical answer is that we must learn to deny our own interests and happiness in order to serve God or other people — and morality will teach us to do this.
Rand’s answer is radically different. The purpose of morality, she argues, is to teach us what is in our self-interest, what produces happiness.
“Man has,” she observes, “no automatic code of survival. . . . His senses do not tell him automatically what is good for him or evil, what will benefit his life or endanger it, what goals he should pursue and what means will achieve them, what values his life depends on, what course of action it requires.”
This is what the science of ethics studies — and what Objectivism offers. “Man must choose his actions, values and goals,” she summarizes, “by the standard of that which is proper to man — in order to achieve, maintain, fulfill and enjoy that ultimate value, that end in itself, which is his own life.”
CAPITALISM: “GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH!”
The ideal social system, Rand holds, is laissez-faire capitalism. Economically, this means not today’s mixture of freedom and government controls but “a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.”
Rand’s advocacy of laissez-faire capitalism is a consequence of her deeper philosophical views. An individual who eagerly faces reality, who embraces his own rational mind as an absolute, and who makes his own life his highest moral purpose will demand his freedom. He will demand the freedom to think and speak, to earn property and associate and trade, and to pursue his own happiness.
Laissez-faire capitalism, Rand argues, is the system of individual rights. In such a system the government has only one function, albeit a vital one: to protect the rights of each individual by placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control.
Ayn Rand, the author of Atlas Shrugged, The Virtue of Selfishness, and several other incredible books, has had many quotes attributed to her. Here are my two favorite, at this time of my life:
Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible. It’s yours. — Ayn Rand
Every time I read this, I get some energy to press on and achieve even greater than ever before!
“I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”
This one keeps me reminded of what to allow and expect of other people, and the standard I need to hold myself to.
Here’s a website of additional quotes by Ayn Rand: http://www.ayn-rand-quotes.com/ayn-rand-quotes/
Another old post, from January 2007:
I recently reread a fascinating little book, which I had originally read 15 years ago, called Acres of Diamonds. It is a written copy of a speech given by Dr. Russell H. Conwell in approximately 1910. Reading this insightful book really helped me recently.
Dr. Conwell works diligently throughout his speech to explain that there are an unlimited number of opportunities sitting right in front of each of us, just waiting to be noticed and implemented. All one needs to do is look at what is needed and do something about filling the need.
He talks about MANY people who started simply filling a simple need, such as the poor man out of work in Hingham, MA who whittled children’s toys out of his firewood and eventually is rumored to have become the richest man in Massachusetts selling his amazing toys. Or a woman in New Britain, CT who invented the snapping button because her regular button had gotten stuck in the hole one time.
He tells a funny story about a man from PA who wanted so badly to work for his cousin in the oil business (and get rich) that he studied hard, sold his farm for $833.00, and moved to Canada to work in the oil business. Amazingly, the man who bought his farm found that the previous owner had put a plank across a brook of scum to cross. It turns out that the scum was actually oil and the farm produced over $1 billion over its lifetime!!
He also does a great job of explaining how making money is a good thing and is in no way something to be ashamed of or bashful about.
What’s this go to do with the Internet?!? Well, just before I read this book, I had been thinking recently that it seems the Internet opportunity of the past had dried up. It felt to me that every great idea had already been taken and fully exploited, and that any worthwhile venture would take an enormous amount of money to accomplish because the Internet standards and expectations had been raised so high.
However, after reading this little book, it became clear to me that at ANY TIME IN LIFE, especially RIGHT NOW, there are opportunities sitting RIGHT IN FRONT OF US just waiting for us to pick them up and take advantage of them. Often these opportunities are hidden because they’re SO close that we don’t even see them.
So, this book really changed my outlook and shifted my paradigm such that I’m starting to see new and interesting things already right in front of me. Like most successes, these things I’m seeing are not at first earth-shattering or monumental, but little things I can do (and am doing) to fill a need or make something better in what I already do.
Amazingly, in the past 2 weeks, I’m already noticing improved results beginning to appear in an exponential way – small at first, but almost growing as if they have a life of their own.
I’m really interested in your ideas regarding the INTERNET Acres of Diamonds sitting right in front of us. Please read this little story and let me know if it changes your insight, as it did mine. I’d enjoy reading your comments.
Another old blog post from 2006:
I’m reading The New PsychoCybernetics now, on audio-book (from Audible. I had read this book back when I was a kid (picked it up from a tag sale) and then again when I was in my 20’s (recommended by Worldwide Dreambuilders). Both times it seemed very different.
I’m reading it again, on the advice of my business coach. I thought it would feel like an old repeat, but it doesn’t. In fact, it seems like a completely new book! Perhaps this is because much of it has been updated or maybe its because I’ve changed again.
So far, I’m at chapter 3. The basic concept is that we’re built for success. Just like an animal, which has instincts for success, we too have success ‘instincts.’ However, ours are in the form of the goal-seeking mechanisms in our brains.
Simply put, if we accurately create a strong goal in our brains, we can’t help but accomplish it. Unfortunately, many people either don’t focus on goals or focus on negative thoughts. In either case, they bring about the failure they dwell upon.
A recent article I read from Self-Realization Fellowship spoke of the same topic, from the perspective of fear. If we allow our minds to focus on something we fear, we will actually increase the odds of that event occurring. Instead, we need to focus on that which we want. When fear comes into our minds, we need to consciously put it aside and return focus to our goals.