Objectivism the Philosophy

If you're wondering, "Philosophy? Why do I need a philosophy?" read this.

Background and Motivation

One woman, Ayn Rand, formulated this philosophy in the middle of the 20th century. Of it she said,

"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."

As MIT students, you can hopefully appreciate that a philosophy based on reason may be technically demanding but let us assure that it is also highly rewarding. Also, note from the beginning that as you explore you may find yourself questioning the assertions made, or even better, having visceral reactions to the ideas. In that case, good! Figure out why -- keep reading, if necessary -- and then decide for yourself who's right.

For the sake of provoking you into thought, here are some things an Objectivist might say:

  • Reality is real, independent of your consciousness of it.
  • Reason is the only valid means of knowledge.
  • Morality is not relative or subjective, it's absolute, and it doesn't come from religion.
  • "There's no such thing as society, there are only individuals." (Margaret Thatcher)
  • The only moral political system is laissez-faire capitalism.

The philosophy stands in opposition to anyone who would say any of the following:

  • "Life is but a dream."
  • "Have faith." (George W. Bush)
  • "One country's terrorist is another country's freedom fighter."
  • "Man is just a fragment of the state."
  • "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." (Karl Marx)

Consider, as one last motivation, the following questions. How would you answer them?

  • Should motorcyclists be lawfully required to wear helmets?
  • Does God exist?
  • Is money the root of evil?
  • Should "crimes of passion" bear less punishment than premeditated crimes?
  • Is either one of the country's two parties adequate for government in the next century?

To which an Objectivist would answer a resounding, "No, and I'm certain of it."

We've got a lot of work to do, so let's get started!

Copyright MIT Objectivist Club 2005