Ayn Rand - Philosophy

Philosophy

Objectivist movement
Philosophy Objectivism
Rational egoism
Individualism
Capitalism
Romantic realism
Organizations Ayn Rand Institute
Atlas Society
Nathaniel Branden Institute
Objectivist Party
Libertarianz
Theorists Ayn Rand
Andrew Bernstein
Harry Binswanger
Nathaniel Branden · Yaron Brook
Allan Gotthelf · David Kelley
Tibor R. Machan
Leonard Peikoff · George Reisman
John Ridpath · Richard Salsman
Tara Smith
Literature Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
For the New Intellectual
Introduction to
Objectivist Epistemology
The New Left
Objectivism: The Philosophy of
Ayn Rand
Philosophy: Who Needs It
The Romantic Manifesto
The Virtue of Selfishness
The Voice of Reason
Objectivist periodicals
Journal of Ayn Rand Studies
Related topics Libertarianism and Objectivism
Objectivism and homosexuality
Objectivist movement in India
Randian hero
Philosophy portal

Rand called her philosophy "Objectivism", describing its essence 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." She considered Objectivism a systematic philosophy and laid out positions on metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy and esthetics.

In metaphysics, Rand supported philosophical realism, and opposed anything she regarded as mysticism or supernaturalism, including all forms of religion. In epistemology, she considered all knowledge to be based on sense perception, the validity of which she considered axiomatic, and reason, which she described as "the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man's senses". She rejected all claims of non-perceptual or a priori knowledge, including "'instinct,' 'intuition,' 'revelation,' or any form of 'just knowing.'" In her Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Rand presented a theory of concept formation and endorsed the rejection of the analytic–synthetic dichotomy.

In ethics, Rand argued for rational egoism (rational self-interest), as the guiding moral principle. She said the individual should "exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself". She referred to egoism as "the virtue of selfishness" in her book of that title, in which she presented her solution to the is-ought problem by describing a meta-ethical theory that based morality in the needs of "man's survival qua man". She condemned ethical altruism as incompatible with the requirements of human life and happiness, and held that the initiation of force was evil and irrational, writing in Atlas Shrugged that "Force and mind are opposites".

Rand's political philosophy emphasized individual rights (including property rights), and she considered laissez-faire capitalism the only moral social system because in her view it was the only system based on the protection of those rights. She opposed statism, which she understood to include theocracy, absolute monarchy, Nazism, fascism, communism, democratic socialism, and dictatorship. Rand believed that rights should be enforced by a constitutionally limited government. Although her political views are often classified as conservative or libertarian, she preferred the term "radical for capitalism". She worked with conservatives on political projects, but disagreed with them over issues such as religion and ethics. She denounced libertarianism, which she associated with anarchism. She rejected anarchism as a naïve theory based in subjectivism that could only lead to collectivism in practice.

Rand's esthetics defined art as a "selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's metaphysical value-judgments". According to Rand, art allows philosophical concepts to be presented in a concrete form that can be easily grasped, thereby fulfilling a need of human consciousness. As a writer, the art form Rand focused on most closely was literature, where she considered Romanticism to be the approach that most accurately reflected the existence of human free will. She described her own approach to literature as "romantic realism".

Rand acknowledged Aristotle as her greatest influence and remarked that in the history of philosophy she could only recommend "three A's"—Aristotle, Aquinas, and Ayn Rand. She also found early inspiration in Friedrich Nietzsche, and scholars have found indications of his influence in early notes from Rand's journals, in passages from the first edition of We the Living (which Rand later revised), and in her overall writing style. However, by the time she wrote The Fountainhead, Rand had turned against Nietzsche's ideas, and the extent of his influence on her even during her early years is disputed. Among the philosophers Rand held in particular disdain was Immanuel Kant, whom she referred to as a "monster", although philosophers George Walsh and Fred Seddon have argued that she misinterpreted Kant and exaggerated their differences.

Rand said her most important contributions to philosophy were her "theory of concepts, ethics, and discovery in politics that evil—the violation of rights—consists of the initiation of force". She believed epistemology was a foundational branch of philosophy and considered the advocacy of reason to be the single most significant aspect of her philosophy, stating, "I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows."

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