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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.