Internet Chess Club


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

Ayn Rand named her philosophy "Objectivism" and described it
as a philosophy for living on earth. Objectivism is an integrated
system of thought that defines the abstract principles by which a man
must think and act if he is to live the life proper to man. Ayn Rand
first portrayed her philosophy in the form of the heroes of her best-
selling novels, The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957).
She later expressed her philosophy in nonfiction form.
Ayn Rand was once asked if she could present the essence of
Objectivism while standing on one foot. Her answer was:
1. Metaphysics: Objective Reality
2. Epistemology: Reason
3. Ethics: Self-interest
4. Politics: Capitalism
She then translated those terms into familiar language:
1. "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed."
2. "You can't eat your cake and have it too."
3. "Man is an end in himself."
4. "Give me liberty or give me death."

The basic principles of Objectivism can be summarized as follows:
1. Metaphysics: "Reality, the external world, exists independent
of man's consciousness, independent of any observer's knowledge,
beliefs, feelings, desires or fears. This means that A is A, that
facts are facts, that things are what they are – and that the task of
man's consciousness is to perceive reality, not to create or invent
it." Thus Objectivism rejects any belief in the supernatural – and
any claim that individuals or groups create their own reality.
2. Epistemology: "Man's reason is fully competent to know the
facts of reality. Reason, the conceptual faculty, is the faculty that
identifies and integrates the material provided by man's senses.
Reason is man's only means of acquiring knowledge." Thus Objectivism
rejects mysticism (any acceptance of faith or feeling as a means of
knowledge), and it rejects skepticism (the claim that certainty or
knowledge is impossible).
3. Human Nature: Man is a rational being. Reason, as man's only
means of knowledge, is his basic means of survival. But the exercise
of reason depends on each individual's choice. "Man is a being of
volitional consciousness." "That which you call your soul or spirit
is your consciousness, and that which you call `free will' is your
mind's freedom to think or not, the only will you have, your only
freedom. [This is] the choice that controls all the choices you make
and determines your life and character." Thus Objectivism rejects any
form of determinism, the belief that man is a victim of forces beyond
his control (such as God, fate, upbringing, genes, or economic
4. Ethics: "Reason is man's only proper judge of values and his
only proper guide to action. The proper standard of ethics is: man's
survival qua man – i.e., that which is required by man's nature for
his survival as a rational being (not his momentary physical survival
as a mindless brute); Rationality is man's basic virtue, and his
three fundamental values are: reason, purpose, self-esteem. Man –
every man – is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others;
he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others
nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his rational self-
interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest
moral purpose of his life." Thus Objectivism rejects any form of
altruism – the claim that morality consists in living for others or
for society.
5. Politics: "The basic social principle of the Objectivist
ethics is that no man has the right to seek values from others by
means of physical force – i.e., no man or group has the right to
initiate the use of physical force against others. Men have the right
to use force only in self-defense and only against those who initiate
its use. Men must deal with one another as traders, giving value for
value, by free, mutual consent to mutual benefit. The only social
system that bars physical force from human relationships is laissez-
faire capitalism. Capitalism is a system based on the recognition of
individual rights, including property rights, in which the only
function of the government is to protect individual rights, i.e., to
protect men from those who initiate the use of physical force." Thus
Objectivism rejects any form of collectivism, such as fascism or
socialism. It also rejects the current "mixed economy" notion that
the government should regulate the economy and redistribute wealth.
6. Esthetics: "Art is a selective re-creation of reality
according to an artist's metaphysical value-judgments." The purpose
of art is to concretize the artist's fundamental view of existence.
Ayn Rand described her own approach to art as "Romantic Realism"; "I
am a Romantic in the sense that I present men as they ought to be. I
am a Realistic in the sense that I place them here and now on this
earth." The goal of Ayn Rand's novels is not didactic but artistic:
the projection of an ideal man: "My purpose, first cause and prime
mover is the portrayal of Howard Roark or John Galt or W.S. Duncan-
Binns or Francisco d'Ancomia as an end in himself – not as a means to
any further end.