“Objectivism” is the name Ayn Rand gave to her philosophy. She described it as “the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.” Rand remarked that in the history of philosophy she could only recommend “three A’s” — Aristotle, Aquinas, and Ayn Rand.”
In metaphysics Rand opposed anything she regarded as mysticism, including all forms of religion.
In epistemology (the nature of knowledge), she considered all knowledge to be based on sense perception, and the validity therein axiomatic (self-evident). Reason she described as “the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses.” She rejected “instinct, intuition, revelation, or any form of just knowing.”
In ethics (moral questions) Rand argued for rational self-interest as the guiding principle. The individual should “exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself.” She referred to “the virtue of selfishness” in a book by that title. She condemned ethical altruism (regard for others) as incompatible with the requirements of human life and happiness. She also held that the initiation of force was evil and irrational. In ATLAS SHRUGGED she wrote, “Force and mind are opposites.
Rand’s political philosophy emphasized the individual (including property rights) and considered laissez-faire (opposing governmental interference in economic affairs beyond the maintenance of peace and property rights) capitalism the only moral social system. In her view capitalism is the one system that protects the individual. She opposed theocracy, monarchy, fascism, communism, democratic socialism, and dictatorship. Rand believed that rights should be enforced by a constitutionally limited government. Her political views were often called conservative or libertarian. She preferred “radical for capitalism”. She disagreed with conservatives on religion and ethics. She denounced libertarianism which she associated with anarchism — a naive theory based on subjectivism and could only lead to collectivism.
Rand’s esthetics defined art as “a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist’s metaphysical value-judgements”. She saw art as allowing philosophical concepts to be presented in a concrete form that could be easily grasped and fulfill a need in human consciousness. Rand’s art form was literature, where she considered Romanticism to be the most accurate reflection of human free will. She described her own approach as “romantic realism.
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