“My philosophy, in essence, is 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.”
Ayn Rand was unleashed on the world 99 years ago today, February 2, 1905. As a novelist and philosopher, the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged did more than any one other person in the last century to re-direct the basic philosophical discourse of mankind.
Her detractors ridicule her and throw invectives as at no other person in the history of letters. Socialists and altruists of all stripes hate her and her individualist philosophy like Dracula hates holy water. Consider it a sign of her power.
If you’re not familiar with Ms. Rand, your best bet would be to read The Fountainhead, then take a deep breath and delve into Atlas Shrugged. They’re like the Old Testament and the New Testament. I won’t say that they have all the answers to life’s problems, but she asks a lot of the right questions in ways that no one ever had before. Those who know will tell you that Atlas Shrugged is the most important book of the last century.
Besides any specific answers, I have found her framing of the basic questions of philosophy to be invaluable. In her presentation, there are five basic root philosophical issues:
1) Epistemology – How do we “know” things, and what does it mean when we say that we “know” something? This is the big wrap around question for everything else.
2) Metaphysics – Is there a god, and if so what is his nature?
3) Ethics – What is morality, right and wrong? By what standards of value should we live our lives?
4) Politics – What is government, where does it get it’s legitimacy, and what should it do? Ethics is about what we SHOULD do. Politics is about what we should HAVE to do.
5) Aesthetics – What is beauty? What is art? How do you understand and appreciate art?
She had- to put it mildly- firm opinions on these questions, but just framing the questions has been as important to me personally as any of her specific answers.
Happy birthday Ayn, and thank you. Enjoy Valhalla. You’ve earned it.Powered by Sidelines