View Poll Results: What is Ayn Rand's type?

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  • ILE (ENTp)

    2 20.00%
  • SEI (ISFp)

    0 0%
  • ESE (ESFj)

    0 0%
  • LII (INTj)

    1 10.00%
  • SLE (ESTp)

    0 0%
  • IEI (INFp)

    0 0%
  • EIE (ENFj)

    0 0%
  • LSI (ISTj)

    3 30.00%
  • SEE (ESFp)

    0 0%
  • ILI (INTp)

    1 10.00%
  • LIE (ENTj)

    4 40.00%
  • ESI (ISFj)

    0 0%
  • IEE (ENFp)

    0 0%
  • SLI (ISTp)

    0 0%
  • LSE (ESTj)

    0 0%
  • EII (INFj)

    0 0%
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Thread: Ayn Rand

  1. #1
    Cone's Avatar
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    Default Ayn Rand

    So my ISTj friend is forcing me to read Atlas Shrugged, and I was just wondering what is the general concensus on Ayn Rand's psychological type?

    I'll give my guess later.

    Your Quasi-Identical INTp friend,

    Cone


    quotes:
    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Ayn_Rand
    http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/au.../ayn_rand.html









    Binary or dichotomous systems, although regulated by a principle, are among the most artificial arrangements that have ever been invented. -- William Swainson, A Treatise on the Geography and Classification of Animals (1835)

  2. #2
    Creepy-pokeball

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    A naughty, naghty ENTp. That is definitely an alpha NT face though.

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    She seems pretty rational.

    (omfg, posted at the same time as the person above!)

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    she is my dual.

    Too bad you cant see

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    Sauron, The Great Enemy ArchonAlarion's Avatar
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    Ayn Rand is SLE, Ti subtype (LSI, LIE, ILE are not bad alternatives)

    Read her stuff on art ("Romantic realism"). Look at the romantic relationships she portrays in her novels. It's clearly Se/Ni. To believe her to be Delta is just laughable.

    Various quotes that are convincingly decisive quadra, introverted thinking type:

    "Only by accepting total compulsion can we achieve total freedom."

    "The mind is the attribute of man. When man is born, he comes into existence with only one weapon with him- The reasoning mind."

    "I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York's skyline. Particularly when one can't see the details. Just the shapes. The shapes and the thought that made them. The sky over New York and the will of man made visible. What other religion do we need? And then people tell me about pilgrimages to some dank pesthole in a jungle where they go to do homage to a crumbling temple, to a leering stone monster with a pot belly, created by some leprous savage. Is it beauty and genius they want to see? Do they seek a sense of the sublime? Let them come to New York, stand on the shore of the Hudson, look and kneel. When I see the city from my window - no, I don't feel how small I am - but I feel that if a war came to threaten this, I would throw myself into space, over the city, and protect these buildings with my body."

    "Anyone who fights for the future, lives in it today."

    "Definitions are the guardians of rationality, the first line of defense against the chaos of mental disintegration."

    "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."
    Last edited by ArchonAlarion; 04-20-2012 at 04:25 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArchonAlarion View Post
    To believe her to be Delta is just laughable.
    That's what I've been saying all the time.

  7. #7
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    I'm gone for a long time. I come back and see this thread still circulating. The song remains the same: hardly anyone wants her in their quadra.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ashton View Post
    I don't mind her that much. I don't necessarily agree with her on everything—for instance she's still a minarchist and doesn't go far enough to advocate total dissolution of the State, and I think her ontology is shallowly over-simplistic in arguing for total primacy of 'objective reality' and such. But beyond that, I think her central messages on the virtues of individualism, ambitious self-initiative, and laissez-faire capitalism, are great ideas and I'm glad she's influenced so many minds to see that too.
    How was she necessary for that development when capitalistic theory had been arguing that for several centuries?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    How was she necessary for that development when capitalistic theory had been arguing that for several centuries?
    I don't see Ayn Rand as having innovated any novel ideas per se—I mean, you can find Roman or Ancient Chinese thinkers who advocated many of the same things thousands of years ago, even.

    So while Ayn Rand didn't really directly contribute IMO to the intellectual development of capitalism/individualism/etc., for whatever reason(s) it appears she has been a successful marketeer of these ideas to many minds within our contemporary context. And it seems people like that are needed to carry out the cyclical process of communicating good ideas to minds in each generation (and/or combatting the bad ideas). Especially given that we know human progress isn't assuredly linear and that history is pockmarked with involutionary regressions of generational amnesia where good/bad ideas were 'forgotten', etc.

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    Her books seem pretty Gamma to me...I think this describes Danny Taggart and her relationships with the people she favors pretty well:

    Te blocked with Ni,
    Gamma types take a longer-term view regarding efficiency and profitability, giving lower priority to the short term. Likewise, they tend to aim at the broader benefits of decisions, rather than only at those affecting themselves, giving them an inclination for self-sacrifice.
    Gamma types like to talk about where present trends are leading in terms of potentially profitable events and undertakings.
    Gamma types tend to give more value to ideas and concepts that are firmly connected to factual information.
    Fi blocked with Se,
    Gamma types take a hard-line approach regarding ethical principles and the punishment, even revenge, on those who break them.
    Gamma types place high value on personal loyalty, once they feel a close relationship has been established.
    Gamma types like to discuss personal relationships in a realistic manner and are skeptical that "jerks" can ever become "nice people", for instance.
    Subdued elements


    The subdued IM elements of the Gamma Quadra are Fe, Ti, Ne, Si or respectively. These elements reflect aspects of reality which Gamma Quadra types prefer to keep to themselves and not discuss openly.
    Fe blocked with Si,
    Gamma types don't tend to form or maintain groups based on fun, emotional interaction, but only take groups seriously that perform some common productive activity or discuss serious topics.
    Gamma types reject the idea that it's best to avoid confrontations so as not to spoil the mood of those present, they prefer directness in settling or at least discussing disagreements.
    Gamma types have difficulty relating to emotional atmospheres connected to "special dates" such as public holidays.
    Ti blocked with Ne,
    Gamma types do not see much point in deeply analyzing ideas that they see as having little practical application or connection to reality.
    Gamma types are more inclined to speculate and discuss possible developments of present circumstances, or how these came about, than to speculate or analyze alternative scenarios or possibilities


  11. #11
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    Dagny Taggart - Gamma NT
    Francisco D'Aconia - ESFp or ENTj
    Hank Rearden - ENTj
    Eddie Willers - ISFj

    James Taggart and most of the opposition - Deltas?
    Last edited by suedehead; 03-09-2014 at 04:16 PM.

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    Dagny is SLE to the max, D'Aconia is the LIE, and Rearden is an LSI 8 imo.
    4w3-5w6-8w7

  13. #13
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    "In your book you actually talk about love as if it were a business of some kind." - by romancing styles she'd be an extraverted logical type.

    Quote Originally Posted by NewBorn STAR View Post
    she is my dual.

    Too bad you cant see
    pics or it didn't happen

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    ^^ Is there consensus on that?
    For example, I've heard the idea that Ti/Fe is conceptually less formal than Fi/Te. But each type has different functional strengths, so I wouldn't say that SEEs are formal people or that Ti leading types are very informal with people (because it's usually the opposite for me). Anyway, my point is that the quote could apply to introverted logic as well or thinking types in general

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    Atlas Shrugged 1168 pages (and unshrunken version was?)

    At first seems deep retardation in department and excessive dwelling in .
    More: describes a story in real world.
    Quote Originally Posted by Groucho Marx
    I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.

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    I read Rand before I read Kant and can't claim to be an expert on either's philosophy but they both have the same key point: "I am never an end for another person, I am always an end in myself."

    Her and Kant are similar in some way. That is a distinctive kind of philosophy.
    "And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it, and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them."

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    I might consider LSi.

    How LSIs write? Other examples? Could be more of Alpha NT way to put everything in very condensed form (abstracting things away from concrete details).
    Quote Originally Posted by Groucho Marx
    I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.

  18. #18
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    I identify with her a lot. Her thinking makes sense to me. I vote LSI.
    LSI-Se 836 Sp/Sx

  19. #19
    WE'RE ALL GOING HOME HERO's Avatar
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    Ayn Rand: Alpha NT (ILE-Ti or LII); or ILI

    “Any group, any gang, any nation that attempts to negate man’s rights, is wrong, which means: is evil, which means: is anti-life.”—Ayn Rand




    - From On Nabokov, Ayn Rand and the Libertarian Mind: What the Russian-American Odd Pair Can Tell Us about Some Values, Myths and Manias Widely Held Most Dear by Gene H. Bell-Villada; page 93:

    One of Ayn Rand’s stated mentors, oddly enough, was Dostoevsky, whose personal religious outlook would obviously have had no appeal for her. Rather she singles out “his superb mastery of plot-structure” and her former compatriot’s “merciless dissection of the psychology of evil” (RM [Romantic Manifesto], 53). Rand thus learned from his techniques of suspense and then reversed the moral terms, depicting instead the psychology of evil altruists. Moreover, though she doesn’t state it, her affinity for the author of The Brothers Karamazov is as a novelist of ideas. Dostoevsky’s greatest works are in some degree Platonic dialogues between moral or philosophic stances, with entire chapters sometimes representing one position or another. This trait is, indeed, among the reasons for Dostoevsky’s appeal to passionate young students who are just discovering the world of ideas yet lack the life experience to grasp the day-to-day realities unfolded in the capacious works of, say, a Tolstoy.

    Rand, conversely, loathed Tolstoy because “his philosophy and his sense of life, are not merely mistaken but evil” (RM, 55)—even if in almost the same breath she praises the mystico-religious Dostoevsky. Moreover she never really states what Tolstoy’s “philosophy” is. Does she mean his historical determinism? His celebration of family ties? His unusual feel for the texture of the quotidian? His utopian socialism? His Christianity? Perhaps all of these. Still, just as Nabokov did with other authors, she condemns Anna Karenina as “the most evil book in serious literature” (RM, 104), with no explanation or arguments as to why. Similarly, Shakespeare is anathematized by Rand as the alleged father of Naturalism (RM, 103). She inveighs against the latter school because it depicts society as determining people’s fates (RM, 104). Rand likewise attacks the Greek tragedians and, again, the evil Shakespeare for the philosophical sin of determinism.

    Aside from these extensive hates, most of Rand’s discussions of literature are rather conventionally focused on the agreed-upon past masters such as Dostoevsky and Hugo. On modern writers, in most of whom she perceives “the mannered artificiality of a second-hander” (RM, 52), she has, by contrast, little to say. In a marvelous instance of projection, she snipes at Mann’s Magic Mountain for featuring (of all things) “lengthy and abstract discussions of … ideas” (RM, 63)—a phrase that fits her own big tomes to a T. (One is reminded of Nabokov objecting to Don Quixote on accout of its “cruelty.”) Otherwise we can safely say that such contemporary authors as Joyce, Proust, Kafka, Faulkner, and Woolf meant nothing to La Rand.


    - Page 131 (“On Their Russian Side”):

    [Ayn Rand’s] Atlas Shrugged consists to an inordinate extent of debates between intellectual and ideological positions, in a somewhat debased exercise in Platonic dialogue. Both Atlas and Fountainhead culminate in lengthy orations, one of them before a jury, their functions reminiscent of the courtroom speeches placed by Dostoevsky at the high point of Karamazov. Rand, then, wrote what were essentially Russian novels with American settings.




    - page 16:

    Had [Ayn] Rand died prematurely in 1950, she might well have subsequently been seen more as an advocate of a pop-individualist ethics and aesthetics than as the militant crusader for unbridled capitalism into which she later evolved. Ironically enough, [Ayn] Rand—much like the Soviet tastemakers and commissars she was fleeing—loathed most Modernist art, music and literature, much preferring 19th-century models like Hugo and Dostoevsky, along with light operettas. Her avant-garde [fictional character] Roark, then, is a grand exception to her preferences.


    - Pages 156-157:

    The deeds of Rand’s heroes, as we’ve seen, are always heroic, always right, always admirable. Their utterances, accordingly, are for the most part either of two kinds: 1) sententious, abstract speeches in which they aggressively expound their general principles, or 2) characteristically brusque, curt statements that are blunt and churlish, even rude and hostile. Generally, we hear little else. Much of the dialogue in Rand fiction is adversarial in nature, consisting largely of verbal sparring, permanent “philosophic” combat. A not uncommon climactic, wrap-up line in her exchanges is the tart command by a hero to some second-hander, “Get out of my house/my office.”

    Not surprisingly, in Rand’s vast panoply of personages there is not a single outstanding figure who could be thought of as a sunny, warm, and caring, even amicable or benevolent, human being, no one on the order of, say, Shakespeare’s Benvolio or Bassanio or Orlando; or Jane Austen’s Jane Bennett or Mr. Bingley; or Tolstoy’s Levin or Bezukhov; or Sonia (either Dostoevsky’s or Chekhov’s); or Joyce’s Bloom; or many of Anne Tyler’s people. Whatever characters seem to be sunny and caring are ultimately unmasked as either contemptible fakes or sinister second-handers, like Peter Keating, or his officious mother, or his dowdy ex-girlfriend Catherine Halsey.

    Correspondingly, those who oppose Rand’s views, even the most fleeting of characters (as I’ve also observed above) find themselves regularly portrayed in the most unflattering terms, often as simply ugly. One of the protesters and picketers who cause a hullabaloo in the later scenes of Fountainhead is depicted thus: “She was fat and middle-aged. She wore a filthy cotton dress and a crushed hat. She had a pasty, sagging face, and a shapeless mouth … the face of self-righteous evil” (622). Or again, another such lowly she-lout: “Her hips began at her ankles, bulging over … her shoes; she had square shoulders and a long coat of cheap brown tweed over a huge square body … She had an incision for a mouth, without lips, and she waddled as she moved” (643).

    In Atlas Shrugged, because of the plethora of spiteful, mean-spirited, malign altruists who hold power, such caricatures abound. A Mr. Potter from the infamous State Science Institute has as “his only mark of distinction … a bulbous nose” (172). Mr. Thompson, none other than the United States President, is “slight,” “unintelligent,” and “lazy” (499). Wesley Mouch, another government lackey (his surname, one assumes, is pronounced “mooch”), sports a “flat-topped skull,” a “petulant bulb” for a lower lip, and “eyes … like the yolks of eggs smeared under the not fully translucent whites” (503). The face of Orren Boyle, rival to Hank Rearden and ally of the worthless James Taggart, features “small slits of pig’s eyes” (525).

    As I observed in connection with Nabokov, such simplistic caricatures would be appropriate were Rand writing satire or comedy, a la Dickens, for instance. However, in a highly dramatic novel that purports to be a serious literary statement about “Man” (one of Rand’s favorite big topics), to so lampoon its designated villains shows a monumental lack of subtlety and suggests a profound poverty of imagination. In many great narratives and tragedies, the evildoers are portrayed not that differently from other characters, and—as often indeed happens in real life—the malefactors can be eloquent, even attractive. As people, there’s nothing grotesque or repellent about Goneril or Iago, about either of the Macbeths or Hamlet’s stepfather Claudius. (Even Humbert Humbert, let us recall, wields a superb prose style). It is in their choice of actions, not in their physiques or their physiognomies, that these characters’ maliciousness becomes manifest. How authors portray their adversarial, negative characters is among the prime tests of their artistry, and Rand in Atlas fails that test.




    - From Philosophy: Who Needs It by Ayn Rand; pages viii-ix (Introduction by Leonard Peikoff):

    Man, therefore, needs metaphysics, epistemology and ethics; i.e., he needs philosophy. He needs it by his essential nature and for a practical purpose: in order to be able to think, to act, to live.

    In today's world, this view of the role of philosophy is unique—just as, in today's neo-mystic culture, Objectivism's advocacy of reason is all but unique.

    To Ayn Rand, philosophy is not a senseless parade of abstractions created to fill out the ritual at cocktail parties or in Sunday morning services. It is not a ponderous Continental wail of futility resonating with Oriental overtones. It is not a chess game divorced from reality designed by British professors for otherwise unemployable colleagues. To Ayn Rand, philosophy is the fundamental factor in human life; it is the basic force that shapes the mind and character of men and the destiny of nations. It shapes them for good or for evil, depending on the kind of philosophy men accept.

    A man's choice, according to Ayn Rand, is not whether to have a philosophy, but only which philosophy to have. His choice is whether his philosophy will be conscious, explicit, logical, and therefore practical—or random, unidentified, contradictory, and therefore lethal.

    In these essays, Ayn Rand explains some of the steps necessary to achieve a conscious, rational philosophy. She teaches the reader how to identify, and then evaluate, the hidden premises at work in his own soul or nation. She makes clear the mechanism by which philosophy rules men and societies, the forms that abstract theory takes in daily life, and the profound existential consequences that flow from even the most abstruse ideas, ideas which may seem at first glance to be of merely academic concern. She shows that, when an idea is rational, its consequence, ultimately, is the preservation of man's life; and that when an idea is irrational, its consequence is the opposite.

    Contrary to the injunctions issued to men for millennia, Ayn Rand did not equate objectivity with "disinterest"; she was interested in philosophy, in the Objectivist sense of "self-interest"; she wanted-selfishly, for the sake of her own actions and life—to know which ideas are right. If man needs philosophy, she held, he needs one that is true, i.e., in accordance with reality.


    - pages 1-13 (“Philosophy: Who Needs It” by Ayn Rand):

    (An address given to the graduating class of the United States Military Academy at West Point on March 6, 1974.)

    Since I am a fiction writer, let us start with a short short story. Suppose that you are an astronaut whose spaceship gets out of control and crashes on an unknown planet. When you regain consciousness and find that you are not hurt badly, the first three questions in your mind would be: Where am I? How can I discover it? What should I do?

    You see unfamiliar vegetation outside, and there is air to breathe; the sunlight seems paler than you remember it and colder. You turn to look at the sky, but stop. You are struck by a sudden feeling: if you don't look, you won't have to know that you are, perhaps, too far from the earth and no return is possible; so long as you don't know it, you are free to believe what you wish—and you experience a foggy, pleasant, but somehow guilty, kind of hope.

    You turn to your instruments: they may be damaged, you don't know how seriously. But you stop, struck by a sudden fear: how can you trust these instruments? How can you be sure that they won't mislead you? How can you know whether they will work in a different world? You turn away from the instruments.

    Now you begin to wonder why you have no desire to do anything. It seems so much safer just to wait for something to turn up somehow; it is better, you tell yourself, not to rock the spaceship. Far in the distance, you see some sort of living creatures approaching; you don't know whether they are human, but they walk on two feet. They, you decide, will tell you what to do.

    You are never heard from again.

    This is fantasy, you say? You would not act like that and no astronaut ever would? Perhaps not. But this is the way most men live their lives, here, on earth.

    Most men spend their days struggling to evade three questions, the answers to which underlie man's every thought, feeling and action, whether he is consciously aware of it or not: Where am I? How do I know it? What should I do?

    By the time they are old enough to understand these questions, men believe that they know the answers. Where am I? Say, in New York City. How do I know it? It's self-evident. What should I do? Here, they are not too sure—but the usual answer is: whatever everybody does. The only trouble seems to be that they are not very active, not very confident, not very happy—and they experience, at times, a causeless fear and an undefined guilt, which they cannot explain or get rid of.

    They have never discovered the fact that the trouble comes from the three unanswered questions—and that there is only one science that can answer them: philosophy.

    Philosophy studies the fundamental nature of existence, of man, and of man's relationship to existence. As against the special sciences, which deal only with particular aspects, philosophy deals with those aspects of the universe which pertain to everything that exists. In the realm of cognition, the special sciences are the trees, but philosophy is the soil which makes the forest possible.

    Philosophy would not tell you, for instance, whether you are in New York City or in Zanzibar (though it would give you the means to find out). But here is what it would tell you: Are you in a universe which is ruled by natural laws and, therefore, is stable, firm, absolute--and knowable? Or are you in an incomprehensible chaos, a realm of inexplicable miracles, an unpredictable, unknowable flux, which your mind is impotent to grasp? Are the things you see around you real—or are they only an illusion? Do they exist independent of any observer—or are they created by the observer? Are they the object or the subject of man's consciousness? Are they what they are—or can they be changed by a mere act of your consciousness, such as a wish?

    The nature of your actions—and of your ambition—will be different, according to which set of answers you come to accept. These answers are the province of metaphysics—the study of existence as such or, in Aristotle's words, of "being qua being”—the basic branch of philosophy.

    No matter what conclusions you reach, you will be confronted by the necessity to answer another, corollary question: How do I know it? Since man is not omniscient or infallible, you have to discover what you can claim as knowledge and how to question: How do I know it? Since man is not omniscient or infallible, you have to discover what you can claim as knowledge and how to prove the validity of your conclusions. Does man acquire knowledge by a process of reason—or by sudden revelation from a supernatural power? Is reason a faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man's senses—or is it fed by innate ideas, implanted in man's mind before he was born? Is reason competent to perceive reality—or does man possess some other cognitive faculty which is superior to reason? Can man achieve certainty—or is he doomed to perpetual doubt? Does man acquire knowledge by a process of reason—or by sudden revelation from a supernatural power? Is reason a faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man's senses—or is it fed by innate ideas, implanted in man's mind before he was born? Is reason competent to perceive reality—or does man possess some other cognitive faculty which is superior to reason? Can man achieve certainty—or is he doomed to perpetual doubt?

    The extent of your self-confidence—and of your success—will be different, according to which set of answers you accept. These answers are the province of epistemology, the theory of knowledge, which studies man's means of cognition.

    These two branches are the theoretical foundation of philosophy. The third branch—ethics—may be regarded as its technology. Ethics does not apply to everything that exists, only to man, but it applies to every aspect of man's life: his character, his actions, his values, his relationship to all of existence. Ethics, or morality, defines a code of values to guide man's choices and actions—the choices and actions that determine the course of his life.

    Just as the astronaut in my story did not know what he should do, because he refused to know where he was and how to discover it, so you cannot know what you should do until you know the nature of the universe you deal with, the nature of your means of cognition—and your own nature. Before you come to ethics, you must answer the questions posed by metaphysics and epistemology: Is man a rational being, able to deal with reality—or is he a helplessly blind misfit, a chip buffeted by the universal flux? Are achievement and enjoyment possible to man on earth—or is he doomed to failure and disaster? Depending on the answers, you can proceed to consider the questions posed by ethics: What is good or evil for man—and why? Should man's primary concern be a quest for joy—or an escape from suffering? Should man hold self-fulfillment—or self-destruction—as the goal of his life? Should man pursue his values—or should he place the interests of others above his own? Should man seek happiness—or self-sacrifice?

    I do not have to point out the different consequences of these two sets of answers. You can see them everywhere—within you and around you.

    The answers given by ethics determine how man should treat other men, and this determines the fourth branch of philosophy: politics, which defines the principles of a proper social system. As an example of philosophy's function, political philosophy will not tell you how much rationed gas you should be given and on which day of the week—it will tell you whether the government has the right to impose any rationing on anything.

    The fifth and last branch of philosophy is esthetics, the study of art, which is based on metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. Art deals with the needs—the refueling—of man's consciousness.

    Now some of you might say, as many people do: "Aw, I never think in such abstract terms—I want to deal with concrete, particular, real-life problems—what do I need philosophy for?" My answer is: In order to be able to deal with concrete, particular, real-life problems—i.e., in order to be able to live on earth.

    You might claim—as most people do—that you have never been influenced by philosophy. I will ask you to check that claim. Have you ever thought or said the following? "Don't be so sure—nobody can be certain of anything." You got that notion from David Hume (and many, many others), even though you might never have heard of him. Or: "This may be good in theory, but it doesn't work in practice." You got that from Plato. Or: "That was a rotten thing to do, but it's only human, nobody is perfect in this world." You got it from Augustine. Or: "It may be true for you, but it's not true for me." You got it from William James. Or: "I couldn't help it! Nobody can help anything he does." You got it from Hegel. Or: "I can't prove it, but I feel feel that it's true." You got it from Kant. Or: "It's logical, but logic has nothing to do with reality." You got it from Kant. Or: "It's evil, because it's selfish." You got it from Kant. Have you heard the modern activists say: "Act first, think afterward"? They got it from John Dewey.

    Some people might answer: "Sure, I've said those things at different times, but I don't have to believe that stuff all of the time. It may have been true yesterday, but it's not true today." They got it from Hegel. They might say: "Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." They got it from a very little mind, Emerson. They might say: "But can't one compromise and borrow different ideas from different philosophies according to the expediency of the moment?" They got it from Richard Nixon—who got it from William James.

    Now ask yourself: if you are not interested in abstract ideas, why do you (and all men) feel compelled to use them? The fact is that abstract ideas are conceptual integrations which subsume an incalculable number of concretes—and that without abstract ideas you would not be able to deal with concrete, particular, real-life problems. You would be in the position of a newborn infant, to whom every object is a unique, unprecedented phenomenon. The difference between his mental state and yours lies in the number of conceptual integrations your mind has performed.

    You have no choice about the necessity to integrate your observations, your experiences, your knowledge into abstract ideas, i.e., into principles. Your only choice is whether these principles are true or false, whether they represent your conscious, rational convictions—or a grab-bag of notions snatched at random, whose sources, validity, context and consequences you do not know, notions which, more often than not, you would drop like a hot potato if you knew.

    But the principles you accept (consciously or subconsciously) may clash with or contradict one another; they, too, have to be integrated. What integrates them? Philosophy. 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.

    You might say, as many people do, that it is not easy always to act on abstract principles. No, it is not easy. But how much harder is it, to have to act on them without knowing what they are?

    Your subconscious is like a computer—more complex a computer than men can build—and its main function is the integration of your ideas. Who programs it? Your conscious mind. If you default, if you don't reach any firm convictions, your subconscious is programmed by chance—and you deliver yourself into the power of ideas you do not know you have accepted. But one way or the other, your computer gives you print-outs, daily and hourly, in the form of emotions—which are lightning-like estimates of the things around you, calculated according to your values. If you programmed your computer by conscious thinking, you know the nature of your values and emotions. If you didn't, you don't.

    Many people, particularly today, claim that man cannot live by logic alone, that there's the emotional element of his nature to consider, and that they rely on the guidance of their emotions. Well, so did the astronaut in my story. The joke is on him—and on them: man's values and emotions are determined by his fundamental view of life. The ultimate programmer of his subconscious is philosophy—the science which, according to the emotionalists, is impotent to affect or penetrate the murky mysteries of their feelings.

    The quality of a computer's output is determined by the quality of its input. If your subconscious is programmed by chance, its output will have a corresponding character. You have probably heard the computer operators' eloquent term "gigo”—which means: "Garbage in, garbage out." The same formula applies to the relationship between a man's thinking and his emotions.

    A man who is run by emotions is like a man who is run by a computer whose print-outs he cannot read. He does not know whether its programming is true or false, right or wrong, whether it's set to lead him to success or destruction, whether it serves his goals or those of some evil, unknowable power. He is blind on two fronts: blind to the world around him and to his own inner world, unable to grasp reality or his own motives, and he is in chronic terror of both. Emotions are not tools of cognition. The men who are not interested in philosophy need it most urgently: they are most helplessly in its power.

    The men who are not interested in philosophy absorb its principles from the cultural atmosphere around them—from schools, colleges, books, magazines, newspapers, movies, television, etc. Who sets the tone of a culture? A small handful of men: the philosophers. Others follow their lead, either by conviction or by default. For some two hundred years, under the influence of Immanuel Kant, the dominant trend of philosophy has been directed to a single goal: the destruction of man's mind, of his confidence in the power of reason. Today, we are seeing the climax of that trend.

    When men abandon reason, they find not only that their emotions cannot guide them, but that they can experience no emotions save one: terror. The spread of drug addiction among young people brought up on today's intellectual fashions, demonstrates the unbearable inner state of men who are deprived of their means of cognition and who seek escape from reality—from the terror of their impotence to deal with existence. Observe these young people's dread of independence and their frantic desire to "belong," to attach themselves to some group, clique or gang. Most of them have never heard of philosophy, but they sense that they need some fundamental answers to questions they dare not ask—and they hope that the tribe will tell them how to live. They are ready to be taken over by any witch doctor, guru, or dictator. One of the most dangerous things a man can do is to surrender his moral autonomy to others: like the astronaut in my story, he does not know whether they are human, even though they walk on two feet.

    Now you may ask: If philosophy can be that evil, why should one study it? Particularly, why should one study the philosophical theories which are blatantly false, make no sense, and bear no relation to real life?

    My answer is: In self-protection—and in defense of truth, justice, freedom, and any value you ever held or may ever hold.

    Not all philosophies are evil, though too many of them are, particularly in modern history. On the other hand, at the root of every civilized achievement, such as science, technology, progress, freedom—at the root of every value we enjoy today, including the birth of this country—you will find the achievement of one man, who lived over two thousand years ago: Aristotle.

    If you feel nothing but boredom when reading the virtually unintelligible theories of some philosophers, you have my deepest sympathy. But if you brush them aside, saying: "Why should I study that stuff when I know it's nonsense?”—you are mistaken. It is nonsense, but you don't know it—not so long as you go on accepting all their conclusions, all the vicious catch phrases generated by those philosophers. And not so long as you are unable to refute them.

    That nonsense deals with the most crucial, the life-or-death issues of man's existence. At the root of every significant philosophic theory, there is a legitimate issue—in the sense that there is an authentic need of man's consciousness, which some theories struggle to clarify and others struggle to obfuscate, to corrupt, to prevent man from ever discovering. The battle of philosophers is a battle for man's mind. If you do not understand their theories, you are vulnerable to the worst among them.

    The best way to study philosophy is to approach it as one approaches a detective story: follow every trail, clue and implication, in order to discover who is a murderer and who is a hero. The criterion of detection is two questions: Why? and How? If a given tenet seems to be true—why? If another tenet seems to be false—why? and how is it being put over? You will not find all the answers immediately, but you will acquire an invaluable characteristic: the ability to think in terms of essentials.

    Nothing is given to man automatically, neither knowledge, nor self-confidence, nor inner serenity, nor the right way to use his mind. Every value he needs or wants has to be discovered, learned and acquired—even the proper posture of his body. In this context, I want to say that I have always admired the posture of West Point graduates, a posture that projects man in proud, disciplined control of his body. Well, philosophical training gives man the proper intellectual posture—a proud, disciplined control of his mind.

    In your own profession, in military science, you know the importance of keeping track of the enemy's weapons, strategy and tactics—and of being prepared to counter them. The same is true in philosophy: you have to understand the enemy's ideas and be prepared to refute them, you have to know his basic arguments and be able to blast them.

    In physical warfare, you would not send your men into a booby trap: you would make every effort to discover its location. Well, Kant's system is the biggest and most intricate booby trap in the history of philosophy—but it's so full of holes that once you grasp its gimmick, you can defuse it without any trouble and walk forward over it in perfect safety. And, once it is defused, the lesser Kantians—the lower ranks of his army, the philosophical sergeants, buck privates, and mercenaries of today—will fall of their own weightlessness, by chain reaction.

    There is a special reason why you, the future leaders of the United States Army, need to be philosophically armed today. You are the target of a special attack by the Kantian-Hegelian-collectivist establishment that dominates our cultural institutions at present. You are the army of the last semi-free country left on earth, yet you are accused of being a tool of imperialism—and "imperialism" is the name given to the foreign policy of this country, which has never engaged in military conquest and has never profited from the two world wars, which she did not initiate, but entered and won. (It was, incidentally, a foolishly overgenerous policy, which made this country waste her wealth on helping both her allies and her former enemies.) Something called "the military-industrial complex”—which is a myth or worse—is being blamed for all of this country's troubles. Bloody college hoodlums scream demands that R.O.T.C. units be banned from college campuses. Our defense budget is being attacked, denounced and undercut by people who claim that financial priority should be given to ecological rose gardens and to classes in esthetic self-expression for the residents of the slums.

    Some of you may be bewildered by this campaign and may be wondering, in good faith, what errors you committed to bring it about. If so, it is urgently important for you to understand the nature of the enemy. You are attacked, not for any errors or flaws, but for your virtues. You are denounced, not for any weaknesses, but for your strength and your competence. You are penalized for being the protectors of the United States. On a lower level of the same issue, a similar kind of campaign is conducted against the police force. Those who seek to destroy this country, seek to disarm it—intellectually and physically. But it is not a mere political issue; politics is not the cause, but the last consequence of philosophical ideas. It is not a communist conspiracy, though some communists may be involved—as maggots cashing in on a disaster they had no power to originate. The motive of the destroyers is not love for communism, but hatred for America. Why hatred? Because America is the living refutation of a Kantian universe.

    Today's mawkish concern with and compassion for the feeble, the flawed, the suffering, the guilty, is a cover for the profoundly Kantian hatred of the innocent, the strong, the able, the successful, the virtuous, the confident, the happy. A philosophy out to destroy man's mind is necessarily a philosophy of hatred for man, for man's life, and for every human value. Hatred of the good for being the good, is the hallmark of the twentieth century. This is the enemy you are facing.

    A battle of this kind requires special weapons. It has to be fought with a full understanding of your cause, a full confidence in yourself, and the fullest certainty of the moral rightness of both. Only philosophy can provide you with these weapons.

    The assignment I gave myself for tonight is not to sell you on my philosophy, but on philosophy as such. I have, however, been speaking implicitly of my philosophy in every sentence—since none of us and no statement can escape from philosophical premises. What is my selfish interest in the matter? I am confident enough to think that if you accept the importance of philosophy and the task of examining it critically, it is my philosophy that you will come to accept. Formally, I call it Objectivism, but informally I call it a philosophy for living on earth. You will find an explicit presentation of it in my books, particularly in Atlas Shrugged.

    In conclusion, allow me to speak in personal terms. This evening means a great deal to me. I feel deeply honored by the opportunity to address you. I can say—not as a patriotic bromide, but with full knowledge of the necessary metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, political and esthetic roots—that the United States of America is the greatest, the noblest and, in its original founding principles, the only moral country in the history of the world. There is a kind of quiet radiance associated in my mind with the name West Point—because you have preserved the spirit of those original founding principles and you are their symbol. There were contradictions and omissions in those principles, and there may be in yours—but I am speaking of the essentials. There may be individuals in your history who did not live up to your highest standards—as there are in every institution—since no institution and no social system can guarantee the automatic perfection of all its members; this depends on an individual's free will. I am speaking of your standards. You have preserved three qualities of character which were typical at the time of America's birth, but are virtually nonexistent today: earnestness—dedication—a sense of honor. Honor is self-esteem made visible in action.

    You have chosen to risk your lives for the defense of this country. I will not insult you by saying that you are dedicated to selfless service—it is not a virtue in my morality. In my morality, the defense of one's country means that a man is personally unwilling to live as the conquered slave of any enemy, foreign or domestic. This is an enormous virtue. Some of you may not be consciously aware of it. I want to help you to realize it.

    The army of a free country has a great responsibility: the right to use force, but not as an instrument of compulsion and brute conquest—as the armies of other countries have done in their histories—only as an instrument of a free nation's self-defense, which means: the defense of a man's individual rights. The principle of using force only in retaliation against those who initiate its use, is the principle of subordinating might to right. The highest integrity and sense of honor are required for such a task. No other army in the world has achieved it. You have.

    West Point has given America a long line of heroes, known and unknown. You, this year's graduates, have a glorious tradition to carry on—which I admire profoundly, not because it is a tradition, but because it is is glorious.

    Since I came from a country guilty of the worst tyranny on earth, I am particularly able to appreciate the meaning, the greatness and the supreme value of that which you are defending. So, in my own name and in the name of many people who think as I do, I want to say, to all the men of West Point, past, present and future: Thank you.





    - from The Ayn Rand Column; pages 7-10 [“War and Peace” (June 24, 1962)]:

    One of the ugliest characteristics of today’s world is the mixture of frantic war preparations with hysterical peace propaganda , and the fact that both come from the same source– from the same political philosophy. If mankind is ever to achieve peace, the first step will be made when people realize that today’s peace movements are not advocates of peace.

    Professing love and concern for the survival of mankind, these movements keep screaming that nuclear weapons have made war too horrible to contemplate, that armed force and violence should be abolished as a means of settling disputes among nations, and that war should be outlawed in the name of humanity. Yet these same peace movements do not oppose dictatorships; the political views of their members range through all shades of the statist spectrum, from “welfare statism” to socialism and communism. This means that these movements are opposed to the use of coercion by one nation against another, but not by the government of a nation against its own citizens; it means that they are opposed to the use of force and violence against armed adversaries, but not against the disarmed.

    Under any political system, in any organized society, the government holds a legal monopoly on the use of political force. That is the crucial difference between a government and any private organization. Private individuals or groups deal with one another peacefully, by means of trade, persuasion, discussion, and voluntary agreements; they cannot resort to force; those who do, are criminals – and it is the proper duty of government to restrain them.

    In a free, civilized society, the use of physical force is outlawed by the recognition of men’s inalienable, individual rights. The power of the government is limited by law to the role of a policeman that protects men’s rights and uses force only against those who initiate its use. This is the basic political principle of the only social system that banishes force from human relationships: laissez-faire capitalism.

    But a statist system—whether of a communist, fascist, Nazi, socialist or “welfare” type—is based on the opposite principle: on the government’s unlimited power, which means: on the rule of brute force. The differences among statist systems are only a matter of time and degree; the principle is the same. Under statism, the government is not a policeman, but a legalized criminal that holds the power to use physical force in any manner and for any purpose it pleases against legally disarmed defenseless victims.

    Nothing can ever justify so monstrously evil a theory. Nothing can justify the horror, the brutality, the plunder, the destruction, the starvation, the slave-labor camps, the torture chambers, the wholesale slaughter of statist dictatorships. Yet this is what today’s alleged peace lovers are willing to advocate or tolerate -- in the name of love for humanity.

    Statism is a system of institutionalized violence and perpetual civil war, that leaves men no choice but to fight to seize power over one another. In a full dictatorship, that civil war takes the form of bloody purges, as in Nazi Germany, and Soviet Russia. In a “mixed economy,” it takes the form of “pressure group” warfare, each group fighting for legislation to extort its own advantages by force from all other groups.

    Statism is nothing more than gang rule. A statist dictatorship is a gang devoted to looting the effort of the productive citizens of its own country. When statist rulers exhaust their own country’s economy and run out of loot, they attack their neighbors. All the major wars of history were started by the more controlled economies of the time against the freer ones. For instance, World War I was started by monarchist Germany and Czarist Russia, which were “mixed economies” of a predominantly statist kind. World War II was started by the alliance of Nazi Germany with Soviet Russia and their joint attack on Poland.

    Observe that in World War II, Germany and Russia dismantled entire factories in conquered countries, to ship them home – while the freest one of the “mixed economies,” the semi-capitalistic United States, sent billions worth of lend-lease equipment, including entire factories, to its allies. Germany and Russia needed war; the United States did not and gained nothing. Yet it is capitalism that today’s peace-lovers oppose and statism that they advocate--in the name of peace.

    There is no moral justification for the vicious doctrine that some men have the right to rule others by force. But so long as men continue to believe that some sort of alleged “noble purpose” can justify it--violence, bloodshed and wars will continue. It is true that nuclear weapons have made wars too horrible to contemplate. But it makes no difference to man whether he is killed by a nuclear bomb or is led to a Nazi gas chamber or a Soviet firing squad, with no voices raised to defend him. Will such a man feel any love or concern for the survival of mankind? Or will he be more justified in feeling that a cannibalistic mankind, which tolerates dictatorships, does not deserve to survive?

    Let those who are seriously concerned with peace, those who do love man and do care about his survival, realize that war cannot be outlawed by lawless statist thugs and that it is not war but force that has to be outlawed.


    https://web.archive.org/web/20120106...tml#moralizing

    Encouraging moralizing

    [Nathaniel Branden:] Another aspect of her philosophy that I would like to talk about — one of the hazards — is the appalling moralism that Ayn Rand herself practiced and that so many of her followers also practice. I don't know of anyone other than the Church fathers in the Dark Ages who used the word "evil" quite so often as Ayn Rand.

    Of all the accusations of her critics, surely the most ludicrous is the accusation that Ayn Rand encourages people to do just what they please. If there's anything in this world Ayn did not do, it was to encourage people to do what they please. If there is anything she was not, it was an advocate of hedonism.

    She may have taught that "Man's Life" is the standard of morality and your own life is its purpose, but the path she advocated to the fulfillment of your life was a severely disciplined one. She left many of her readers with the clear impression that life is a tightrope and that it is all too easy to fall off into moral depravity. In other words, on the one hand she preached a morality of joy, personal happiness, and individual fulfillment; on the other hand, she was a master at scaring the hell out of you if you respected and admired her and wanted to apply her philosophy to your own life.

    She used to say to me, "I don't know anything about psychology, Nathaniel." I wish I had taken her more seriously. She was right; she knew next to nothing about psychology. What neither of us understood, however, was how disastrous an omission that is in a philosopher in general and a moralist in particular. The most devastating single omission in her system and the one that causes most of the trouble for her followers is the absence of any real appreciation of human psychology and, more specifically, of developmental psychology, of how human beings evolve and become what they are and of how they can change.

    So, you are left with this sort of picture of your life. You either choose to be rational or you don't. You're honest or you're not. You choose the right values or you don't. You like the kind of art Rand admires or your soul is in big trouble. For evidence of this last point, read her essays on esthetics (Rand, 1970). Her followers are left in a dreadful position: If their responses aren't "the right ones," what are they to do? How are they to change? No answer from Ayn Rand. Here is the tragedy: Her followers' own love and admiration for her and her work become turned into the means of their self-repudiation and self-torture. I have seen a good deal of that, and it saddens me more than I can say.

    Let's suppose a person has done something that he or she knows to be wrong, immoral, unjust, or unreasonable: instead of acknowledging the wrong, instead of simply regretting the action and then seeking, compassionately, to understand why the action was taken and asking where was I coming from? and what need was I trying in my own twisted way to satisfy? — instead of asking such questions, the person is encouraged to brand the behavior as evil and is given no useful advice on where to go from there. You don't teach people to be moral by teaching them self-contempt as a virtue.

    Enormous importance is attached in Rand's writings to the virtue of justice. I think one of the most important things she has to say about justice is that we shouldn't think of justice only in terms of punishing the guilty but also in terms of rewarding and appreciating the good. I think her emphasis on this point is enormously important.

    To look on the dark side, however, part of her vision of justice is urging you to instant contempt for anyone who deviates from reason or morality or what is defined as reason or morality. Errors of knowledge may be forgiven, she says, but not errors of morality. Even if what people are doing is wrong, even if errors of morality are involved, even if what people are doing is irrational, you do not lead people to virtue by contempt. You do not make people better by telling them they are despicable. It just doesn't work. It doesn't work when religion tries it and it doesn't work when objectivism tries it.

    If someone has done something so horrendous that you want to tell him or her that the action is despicable, go ahead. If you want to tell someone he is a rotten son-of-a-bitch, go ahead. If you want to call someone a scoundrel, go ahead. I don't deny that there are times when that is a thoroughly appropriate response. What I do deny is that it is an effective strategy for inspiring moral change or improvement.

    The great, glaring gap in just about all ethical systems of which I have knowledge, even when many of the particular values and virtues they advocate may be laudable, is the absence of a technology to assist people in getting there, an effective means for acquiring these values and virtues, a realistic path people can follow. That is the great missing step in most religions and philosophies. And this is where psychology comes in: One of the tasks of psychology is to provide a technology for facilitating the process of becoming a rational, moral human being.

    You can tell people that it's a virtue to be rational, productive, or just, but, if they have not already arrived at that stage of awareness and development on their own, objectivism does not tell them how to get there. It does tell you you're rotten if you fail to get there.

    Ayn Rand admirers come to me and say, "All of her characters are so ambitious. I'm thirty years old and I don't know what to do with my life. I don't know what I want to make of myself. I earn a living, I know I could be better than I am, I know I could be more productive or creative, and I'm not. I'm rotten. What can I do?" I've heard some version of this quite often. I've heard it a lot from some very intelligent men and women who are properly concerned they they have many capacities they are not using, and who long for something more — which is healthy and desirable, but the self-blame and self-hatred is not and it's very, very common.

    The question for me is: How come you don't have the motivation to do more? How come so little seems worth doing? In what way, in what twisted way, perhaps, might you be trying to take care of yourself by your procrastination, by your inertia, by your lack of ambition? Let's try to understand what needs you're struggling to satisfy. Let's try to understand where you're coming from.

    That is an approach I learned only after my break with Ayn Rand. It is very foreign to the approach I learned in my early years with her. And it's very foreign to just about every objectivist I've ever met. However, if we are to assist people to become more self-actualized, that approach is absolutely essential. We are all of us organisms trying to survive. We are all of us organisms trying in our own way to use our abilities and capacities to satisfy our needs. Sometimes the paths we choose are pretty terrible, and sometimes the consequences are pretty awful for ourselves and others. Until and unless we are willing to try to understand where people are coming from, what they are trying to accomplish, and what model of reality they're operating form — such that they don't see themselves as having better alternatives, we cannot assist anyone to reach the moral vision that objectivism holds as a possibility for human beings.

    It's not quite true to say that I didn't understand this until after my break with Rand. This approach is already present in The Psychology of Self-Esteem, most of which was written during my years with her. I will say instead that I learned to practice this approach far more competently only after the break, only after I disassociated myself from her obsessive moralism and moralizing.

    So here in Ayn Rand's work is an ethical philosophy with a great vision of human possibilities, but no technology to help people get there, and a lot of messages encouraging self-condemnation when they fail to get there.

    Her readers come to me and they say; "Boy, it was so great. I read her books and I got rid of the guilt that the Church laid on me. I got rid of the guilt over sex. Or wanting to make money." "Why have you come to see me?", I ask. "Well, now I'm guilty about something else. I'm not as good as John Galt. Sometimes I'm not even sure I'm as good as Eddie Willers," they respond.

    Rand might respond, "But these people are guilty of pretentiousness and grandiosity!" Sure they are, at least some of the time. Although when you tell people, as Rand did, that one of the marks of virtue is to value the perfection of your soul above all things, not your happiness, not your enjoyment of life, not the joyful fulfillment of your positive possibilities, but the perfection of your soul, aren't you helping to set people up for just this kind of nonsense?

    A man came to me a little while ago for psychotherapy. He was involved in a love affair with a woman. He was happy with her. She was happy with him. But he had a problem; he wasn't convinced she was worthy of him — he wasn't convinced she was "enough." And why not? Because, although she worked for a living, her life was not organized around some activity comparable to building railroads. "She isn't a Dagny Taggart." The fact that he was happy with her seemed to matter less to him than the fact that she didn't live up to a certain notion of what the ideal woman was supposed to be like.

    If he had said, "I'm worried about our future because, although I enjoy her right now, I don't know whether or not there's enough intellectual stimulation there," that would have been a different question entirely and a far more understandable one. What was bothering him was not his own misgivings but a voice inside him, a voice which he identified as the voice of Ayn Rand, saying "She's not Dagny Taggart." When I began by gently pointing out to him that he wasn't John Galt, it didn't make him feel any better — it made him feel worse!

    I recall a story I once read by a psychiatrist, a story about a tribe that has a rather unusual way of dealing with moral wrongdoers or lawbreakers. Such a person, when his or her infraction is discovered, is not reproached or condemned but is brought into the center of the village square — and the whole tribe gathers around. Everyone who has ever known this person since the day he or she was born steps forward, one by one, and talks about anything and everything good this person has ever been known to have done. The speakers aren't allowed to exaggerate or make mountains out of molehills; they have to be realistic, truthful, factual. And the person just sits there, listening, as one by one people talk about all the good things this person has done in the course of his or her life. Sometimes, the process takes several days. When it's over, the person is released and everyone goes home and there is no discussion of the offense — and there is almost no repetition of offenses (Zunin, 1970, Contact: The First Four Minutes).

    In the objectivist frame of reference there is the assumption, made explicit in John Galt's speech in Atlas Shrugged, and dramatized throughout the novel in any number of ways, that the most natural, reasonable, appropriate response to immoral or wrong behavior is contempt and moral condemnation. Psychologists know that that response tends to increase the probability that that kind of behavior will be repeated. This is an example of what I mean by the difference between a vision of desirable behavior and the development of an appropriate psychological technology that would inspire people to practice it.


    - From The Ayn Rand Reader; page x (Introduction by Leonard Peikoff):

    . . . [Ayn Rand] rejects, among many other kindred isms, every form of supernaturalism, subjectivism, mysticism, skepticism, altruism, relativism, collectivism, statism, and (in art) both Naturalism and “modernism.”

    As you may be starting to see, [Ayn Rand] cannot be identified by using the conventional categories. She is neither a liberal nor a conservative. She admires Aristotle, but denies that “moderation” is the definition of virtue. She regards Libertarians as worse than Communists. She is a moralist who rejects religion, an individualist who dismisses Spencer, an egoist who denounces Nietzsche—and a philosopher who writes thrillers.




    From On Nabokov, Ayn Rand and the Libertarian Mind: What the Russian-American Odd Pair Can Tell Us about Some Values, Myths and Manias Widely Held Most Dear by Gene H. Bell-Villada; page 93:

    One of Ayn Rand’s stated mentors, oddly enough, was Dostoevsky, whose personal religious outlook would obviously have had no appeal for her. Rather she singles out “his superb mastery of plot-structure” and her former compatriot’s “merciless dissection of the psychology of evil” (RM [Romantic Manifesto], 53). Rand thus learned from his techniques of suspense and then reversed the moral terms, depicting instead the psychology of evil altruists. Moreover, though she doesn’t state it, her affinity for the author of The Brothers Karamazov is as a novelist of ideas. Dostoevsky’s greatest works are in some degree Platonic dialogues between moral or philosophic stances, with entire chapters sometimes representing one position or another. This trait is, indeed, among the reasons for Dostoevsky’s appeal to passionate young students who are just discovering the world of ideas yet lack the life experience to grasp the day-to-day realities unfolded in the capacious works of, say, a Tolstoy.

    Rand, conversely, loathed Tolstoy because “his philosophy and his sense of life, are not merely mistaken but evil” (RM, 55)—even if in almost the same breath she praises the mystico-religious Dostoevsky. Moreover she never really states what Tolstoy’s “philosophy” is. Does she mean his historical determinism? His celebration of family ties? His unusual feel for the texture of the quotidian? His utopian socialism? His Christianity? Perhaps all of these. Still, just as Nabokov did with other authors, she condemns Anna Karenina as “the most evil book in serious literature” (RM, 104), with no explanation or arguments as to why. Similarly, Shakespeare is anathematized by Rand as the alleged father of Naturalism (RM, 103). She inveighs against the latter school because it depicts society as determining people’s fates (RM, 104). Rand likewise attacks the Greek tragedians and, again, the evil Shakespeare for the philosophical sin of determinism.

    Aside from these extensive hates, most of Rand’s discussions of literature are rather conventionally focused on the agreed-upon past masters such as Dostoevsky and Hugo. On modern writers, in most of whom she perceives “the mannered artificiality of a second-hander” (RM, 52), she has, by contrast, little to say. In a marvelous instance of projection, she snipes at Mann’s Magic Mountain for featuring (of all things) “lengthy and abstract discussions of … ideas” (RM, 63)—a phrase that fits her own big tomes to a T. (One is reminded of Nabokov objecting to Don Quixote on accout of its “cruelty.”) Otherwise we can safely say that such contemporary authors as Joyce, Proust, Kafka, Faulkner, and Woolf meant nothing to La Rand.


    - Page 131 (“On Their Russian Side”):

    [Ayn Rand’s] Atlas Shrugged consists to an inordinate extent of debates between intellectual and ideological positions, in a somewhat debased exercise in Platonic dialogue. Both Atlas and Fountainhead culminate in lengthy orations, one of them before a jury, their functions reminiscent of the courtroom speeches placed by Dostoevsky at the high point of Karamazov. Rand, then, wrote what were essentially Russian novels with American settings.




    - page 16:

    Had [Ayn] Rand died prematurely in 1950, she might well have subsequently been seen more as an advocate of a pop-individualist ethics and aesthetics than as the militant crusader for unbridled capitalism into which she later evolved. Ironically enough, [Ayn] Rand—much like the Soviet tastemakers and commissars she was fleeing—loathed most Modernist art, music and literature, much preferring 19th-century models like Hugo and Dostoevsky, along with light operettas. Her avant-garde [fictional character] Roark, then, is a grand exception to her preferences.



    From Philosophy: Who Needs It by Ayn Rand; pages viii-ix (Introduction by Leonard Peikoff):

    Man, therefore, needs metaphysics, epistemology and ethics; i.e., he needs philosophy. He needs it by his essential nature and for a practical purpose: in order to be able to think, to act, to live.

    In today's world, this view of the role of philosophy is unique—just as, in today's neo-mystic culture, Objectivism's advocacy of reason is all but unique.

    To Ayn Rand, philosophy is not a senseless parade of abstractions created to fill out the ritual at cocktail parties or in Sunday morning services. It is not a ponderous Continental wail of futility resonating with Oriental overtones. It is not a chess game divorced from reality designed by British professors for otherwise unemployable colleagues. To Ayn Rand, philosophy is the fundamental factor in human life; it is the basic force that shapes the mind and character of men and the destiny of nations. It shapes them for good or for evil, depending on the kind of philosophy men accept.

    A man's choice, according to Ayn Rand, is not whether to have a philosophy, but only which philosophy to have. His choice is whether his philosophy will be conscious, explicit, logical, and therefore practical—or random, unidentified, contradictory, and therefore lethal.

    In these essays, Ayn Rand explains some of the steps necessary to achieve a conscious, rational philosophy. She teaches the reader how to identify, and then evaluate, the hidden premises at work in his own soul or nation. She makes clear the mechanism by which philosophy rules men and societies, the forms that abstract theory takes in daily life, and the profound existential consequences that flow from even the most abstruse ideas, ideas which may seem at first glance to be of merely academic concern. She shows that, when an idea is rational, its consequence, ultimately, is the preservation of man's life; and that when an idea is irrational, its consequence is the opposite.

    Contrary to the injunctions issued to men for millennia, Ayn Rand did not equate objectivity with "disinterest"; she was interested in philosophy, in the Objectivist sense of "self-interest"; she wanted-selfishly, for the sake of her own actions and life—to know which ideas are right. If man needs philosophy, she held, he needs one that is true, i.e., in accordance with reality.


    - pages 1-13 (“Philosophy: Who Needs It” by Ayn Rand):

    (An address given to the graduating class of the United States Military Academy at West Point on March 6, 1974.)

    Since I am a fiction writer, let us start with a short short story. Suppose that you are an astronaut whose spaceship gets out of control and crashes on an unknown planet. When you regain consciousness and find that you are not hurt badly, the first three questions in your mind would be: Where am I? How can I discover it? What should I do?

    You see unfamiliar vegetation outside, and there is air to breathe; the sunlight seems paler than you remember it and colder. You turn to look at the sky, but stop. You are struck by a sudden feeling: if you don't look, you won't have to know that you are, perhaps, too far from the earth and no return is possible; so long as you don't know it, you are free to believe what you wish—and you experience a foggy, pleasant, but somehow guilty, kind of hope.

    You turn to your instruments: they may be damaged, you don't know how seriously. But you stop, struck by a sudden fear: how can you trust these instruments? How can you be sure that they won't mislead you? How can you know whether they will work in a different world? You turn away from the instruments.

    Now you begin to wonder why you have no desire to do anything. It seems so much safer just to wait for something to turn up somehow; it is better, you tell yourself, not to rock the spaceship. Far in the distance, you see some sort of living creatures approaching; you don't know whether they are human, but they walk on two feet. They, you decide, will tell you what to do.

    You are never heard from again.

    This is fantasy, you say? You would not act like that and no astronaut ever would? Perhaps not. But this is the way most men live their lives, here, on earth.

    Most men spend their days struggling to evade three questions, the answers to which underlie man's every thought, feeling and action, whether he is consciously aware of it or not: Where am I? How do I know it? What should I do?

    By the time they are old enough to understand these questions, men believe that they know the answers. Where am I? Say, in New York City. How do I know it? It's self-evident. What should I do? Here, they are not too sure—but the usual answer is: whatever everybody does. The only trouble seems to be that they are not very active, not very confident, not very happy—and they experience, at times, a causeless fear and an undefined guilt, which they cannot explain or get rid of.

    They have never discovered the fact that the trouble comes from the three unanswered questions—and that there is only one science that can answer them: philosophy.

    Philosophy studies the fundamental nature of existence, of man, and of man's relationship to existence. As against the special sciences, which deal only with particular aspects, philosophy deals with those aspects of the universe which pertain to everything that exists. In the realm of cognition, the special sciences are the trees, but philosophy is the soil which makes the forest possible.

    Philosophy would not tell you, for instance, whether you are in New York City or in Zanzibar (though it would give you the means to find out). But here is what it would tell you: Are you in a universe which is ruled by natural laws and, therefore, is stable, firm, absolute--and knowable? Or are you in an incomprehensible chaos, a realm of inexplicable miracles, an unpredictable, unknowable flux, which your mind is impotent to grasp? Are the things you see around you real—or are they only an illusion? Do they exist independent of any observer—or are they created by the observer? Are they the object or the subject of man's consciousness? Are they what they are—or can they be changed by a mere act of your consciousness, such as a wish?

    The nature of your actions—and of your ambition—will be different, according to which set of answers you come to accept. These answers are the province of metaphysics—the study of existence as such or, in Aristotle's words, of "being qua being”—the basic branch of philosophy.

    No matter what conclusions you reach, you will be confronted by the necessity to answer another, corollary question: How do I know it? Since man is not omniscient or infallible, you have to discover what you can claim as knowledge and how to question: How do I know it? Since man is not omniscient or infallible, you have to discover what you can claim as knowledge and how to prove the validity of your conclusions. Does man acquire knowledge by a process of reason—or by sudden revelation from a supernatural power? Is reason a faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man's senses—or is it fed by innate ideas, implanted in man's mind before he was born? Is reason competent to perceive reality—or does man possess some other cognitive faculty which is superior to reason? Can man achieve certainty—or is he doomed to perpetual doubt? Does man acquire knowledge by a process of reason—or by sudden revelation from a supernatural power? Is reason a faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man's senses—or is it fed by innate ideas, implanted in man's mind before he was born? Is reason competent to perceive reality—or does man possess some other cognitive faculty which is superior to reason? Can man achieve certainty—or is he doomed to perpetual doubt?

    The extent of your self-confidence—and of your success—will be different, according to which set of answers you accept. These answers are the province of epistemology, the theory of knowledge, which studies man's means of cognition.

    These two branches are the theoretical foundation of philosophy. The third branch—ethics—may be regarded as its technology. Ethics does not apply to everything that exists, only to man, but it applies to every aspect of man's life: his character, his actions, his values, his relationship to all of existence. Ethics, or morality, defines a code of values to guide man's choices and actions—the choices and actions that determine the course of his life.

    Just as the astronaut in my story did not know what he should do, because he refused to know where he was and how to discover it, so you cannot know what you should do until you know the nature of the universe you deal with, the nature of your means of cognition—and your own nature. Before you come to ethics, you must answer the questions posed by metaphysics and epistemology: Is man a rational being, able to deal with reality—or is he a helplessly blind misfit, a chip buffeted by the universal flux? Are achievement and enjoyment possible to man on earth—or is he doomed to failure and disaster? Depending on the answers, you can proceed to consider the questions posed by ethics: What is good or evil for man—and why? Should man's primary concern be a quest for joy—or an escape from suffering? Should man hold self-fulfillment—or self-destruction—as the goal of his life? Should man pursue his values—or should he place the interests of others above his own? Should man seek happiness—or self-sacrifice?

    I do not have to point out the different consequences of these two sets of answers. You can see them everywhere—within you and around you.

    The answers given by ethics determine how man should treat other men, and this determines the fourth branch of philosophy: politics, which defines the principles of a proper social system. As an example of philosophy's function, political philosophy will not tell you how much rationed gas you should be given and on which day of the week—it will tell you whether the government has the right to impose any rationing on anything.

    The fifth and last branch of philosophy is esthetics, the study of art, which is based on metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. Art deals with the needs—the refueling—of man's consciousness.

    Now some of you might say, as many people do: "Aw, I never think in such abstract terms—I want to deal with concrete, particular, real-life problems—what do I need philosophy for?" My answer is: In order to be able to deal with concrete, particular, real-life problems—i.e., in order to be able to live on earth.

    You might claim—as most people do—that you have never been influenced by philosophy. I will ask you to check that claim. Have you ever thought or said the following? "Don't be so sure—nobody can be certain of anything." You got that notion from David Hume (and many, many others), even though you might never have heard of him. Or: "This may be good in theory, but it doesn't work in practice." You got that from Plato. Or: "That was a rotten thing to do, but it's only human, nobody is perfect in this world." You got it from Augustine. Or: "It may be true for you, but it's not true for me." You got it from William James. Or: "I couldn't help it! Nobody can help anything he does." You got it from Hegel. Or: "I can't prove it, but I feel feel that it's true." You got it from Kant. Or: "It's logical, but logic has nothing to do with reality." You got it from Kant. Or: "It's evil, because it's selfish." You got it from Kant. Have you heard the modern activists say: "Act first, think afterward"? They got it from John Dewey.

    Some people might answer: "Sure, I've said those things at different times, but I don't have to believe that stuff all of the time. It may have been true yesterday, but it's not true today." They got it from Hegel. They might say: "Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." They got it from a very little mind, Emerson. They might say: "But can't one compromise and borrow different ideas from different philosophies according to the expediency of the moment?" They got it from Richard Nixon—who got it from William James.

    Now ask yourself: if you are not interested in abstract ideas, why do you (and all men) feel compelled to use them? The fact is that abstract ideas are conceptual integrations which subsume an incalculable number of concretes—and that without abstract ideas you would not be able to deal with concrete, particular, real-life problems. You would be in the position of a newborn infant, to whom every object is a unique, unprecedented phenomenon. The difference between his mental state and yours lies in the number of conceptual integrations your mind has performed.

    You have no choice about the necessity to integrate your observations, your experiences, your knowledge into abstract ideas, i.e., into principles. Your only choice is whether these principles are true or false, whether they represent your conscious, rational convictions—or a grab-bag of notions snatched at random, whose sources, validity, context and consequences you do not know, notions which, more often than not, you would drop like a hot potato if you knew.

    But the principles you accept (consciously or subconsciously) may clash with or contradict one another; they, too, have to be integrated. What integrates them? Philosophy. 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.

    You might say, as many people do, that it is not easy always to act on abstract principles. No, it is not easy. But how much harder is it, to have to act on them without knowing what they are?

    Your subconscious is like a computer—more complex a computer than men can build—and its main function is the integration of your ideas. Who programs it? Your conscious mind. If you default, if you don't reach any firm convictions, your subconscious is programmed by chance—and you deliver yourself into the power of ideas you do not know you have accepted. But one way or the other, your computer gives you print-outs, daily and hourly, in the form of emotions—which are lightning-like estimates of the things around you, calculated according to your values. If you programmed your computer by conscious thinking, you know the nature of your values and emotions. If you didn't, you don't.

    Many people, particularly today, claim that man cannot live by logic alone, that there's the emotional element of his nature to consider, and that they rely on the guidance of their emotions. Well, so did the astronaut in my story. The joke is on him—and on them: man's values and emotions are determined by his fundamental view of life. The ultimate programmer of his subconscious is philosophy—the science which, according to the emotionalists, is impotent to affect or penetrate the murky mysteries of their feelings.

    The quality of a computer's output is determined by the quality of its input. If your subconscious is programmed by chance, its output will have a corresponding character. You have probably heard the computer operators' eloquent term "gigo”—which means: "Garbage in, garbage out." The same formula applies to the relationship between a man's thinking and his emotions.

    A man who is run by emotions is like a man who is run by a computer whose print-outs he cannot read. He does not know whether its programming is true or false, right or wrong, whether it's set to lead him to success or destruction, whether it serves his goals or those of some evil, unknowable power. He is blind on two fronts: blind to the world around him and to his own inner world, unable to grasp reality or his own motives, and he is in chronic terror of both. Emotions are not tools of cognition. The men who are not interested in philosophy need it most urgently: they are most helplessly in its power.

    The men who are not interested in philosophy absorb its principles from the cultural atmosphere around them—from schools, colleges, books, magazines, newspapers, movies, television, etc. Who sets the tone of a culture? A small handful of men: the philosophers. Others follow their lead, either by conviction or by default. For some two hundred years, under the influence of Immanuel Kant, the dominant trend of philosophy has been directed to a single goal: the destruction of man's mind, of his confidence in the power of reason. Today, we are seeing the climax of that trend.

    When men abandon reason, they find not only that their emotions cannot guide them, but that they can experience no emotions save one: terror. The spread of drug addiction among young people brought up on today's intellectual fashions, demonstrates the unbearable inner state of men who are deprived of their means of cognition and who seek escape from reality—from the terror of their impotence to deal with existence. Observe these young people's dread of independence and their frantic desire to "belong," to attach themselves to some group, clique or gang. Most of them have never heard of philosophy, but they sense that they need some fundamental answers to questions they dare not ask—and they hope that the tribe will tell them how to live. They are ready to be taken over by any witch doctor, guru, or dictator. One of the most dangerous things a man can do is to surrender his moral autonomy to others: like the astronaut in my story, he does not know whether they are human, even though they walk on two feet.

    Now you may ask: If philosophy can be that evil, why should one study it? Particularly, why should one study the philosophical theories which are blatantly false, make no sense, and bear no relation to real life?

    My answer is: In self-protection—and in defense of truth, justice, freedom, and any value you ever held or may ever hold.

    Not all philosophies are evil, though too many of them are, particularly in modern history. On the other hand, at the root of every civilized achievement, such as science, technology, progress, freedom—at the root of every value we enjoy today, including the birth of this country—you will find the achievement of one man, who lived over two thousand years ago: Aristotle.

    If you feel nothing but boredom when reading the virtually unintelligible theories of some philosophers, you have my deepest sympathy. But if you brush them aside, saying: "Why should I study that stuff when I know it's nonsense?”—you are mistaken. It is nonsense, but you don't know it—not so long as you go on accepting all their conclusions, all the vicious catch phrases generated by those philosophers. And not so long as you are unable to refute them.

    That nonsense deals with the most crucial, the life-or-death issues of man's existence. At the root of every significant philosophic theory, there is a legitimate issue—in the sense that there is an authentic need of man's consciousness, which some theories struggle to clarify and others struggle to obfuscate, to corrupt, to prevent man from ever discovering. The battle of philosophers is a battle for man's mind. If you do not understand their theories, you are vulnerable to the worst among them.

    The best way to study philosophy is to approach it as one approaches a detective story: follow every trail, clue and implication, in order to discover who is a murderer and who is a hero. The criterion of detection is two questions: Why? and How? If a given tenet seems to be true—why? If another tenet seems to be false—why? and how is it being put over? You will not find all the answers immediately, but you will acquire an invaluable characteristic: the ability to think in terms of essentials.

    Nothing is given to man automatically, neither knowledge, nor self-confidence, nor inner serenity, nor the right way to use his mind. Every value he needs or wants has to be discovered, learned and acquired—even the proper posture of his body. In this context, I want to say that I have always admired the posture of West Point graduates, a posture that projects man in proud, disciplined control of his body. Well, philosophical training gives man the proper intellectual posture—a proud, disciplined control of his mind.

    In your own profession, in military science, you know the importance of keeping track of the enemy's weapons, strategy and tactics—and of being prepared to counter them. The same is true in philosophy: you have to understand the enemy's ideas and be prepared to refute them, you have to know his basic arguments and be able to blast them.

    In physical warfare, you would not send your men into a booby trap: you would make every effort to discover its location. Well, Kant's system is the biggest and most intricate booby trap in the history of philosophy—but it's so full of holes that once you grasp its gimmick, you can defuse it without any trouble and walk forward over it in perfect safety. And, once it is defused, the lesser Kantians—the lower ranks of his army, the philosophical sergeants, buck privates, and mercenaries of today—will fall of their own weightlessness, by chain reaction.

    There is a special reason why you, the future leaders of the United States Army, need to be philosophically armed today. You are the target of a special attack by the Kantian-Hegelian-collectivist establishment that dominates our cultural institutions at present. You are the army of the last semi-free country left on earth, yet you are accused of being a tool of imperialism—and "imperialism" is the name given to the foreign policy of this country, which has never engaged in military conquest and has never profited from the two world wars, which she did not initiate, but entered and won. (It was, incidentally, a foolishly overgenerous policy, which made this country waste her wealth on helping both her allies and her former enemies.) Something called "the military-industrial complex”—which is a myth or worse—is being blamed for all of this country's troubles. Bloody college hoodlums scream demands that R.O.T.C. units be banned from college campuses. Our defense budget is being attacked, denounced and undercut by people who claim that financial priority should be given to ecological rose gardens and to classes in esthetic self-expression for the residents of the slums.

    Some of you may be bewildered by this campaign and may be wondering, in good faith, what errors you committed to bring it about. If so, it is urgently important for you to understand the nature of the enemy. You are attacked, not for any errors or flaws, but for your virtues. You are denounced, not for any weaknesses, but for your strength and your competence. You are penalized for being the protectors of the United States. On a lower level of the same issue, a similar kind of campaign is conducted against the police force. Those who seek to destroy this country, seek to disarm it—intellectually and physically. But it is not a mere political issue; politics is not the cause, but the last consequence of philosophical ideas. It is not a communist conspiracy, though some communists may be involved—as maggots cashing in on a disaster they had no power to originate. The motive of the destroyers is not love for communism, but hatred for America. Why hatred? Because America is the living refutation of a Kantian universe.

    Today's mawkish concern with and compassion for the feeble, the flawed, the suffering, the guilty, is a cover for the profoundly Kantian hatred of the innocent, the strong, the able, the successful, the virtuous, the confident, the happy. A philosophy out to destroy man's mind is necessarily a philosophy of hatred for man, for man's life, and for every human value. Hatred of the good for being the good, is the hallmark of the twentieth century. This is the enemy you are facing.

    A battle of this kind requires special weapons. It has to be fought with a full understanding of your cause, a full confidence in yourself, and the fullest certainty of the moral rightness of both. Only philosophy can provide you with these weapons.

    The assignment I gave myself for tonight is not to sell you on my philosophy, but on philosophy as such. I have, however, been speaking implicitly of my philosophy in every sentence—since none of us and no statement can escape from philosophical premises. What is my selfish interest in the matter? I am confident enough to think that if you accept the importance of philosophy and the task of examining it critically, it is my philosophy that you will come to accept. Formally, I call it Objectivism, but informally I call it a philosophy for living on earth. You will find an explicit presentation of it in my books, particularly in Atlas Shrugged.

    In conclusion, allow me to speak in personal terms. This evening means a great deal to me. I feel deeply honored by the opportunity to address you. I can say—not as a patriotic bromide, but with full knowledge of the necessary metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, political and esthetic roots—that the United States of America is the greatest, the noblest and, in its original founding principles, the only moral country in the history of the world. There is a kind of quiet radiance associated in my mind with the name West Point—because you have preserved the spirit of those original founding principles and you are their symbol. There were contradictions and omissions in those principles, and there may be in yours—but I am speaking of the essentials. There may be individuals in your history who did not live up to your highest standards—as there are in every institution—since no institution and no social system can guarantee the automatic perfection of all its members; this depends on an individual's free will. I am speaking of your standards. You have preserved three qualities of character which were typical at the time of America's birth, but are virtually nonexistent today: earnestness—dedication—a sense of honor. Honor is self-esteem made visible in action.

    You have chosen to risk your lives for the defense of this country. I will not insult you by saying that you are dedicated to selfless service—it is not a virtue in my morality. In my morality, the defense of one's country means that a man is personally unwilling to live as the conquered slave of any enemy, foreign or domestic. This is an enormous virtue. Some of you may not be consciously aware of it. I want to help you to realize it.

    The army of a free country has a great responsibility: the right to use force, but not as an instrument of compulsion and brute conquest—as the armies of other countries have done in their histories—only as an instrument of a free nation's self-defense, which means: the defense of a man's individual rights. The principle of using force only in retaliation against those who initiate its use, is the principle of subordinating might to right. The highest integrity and sense of honor are required for such a task. No other army in the world has achieved it. You have.

    West Point has given America a long line of heroes, known and unknown. You, this year's graduates, have a glorious tradition to carry on—which I admire profoundly, not because it is a tradition, but because it is is glorious.

    Since I came from a country guilty of the worst tyranny on earth, I am particularly able to appreciate the meaning, the greatness and the supreme value of that which you are defending. So, in my own name and in the name of many people who think as I do, I want to say, to all the men of West Point, past, present and future: Thank you.



    from The Ayn Rand Column; pages 7-10 [“War and Peace” (June 24, 1962)]:

    One of the ugliest characteristics of today’s world is the mixture of frantic war preparations with hysterical peace propaganda , and the fact that both come from the same source – from the same political philosophy. If mankind is ever to achieve peace, the first step will be made when people realize that today’s peace movements are not advocates of peace.

    Professing love and concern for the survival of mankind, these movements keep screaming that nuclear weapons have made war too horrible to contemplate, that armed force and violence should be abolished as a means of settling disputes among nations, and that war should be outlawed in the name of humanity. Yet these same peace movements do not oppose dictatorships; the political views of their members range through all shades of the statist spectrum, from “welfare statism” to socialism and communism. This means that these movements are opposed to the use of coercion by one nation against another, but not by the government of a nation against its own citizens; it means that they are opposed to the use of force and violence against armed adversaries, but not against the disarmed.

    Under any political system, in any organized society, the government holds a legal monopoly on the use of political force. That is the crucial difference between a government and any private organization. Private individuals or groups deal with one another peacefully, by means of trade, persuasion, discussion, and voluntary agreements; they cannot resort to force; those who do, are criminals – and it is the proper duty of government to restrain them.

    In a free, civilized society, the use of physical force is outlawed by the recognition of men’s inalienable, individual rights. The power of the government is limited by law to the role of a policeman that protects men’s rights and uses force only against those who initiate its use. This is the basic political principle of the only social system that banishes force from human relationships: laissez-faire capitalism.

    But a statist system—whether of a communist, fascist, Nazi, socialist or “welfare” type—is based on the opposite principle: on the government’s unlimited power, which means: on the rule of brute force. The differences among statist systems are only a matter of time and degree; the principle is the same. Under statism, the government is not a policeman, but a legalized criminal that holds the power to use physical force in any manner and for any purpose it pleases against legally disarmed, defenseless victims.

    Nothing can ever justify so monstrously evil a theory. Nothing can justify the horror, the brutality, the plunder, the destruction, the starvation, the slave-labor camps, the torture chambers, the wholesale slaughter of statist dictatorships. Yet this is what today’s alleged peace lovers are willing to advocate or tolerate -- in the name of love for humanity.

    Statism is a system of institutionalized violence and perpetual civil war, that leaves men no choice but to fight to seize power over one another. In a full dictatorship, that civil war takes the form of bloody purges, as in Nazi Germany, and Soviet Russia. In a “mixed economy,” it takes the form of “pressure group” warfare, each group fighting for legislation to extort its own advantages by force from all other groups.

    Statism is nothing more than gang rule. A statist dictatorship is a gang devoted to looting the effort of the productive citizens of its own country. When statist rulers exhaust their own country’s economy and run out of loot, they attack their neighbors. All the major wars of history were started by the more controlled economies of the time against the freer ones. For instance, World War I was started by monarchist Germany and Czarist Russia, which were “mixed economies” of a predominantly statist kind. World War II was started by the alliance of Nazi Germany with Soviet Russia and their joint attack on Poland.

    Observe that in World War II, Germany and Russia dismantled entire factories in conquered countries, to ship them home – while the freest one of the “mixed economies,” the semi-capitalistic United States, sent billions worth of lend-lease equipment, including entire factories, to its allies. Germany and Russia needed war; the United States did not and gained nothing. Yet it is capitalism that today’s peace-lovers oppose and statism that they advocate--in the name of peace.

    There is no moral justification for the vicious doctrine that some men have the right to rule others by force. But so long as men continue to believe that some sort of alleged “noble purpose” can justify it--violence, bloodshed and wars will continue. It is true that nuclear weapons have made wars too horrible to contemplate. But it makes no difference to man whether he is killed by a nuclear bomb or is led to a Nazi gas chamber or a Soviet firing squad, with no voices raised to defend him. Will such a man feel any love or concern for the survival of mankind? Or will he be more justified in feeling that a cannibalistic mankind, which tolerates dictatorships, does not deserve to survive?

    Let those who are seriously concerned with peace, those who do love man and do care about his survival, realize that war cannot be outlawed by lawless statist thugs and that it is not war but force that has to be outlawed.
















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    LSI. Definately not Te or Ne valuing as she was definite in how she made her points, which suggests Se, and as a Te ego type I don't relate to her strict use of categorical logic, either.

    I just don't see how anyone could think ILI, she used linear logic seprated things into black and white categories, ILIs tend to use logic to criticise methods or develop their own rather than categorize stuff.

    That said, I like her ideas but the way she expressed them is too linear for my taste. Reading Atlas Shrugged is supenseful in terms of plotline but the characters don't seem to have any psychological ambiguity, they are incarnations examples of what Rand considered virtue/vice.

    I also find her approach to using ethics as a way of defending capitalism rather than the argument of its efficiency a pretty original angle of attack on collectivistic approaches to the economy/society.
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    Ayn Rand= Enlightenment + Romanticism + Nietzsche

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nebula View Post
    Ayn Rand= Enlightenment + Romanticism + Nietzsche
    How about:
    LSI = Enlightenment + Romanticism + ILI
    or
    ILI = LSI - Enlightenment - Romanticism
    Quote Originally Posted by Groucho Marx
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    Quote Originally Posted by Avebury View Post
    LSI. Definately not Te or Ne valuing as she was definite in how she made her points, which suggests Se, and as a Te ego type I don't relate to her strict use of categorical logic, either.

    I just don't see how anyone could think ILI, she used linear logic seprated things into black and white categories, ILIs tend to use logic to criticise methods or develop their own rather than categorize stuff.

    That said, I like her ideas but the way she expressed them is too linear for my taste. Reading Atlas Shrugged is supenseful in terms of plotline but the characters don't seem to have any psychological ambiguity, they are incarnations examples of what Rand considered virtue/vice.

    I also find her approach to using ethics as a way of defending capitalism rather than the argument of its efficiency a pretty original angle of attack on collectivistic approaches to the economy/society.
    I agree. She also has an underlying dramatic flair which is usually characteristic of Beta quadras.
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    I have kind of hard time to understand NT type. Her writings are long and filled with details.

    tember 2. Eddie Willers looked away. He had never liked the sight of that calendar.
    It disturbed him, in a manner he could not explain or define. The feeling
    seemed to blend with his sense of uneasiness; it had the same quality.
    He thought suddenly that there was some phrase, a kind of quotation, that
    expressed what the calendar seemed to suggest. But he could not recall it. He
    walked, groping for a sentence that hung in his mind as an empty shape. He
    could neither fill it nor dismiss it. He glanced back. The white rectangle
    stood above the roofs, saying in immovable finality: September 2.
    Eddie Willers shifted his glance down to the street, to a vegetable
    pushcart at the stoop of a brownstone house. He saw a pile of bright gold
    carrots and the fresh green of onions. He saw a clean white curtain blowing
    at an open window. He saw a bus turning a corner, expertly steered. He
    wondered why he felt reassured—and then, why he felt the sudden, inexplicable
    wish that these things were not left in the open, unprotected against the
    empty space above.
    When he came to Fifth Avenue, he kept his eyes on the windows of the
    stores he passed. There was nothing he needed or wished to buy; but he liked
    to see the display of good?, any goods, objects made by men, to be used by
    men. He enjoyed the sight of a prosperous street; not more than every fourth
    one of the stores was out of business, its windows dark and empty.
    He did not know why he suddenly thought of the oak tree. Nothing had
    recalled it. But he thought of it and of his childhood summers on the Taggart
    estate. He had spent most of his childhood with the Taggart children, and now
    he worked for them, as his father and grandfather had worked for their father
    and grandfather.
    The great oak tree had stood on a hill over the Hudson, in a lonely spot
    of the Taggart estate. Eddie Willers, aged seven, liked to come and look at
    that tree. It had stood there for hundreds of years, and he thought it would
    always stand there. Its roots clutched the hill like a fist with fingers sunk
    into the soil, and he thought that if a giant were to seize it by the top, he
    would not be able to uproot it, but would swing the hill and the whole of the
    earth with it, like a ball at the end of a string. He felt safe in the oak
    tree's presence; it was a thing that nothing could change or threaten; it was
    his greatest symbol of strength.
    One night, lightning struck the oak tree. Eddie saw it the next morning.
    It lay broken in half, and he looked into its trunk as into the mouth of a
    black tunnel. The trunk was only an empty shell; its heart had rotted away
    long ago; there was nothing inside—just a thin gray dust that was being
    dispersed by the whim of the faintest wind. The living power had gone, and
    the shape it left had not been able to stand without it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Groucho Marx
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    Through which Sun of Being’s Light is passed,
    Each tinted fragment sparkles with the Sun,
    A thousand colors, but the Light is One.

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    I still think SLE. Of course her impersonally capitalistic attitude and objectivism philosophy could be stereotypically construed as gamma, but if you examine the way she treated them, it doesn't really hold. In a word, she had ideological motivations, and aimed at an encompassing system that would give ontological credence to her aristocratic preferences on how to approach and deal with reality, not a more heuristic kind of methodology that would allow for more exploration and naturally unfolding logic. Just look at the way she treated her underlings and talked about her ideas to people.
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    INTx imo

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    Quote Originally Posted by strrrng View Post
    I still think SLE. Of course her impersonally capitalistic attitude and objectivism philosophy could be stereotypically construed as gamma, but if you examine the way she treated them, it doesn't really hold. In a word, she had ideological motivations, and aimed at an encompassing system that would give ontological credence to her aristocratic preferences on how to approach and deal with reality, not a more heuristic kind of methodology that would allow for more exploration and naturally unfolding logic. Just look at the way she treated her underlings and talked about her ideas to people.
    I agree with this.

    Her philosophy itself seems very gamma, because of its emphasis on freedom, capitalism, individualism, and objective reality, but the way she expounded it was more beta as she was quite ideological and held onto her principles. Her logic was more about staying loyal to a system of thought rather than constantly adapting itself to reality.

    So I agree with what you're arguing here about beta over gamma, though why SLE over LSI?


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    I'd say LSI. Incidentally, Fardraft made a thread about Te ignoring, and given her complete rejection of the practical logic of religious institutions and communism, I'd say she fits the bill for Te ignoring. Additionally, she devised her own system of epistemology and ethics, in contrast with the practical logic she seems to ignore, which seems Ti base.



    In this video, watching the focus of her gaze, she seems really focused on the physical environment. She looks at the interview, the camera-man, everywhere. She navigates the conversation like a tactician, responding to various points as they come up. She seems like she enjoys the thrill of the challenges in the present moment.
    "Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see." - Schopenhauer

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    SLE is okay. The ferocity with which she disallows Wallace cutting her short is oof. She has a ridiculously heavy physical presence. There is none of the politeness of Fi role. LSIs usually look like they have a thought bubble over their heads, but she is super immediate.

    Her values have played out across the sociocultural field as F-polr.
    LSI: “I still can’t figure out Pinterest.”

    Me: “It’s just, like, idea boards.”

    LSI: “I don’t have ideas.”

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    SLE is a better fit. This goes to show that you can't really rely on quadra values. Ayn Rand's philosophy is extremely Ti. You can see it even in her speeches where she breaks down concepts in a way that only Ti can do. She's too Se driven to be LIE. Gamma NTs are more reflective in nature. Also, you should actually read her works. The way she *rejects* Fi completely... There's no way that's an Fi dual seeking type. I could maybe see her as LSI as a second option.

    Not everyone who likes capitalism and business stuff is a gamma and I'm tired of that stereotype. Do you have actual arguments for her being an LIE? Or is it just some bs you made up?
    "My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind"



    "Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living; you said I killed you—haunt me, then!... Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!"




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    Quote Originally Posted by Pano Lou View Post
    Not everyone who likes capitalism and business stuff is a gamma and I'm tired of that stereotype. Do you have actual arguments for her being an LIE? Or is it just some bs you made up?
    I don’t even take those Gamma typings seriously because Rand was an elitist par excellence. Her “heroes” were special and reaped the profit; the ordinary workers were “savages.” It’s not a Te/Ni dynamic, because poorly regarded workers don’t lead to greater profit over the long term, not at a broader societal level—and I’ve yet to observe any Gamma who doesn’t understand that supremely well.
    LSI: “I still can’t figure out Pinterest.”

    Me: “It’s just, like, idea boards.”

    LSI: “I don’t have ideas.”

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    Quote Originally Posted by golden View Post
    I don’t even take those Gamma typings seriously because Rand was an elitist par excellence. Her “heroes” were special and reaped the profit; the ordinary workers were “savages.” It’s not a Te/Ni dynamic, because poorly regarded workers don’t lead to greater profit over the long term, and I’ve yet to observe any Gamma who doesn’t understand that supremely well.
    Sounds like Rand was Aristocratic.
    "Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see." - Schopenhauer

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    Quote Originally Posted by A Moderator View Post
    Sounds like Rand was Aristocratic.
    Yes.

    It would be nice to stick her somewhere other than Beta, but she’s a Beta.
    LSI: “I still can’t figure out Pinterest.”

    Me: “It’s just, like, idea boards.”

    LSI: “I don’t have ideas.”

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    Quote Originally Posted by Avebury View Post
    I agree with this.

    Her philosophy itself seems very gamma, because of its emphasis on freedom, capitalism, individualism, and objective reality, but the way she expounded it was more beta as she was quite ideological and held onto her principles. Her logic was more about staying loyal to a system of thought rather than constantly adapting itself to reality.

    So I agree with what you're arguing here about beta over gamma, though why SLE over LSI?
    Well, for one, she acts like an SLE. The emphasis is always on how she can streamline her ideas to accentuate her presence in relation to whatever boundaries she deems need to be asserted or game to be won. As someone already mentioned, in that interview, her whole manner of expression and the way she reacts is just off for LSI, even a heavy Se-sub—her energy has a more "offensive" quality, not the kind of controlled reactivity Se-IJs manifest here and there or at intervals to keep their boundaries balanced.

    Another thing is that she loves IEIs. Howard Roark is probably the most archetypal IEI fictional character I've ever come across, and John Galt is IEI as well. The qualities she emphasizes her appreciation for the most are their refinement, existential awareness, and single-minded willingness to commit to a vision that barely anyone gets. And just the way they interact with other characters is so exemplarily IEI, lol, like Galt suggestively inquiring into Dagny's motives or Roark mockingly alluding to his pursuits when Keating is pressuring him for justifications on something. It's like what Rand wishes she could do.

    Aside from that I just think she's my dual.
    4w3-5w6-8w7

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    Quote Originally Posted by golden View Post
    Yes.

    It would be nice to stick her somewhere other than Beta, but she’s a Beta.
    My condolences.
    "Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see." - Schopenhauer

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    Although I initially typed her as an ILI (before I gave it any rational thought), one other point in favor of SLE is that IRL, she seemed to advocate for Free Love (and what SLE doesn't like that?), but when her much younger married lover took on a third partner, she was outraged at the betrayal and vowed to destroy him. Fi-PoLR?

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    Quote Originally Posted by A Moderator View Post
    My condolences.
    I’ll never forget when my (very successful in economic sphere) SEE former father-in-law tried to read The Fountainhead. He’d been looking forward to reading it for years and finally made the time after an early retirement. He got about halfway through and said he had to face it, the whole thing was pretentious garbage.
    LSI: “I still can’t figure out Pinterest.”

    Me: “It’s just, like, idea boards.”

    LSI: “I don’t have ideas.”

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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Strange View Post
    Although I initially typed her as an ILI (before I gave it any rational thought), one other point in favor of SLE is that IRL, she seemed to advocate for Free Love (and what SLE doesn't like that?), but when her much younger married lover took on a third partner, she was outraged at the betrayal and vowed to destroy him. Fi-PoLR?
    She rejects sentimentality completely. Reality is totally objective. Your feelings don't matter.

    For example: "If you tell an ugly woman shes beautiful, you do her the great homage of corrupting the concept of beauty" This is an absolute logical statement that completely rejects Fi, the idea that someone could value something that Rand doesn't is almost absurd to her. She's so Fi PoLR, it's comical. Do you think an LIE would make an absolute statement like that?
    "My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind"



    "Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living; you said I killed you—haunt me, then!... Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!"




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    Quote Originally Posted by golden View Post
    I’ll never forget when my (very successful in economic sphere) SEE former father-in-law tried to read The Fountainhead. He’d been looking forward to reading it for years and finally made the time after an early retirement. He got about halfway through and said he had to face it, the whole thing was pretentious garbage.
    I remember reading Anthem, and I was fairly on board until the end, when it seemed to imply that only a specific, special kind of person could establish the Objectivist utopia Rand envisioned. At that point, I thought: "Well, what about everybody else?" The philosophy seems to paradoxically exclude certain people, while also trying to install its principles as universal. For a philosophy so allegedly grounded in objective reality, the gist didn't seem very practical, considering human nature. Which I guess is why so many type Rand is Gamma NT, but probably it's just aristocratic traits mixed with low-dimensionality Ni.
    "Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see." - Schopenhauer

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