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Ayn Rand
Half-length monochrome portrait photo of Ayn Rand, seated, holding a cigarette
Ayn Rand
Born Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum
February 2, 1905(1905-02-02)
Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
Died March 6, 1982 (aged 77)
New York City, United States
Occupation Philosopher, writer
Alma mater University of Petrograd
Notable work(s) The Fountainhead
Atlas Shrugged
Spouse(s) Frank O'Connor (m. 1929)

Ayn Rand (pronounced /ˈain ˈrænd/;[2] born Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum; February 2 [O.S. January 20] 1905 – March 6, 1982), was a Russian-American novelist, philosopher,[3] playwright, and screenwriter. She is known for her two best-selling novels and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism. Born and educated in Russia, Rand immigrated to the United States in 1926. She worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood and had a play produced on Broadway in 1935–1936. She first achieved fame in 1943 with her novel The Fountainhead, which in 1957 was followed by her best-known work, the philosophical novel Atlas Shrugged.

Rand's political views, reflected in both her fiction and her theoretical work, emphasize individual rights (including property rights) and laissez-faire capitalism, enforced by a constitutionally-limited government. She was a fierce opponent of all forms of collectivism and statism,[4][5] including fascism, communism, socialism, and the welfare state,[6] and promoted ethical egoism while rejecting the ethic of altruism.[7] She considered reason to be the only means of acquiring knowledge and the most important aspect of her philosophy,[8] stating, "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."[9]


Life and work

Early life

Rand was born Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum (Russian: Алиса Зиновьевна Розенбаум) in 1905, into a middle-class family living in Saint Petersburg. She was the eldest of the three daughters (Alisa, Natasha, and Nora) of Zinovy Zakharovich Rosenbaum and Anna Borisovna Rosenbaum, largely non-observant Jews. Her father was educated as a chemist and became a successful pharmacist, eventually owning his own pharmacy and the building in which it was located.[10]

Rand was twelve at the time of the Russian revolution of 1917. Opposed to the Tsar, Rand's sympathies were with Alexander Kerensky. Rand's family life was disrupted by the rise of the Bolshevik party. Her father's pharmacy was confiscated by the Soviets, and the family fled to the Crimea which was initially under the control of the White Army. She later recalled that while in high school she determined that she was an atheist and that she valued reason and intellect. She graduated from high school in the Crimea and briefly held a job teaching Red Army soldiers to read. She found she enjoyed that work very much, the illiterate soldiers being eager to learn and respectful of her. At sixteen, Rand returned with her family to Saint Petersburg.[11][12]

A black-and-white engraving shows a large building along the bank of a river, with numerous people and carriages nearby
Rand completed a three-year program in the department of social pedagogy at the University of Petrograd.

She enrolled at the University of Petrograd, where she studied in the department of social pedagogy, majoring in history.[13] At university she was introduced to the writings of Aristotle and Plato, who would form two of the greatest influences and counter-influences respectively on her thought.[13][14] A third figure whose philosophical works she studied heavily was Friedrich Nietzsche.[15] Her formal study of philosophy amounted to only a few courses, and outside of these three philosophers, her study of key figures was limited to excerpts and summaries.[16] Of the writers she read at this time, Victor Hugo, Edmond Rostand, Friedrich Schiller, and Fyodor Dostoevsky became her perennial favorites.[17] Along with a number of other non-Communist students, Rand was purged from the university shortly before completing. However, after complaints from a group of visiting foreign scientists, the Communists relented and allowed many of the expelled students to complete their work and graduate,[18] which Rand did in October 1924.[13] She subsequently studied for a year at the State Technicum for Screen Arts.[19]

In the fall of 1925, she was granted a visa to visit American relatives. She left Russia on January 17, 1926, and arrived in the United States on February 19, entering by ship through New York City.[20] After a brief stay with her relatives in Chicago, she resolved never to return to the Soviet Union, and set out for Hollywood to become a screenwriter. While still in Russia she had decided her professional surname for writing would be Rand,[21] possibly as a Cyrillic contraction of her birth surname,[22] and she adopted the first name Ayn, either from a Finnish name or from the Hebrew word עין (ayin, meaning "eye").[23] Initially, she struggled in Hollywood and took odd jobs to pay her basic living expenses. A chance meeting with famed director Cecil B. DeMille led to a job as an extra in his film, The King of Kings, and to subsequent work as a junior screenwriter.[24] While working on The King of Kings, she intentionally bumped into an aspiring young actor, Frank O'Connor, who caught her eye. The two married on April 15, 1929. Rand became an American citizen in 1931. Taking various jobs during the 1930s to support her writing, Rand worked for a time as the head of the costume department at RKO Studios.[25] She made attempts to bring her parents and sisters to the United States, but they were unable to get permission to emigrate.[26]

Early fiction

A brown book cover with black-and-white drawings and text in Russian. The drawing on the left is a portrait of a woman with dark hair; the drawing on the right is of skyscrapers.
Cover of Rand's first book, a 2,500-word monograph on the Polish femme fatale Pola Negri published in 1925.[27]

Rand's first literary success came with the sale of her screenplay Red Pawn to Universal Studios in 1932. Josef Von Sternberg considered it for Marlene Dietrich, but anti-Soviet themes were unpopular at the time, and the project came to nothing.[28] This was followed by the courtroom drama Night of January 16th, first produced in Hollywood in 1934, and then successfully reopened on Broadway in 1935. Each night the "jury" was selected from members of the audience, and one of the two different endings, depending on the jury's "verdict," would then be performed.[29] In 1941, Paramount Pictures produced a movie version of the play. Rand did not participate in the production and was highly critical of the result.[30]

Her first novel, the semi-autobiographical We the Living, was published in 1936 by Macmillan. Set in Communist Russia, it focused on the struggle between the individual and the state. In the foreword to the novel, Rand stated that We the Living "is as near to an autobiography as I will ever write. It is not an autobiography in the literal, but only in the intellectual sense. The plot is invented, the background is not..."[31] Without Rand's knowledge or permission, We the Living was made into a pair of Italian films, Noi vivi and Addio, Kira, in 1942. Rediscovered in the 1960s, these films were re-edited into a new version which was approved by Rand and re-released as We the Living in 1986.[32]

Her novella Anthem was published in England in 1938 and in America seven years later. It presents a vision of a dystopian future world in which collectivism has triumphed to such an extent that even the word "I" has vanished from the language and from humanity's memory.

The Fountainhead and political activism

During the 1940s, Rand became involved in political activism. Both she and her husband worked full time in volunteer positions for the 1940 Presidential campaign of Republican Wendell Willkie. This work led to Rand's first public speaking experiences, including fielding the sometimes hostile questions from New York City audiences who had just viewed pro-Willkie newsreels, an experience she greatly enjoyed.[33] This activity also brought her into contact with other intellectuals sympathetic to free-market capitalism. She became friends with journalist Henry Hazlitt and his wife, and Hazlitt introduced her to the Austrian School economist Ludwig von Mises. Both men expressed an admiration for Rand, and despite her philosophical differences with them, Rand strongly endorsed the writings of both men throughout her career.[34] She also developed a friendship with libertarian writer Isabel Paterson. Rand questioned the well-informed Paterson about American history and politics long into the night during their numerous meetings, and gave Paterson ideas for her only nonfiction book, The God of the Machine.[35]

Rand's first major success as a writer came with The Fountainhead in 1943, a romantic and philosophical novel that she wrote over a period of seven years.[36] The novel centers on an uncompromising young architect named Howard Roark, and his struggle against what Rand described as "second-handers" — those who attempt to live through others, placing others above self. It was rejected by twelve publishers before finally being accepted by the Bobbs-Merrill Company on the insistence of editor Archibald Ogden, who threatened to quit if his employer did not publish it.[37] While completing the novel, Rand began taking the prescription amphetamine Benzedrine to fight fatigue.[38] Her use of the drug enabled her to work long hours to meet her deadline for delivering the finished novel to Bobbs-Merrill, but when the book was done she was so exhausted that her doctor ordered two weeks rest.[39] Her continued use of it for several decades also may have contributed to volatile mood swings observed by her associates in later years.[40]

The Fountainhead eventually became a worldwide success, bringing Rand fame and financial security.[41] In 1943, Rand sold the rights for a film version to Warner Brothers, and she returned to Hollywood to write the screenplay. Finishing her work on that screenplay, she was hired by producer Hal Wallis as a screenwriter and script-doctor, and her work for Wallis included the Oscar-nominated Love Letters and You Came Along, along with research for a screenplay based on the development of the atomic bomb.[42] This role gave Rand time to work on other projects, including the publication of her first work of nonfiction, an essay titled "The Only Path to Tomorrow", in the January 1944 edition of Reader's Digest magazine.[43] Rand also outlined and took extensive notes for a nonfiction treatment of her philosophy, although the planned book was never completed.[44]

While working in Hollywood, Rand extended her involvement with free-market and anti-Communist activism. She and her husband purchased a house designed by modernist Richard Neutra and an adjoining ranch. There, Rand entertained figures such as Hazlitt, Morrie Ryskind, Albert Mannheimer and Leonard Read. A visit by Paterson to meet with some of Rand's California associates led to a final falling out between the two when Paterson made a number of comments that Rand saw as rude to valued political allies, and also revealed that she had refused to do a review of The Fountainhead for the newspaper she worked for.[45] Despite their break, Rand continued to promote Paterson's The God of the Machine for many years.[46] While in California, Rand also became involved with the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, a Hollywood anti-Communist group, and wrote articles on the group's behalf.[47]

In 1947, during the Second Red Scare, Rand testified as a "friendly witness" before the United States House Un-American Activities Committee. Her testimony described the disparity between her personal experiences in the Soviet Union and the portrayal of it in the 1944 film Song of Russia.[48] Rand argued that the film grossly misrepresented the socioeconomic conditions in the Soviet Union and portrayed life in the USSR as being much better and happier than it actually was.[49] When asked about her feelings on the effectiveness of the investigations after the hearings, Rand described the process as "futile".[50]

After several delays, the movie version of The Fountainhead was released in 1949. Although it used Rand's screenplay with minimal alterations, she "disliked the movie from beginning to end," complaining about its editing, acting and other elements.[51]

Atlas Shrugged and later years

After the publication of The Fountainhead, Rand received numerous letters from readers, some of whom it had profoundly influenced. In 1951 Rand moved from Los Angeles to New York City, where she gathered a group of these admirers around her. This group (jokingly designated "The Collective") included future Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, a young psychology student named Nathan Blumenthal (later Nathaniel Branden) and his wife Barbara, and Barbara's cousin Leonard Peikoff. At first the group was an informal gathering of friends who met with Rand on weekends at her apartment to discuss philosophy. Later she began allowing them to read the drafts of her new novel, Atlas Shrugged, as the manuscript pages were written. In 1954 Rand's close relationship with the much younger Nathaniel Branden turned into a romantic affair, with the consent of their spouses.[52]

Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957, was Rand's magnum opus.[53] The theme of the novel is "the role of the mind in man's existence—and, as a corollary, the demonstration of her moral philosophy: the morality of rational self-interest."[54] It advocates the core tenets of Rand's philosophy of Objectivism and expresses her concept of human achievement. The plot involves a dystopian United States in which the most creative industrialists, scientists and artists go on strike and retreat to a mountainous hideaway where they build an independent free economy. The novel's hero and leader of the strike, John Galt, describes the strike as "stopping the motor of the world" by withdrawing the minds of the individuals most contributing to the nation's wealth and achievement. With this fictional strike, Rand intended to illustrate that without the efforts of the rational and productive, the economy would collapse and society would fall apart. The novel includes elements of mystery and science fiction,[55] and contains Rand's most extensive statement of Objectivism in any of her works of fiction, a lengthy monologue delivered by Galt. Atlas Shrugged became an international bestseller. Rand's last work of fiction, it marked a turning point in her life, ending her career as novelist and beginning her tenure as a popular philosopher.[56]

In 1958 Nathaniel Branden established Nathaniel Branden Lectures, later incorporated as the Nathaniel Branden Institute (NBI), to promote Rand's philosophy. Collective members gave lectures for NBI and wrote articles for Objectivist periodicals that she edited. Rand later published some of these articles in book form. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Rand developed and promoted her Objectivist philosophy through her nonfiction works and by giving talks, for example at Yale University, Princeton University, Columbia University,[57] Harvard University and MIT.[58] She received an honorary doctorate from Lewis & Clark College in 1963.[59] For many years, she gave also an annual lecture at the Ford Hall Forum, responding afterwards in her famously spirited form to questions from the audience.[60] In 1964 Nathaniel Branden began an affair with the young actress Patrecia Scott, whom he later married. Nathaniel and Barbara Branden hid the affair from Rand. Though her romantic relationship with Branden had already ended,[61] Rand terminated her relationship with both Brandens in 1968 when she discovered Nathaniel Branden's affair with Patrecia Scott and his and Barbara Branden's role in concealing it, and as a result, NBI closed.[62] She published an article in The Objectivist repudiating Nathaniel Branden for dishonesty and other "irrational behavior in his private life."[63]

Rand underwent surgery for lung cancer in 1974. Several more of her closest associates parted company with her,[64] and during the late 1970s her activities within the Objectivist movement declined, especially after the death of her husband on November 9, 1979.[65] One of her final projects was work on a television adaptation of Atlas Shrugged. She had also planned to write another novel, but did not get far in her notes.[66] Rand died of heart failure on March 6, 1982 at her home in New York City,[67] and was interred in the Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, New York. Rand's funeral was attended by some of her prominent followers, including Alan Greenspan. A six-foot floral arrangement in the shape of a dollar sign was placed near her casket.[68] In her will, Rand named Leonard Peikoff the heir to her estate. With her endorsement of his 1976 lecture series, she had recognized his work as being the best exposition of her philosophy.[69]


Rand saw her views as constituting an integrated philosophical system, which she called "Objectivism." Its 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."[70] Objectivism has been described pejoratively as "pseudophilosophy".[71]

Rejecting faith as antithetical to reason, Rand embraced philosophical realism and opposed all forms of mysticism or supernaturalism, including organized religion.[72] Rand also argued for rational egoism (rational self-interest), as the only proper guiding moral principle. The individual "must exist for his own sake," she wrote in 1962, "neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself."[73]

Rand held that the only moral social system is laissez-faire capitalism. Her political views were strongly individualist and hence anti-statist and anti-Communist. Rand detested many liberal and conservative politicians of her time, including prominent anti-Communists.[74][75] She rejected the libertarian movement, although Jim Powell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, considers Rand one of the three most important women (along with Rose Wilder Lane and Isabel Paterson) of modern American libertarianism.[76] Rand rejected anarcho-capitalism as "a contradiction in terms", a point on which she has been criticized by self-avowed anarchist Objectivists such as Roy Childs.[77] Philosopher Chandran Kukathas said her "unremitting hostility towards the state and taxation sits inconsistently with a rejection of anarchism, and her attempts to resolve the difficulty are ill-thought out and unsystematic."[78]

She acknowledged Aristotle as a great influence,[79] and found early inspiration in Friedrich Nietzsche,[80] although she rejected what she considered his anti-reason stance. Philosophers Ronald E. Merrill and David Steele point out a difference between her early and later views on the subject of sacrificing others.[81][82] For example, the first edition of We the Living contained language which has been interpreted as advocating ruthless elitism: "What are your masses but mud to be ground underfoot, fuel to be burned for those who deserve it?"[81]

She remarked that in the history of philosophy she could only recommend "three A's"—Aristotle, Aquinas, and Ayn Rand.[16] Among the philosophers Rand held in particular disdain was Immanuel Kant, whom she referred to as a "monster" and "the most evil man in history".[83] Rand was strongly opposed to the view that reason is unable to know reality "as it is in itself", which she ascribed to Kant.[83] She considered her philosophy to be the "exact opposite" of Kant's on "every fundamental issue".[83] Objectivist philosophers George Walsh[84] and Fred Seddon[85] both argue that Rand misinterpreted Kant. In particular, Walsh argues that both philosophers adhere to many of the same basic positions, and that Rand exaggerated her differences with Kant. Walsh says that for many critics, Rand's writing on Kant is "ignorant and unworthy of discussion".[84]

Rand scholars Douglas Den Uyl and Douglas Rasmussen, while stressing the importance and originality of her thought, describe her style as "literary, hyperbolic and emotional."[86] Similarly, philosopher Jack Wheeler says that despite "the incessant bombast and continuous venting of Randian rage," Rand's ethics is "a most immense achievement, the study of which is vastly more fruitful than any other in contemporary thought."[87] In 1976, she said that her most important contributions to philosophy were her "theory of concepts, [her] ethics, and [her] discovery in politics that evil—the violation of rights—consists of the initiation of force."[88]

Literary reception

Rand's novels, when they were first published, were derided by some critics as long and melodramatic,[89] and became bestsellers largely due to word of mouth.[90] The first reviews Rand received were for her play Night of January 16. Reviews of the Broadway production were mixed, and Rand considered even the positive reviews to be embarrassing because of significant changes made to her script by the producer.[91] Rand herself described her first novel, We the Living, as not being widely reviewed, but Michael S. Berliner says "it was the most reviewed of any of her works," with approximately 125 different reviews being published in more than 200 publications. Many of these reviews were more positive than the reviews she received for her later work.[92] Her 1938 novella Anthem received little attention from reviewers, both for its first publication in England and for several subsequent re-issues.[93]

Rand's first bestseller, The Fountainhead, received far fewer reviews than We the Living, and reviewers' opinions were mixed.[94] There was a positive review in The New York Times that Rand greatly appreciated.[95] The Times reviewer called Rand "a writer of great power" who writes "brilliantly, beautifully and bitterly," and it stated that she had "written a hymn in praise of the individual... you will not be able to read this masterful book without thinking through some of the basic concepts of our time."[96] There were other positive reviews, but Rand dismissed many of them as either not understanding her message or as being from unimportant publications.[94] A number of negative reviews focused on the length of the novel,[89] such as one that called it "a whale of a book" and another that said "anyone who is taken in by it deserves a stern lecture on paper-rationing." Other negative reviews called the characters unsympathetic and Rand's style "offensively pedestrian."[94]

Rand's 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged was widely reviewed, and many of the reviews were strongly negative.[89][97] In the National Review, conservative author Whittaker Chambers called the book "sophomoric" and "remarkably silly". He described the tone of the book as "shrillness without reprieve" and accused Rand of supporting the same godless system as the Soviets, claiming "From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: 'To a gas chamber—go!'"[98] Atlas Shrugged received positive reviews from a few publications,[97] but as Rand scholar Mimi Reisel Gladstein later described them, many reviewers "seemed to vie with each other in a contest to devise the cleverest put-downs," calling it "execrable claptrap" and "a nightmare;" they said it was "written out of hate" and showed "remorseless hectoring and prolixity."[89]

During Rand's lifetime her work received little attention from academic scholars.[99] When With Charity Toward None: An Analysis of Ayn Rand's Philosophy, the first academic book about Rand's philosophy, appeared in 1971, its author William F. O'Neill declared writing about Rand "a treacherous undertaking" that could lead to "guilt by association" for taking her seriously.[100] A few articles about Rand's ideas appeared in academic journals prior to her death in 1982, many of them in The Personalist.[101] Academic consideration of Rand as a literary figure during her life was even more limited. Gladstein was unable to find any scholarly articles about Rand's novels when she began researching her in 1973, and only three such articles appeared during the rest of the 1970s.[102]


An engraving in all capital letters that reads: "Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision." Ayn Rand
A quote from Rand's book The Fountainhead, on the wall directly across from the entrance to The American Adventure rotunda at Walt Disney World's Epcot Center

Rand's books continue to be widely sold and read, with 25 million copies sold as of 2007, and 800,000 more being sold each year according to the Ayn Rand Institute.[103] She has also influenced notable people in different fields. Examples include philosophers John Hospers, George H. Smith, Allan Gotthelf, Robert Mayhew and Tara Smith, economists Alan Greenspan, George Reisman and Murray Rothbard, psychologist Edwin A. Locke, historian Robert Hessen, and political writer Charles Murray. United States Congressmen Ron Paul[104] and Bob Barr,[105] and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Clarence Thomas[106] have acknowledged her influence on their lives, and former United States President Ronald Reagan described himself as an "admirer" of Rand in private correspondence in the 1960s.[107]

Popular interest and influence

When a 1991 survey by the Library of Congress and the Book-of-the-Month Club asked what the most influential book in the respondent's life was, Rand's Atlas Shrugged was the second most popular choice, after the Bible.[108] Readers polled in 1998 and 1999 by Modern Library placed four of her books on the 100 Best Novels list, with Atlas Shrugged taking the top position, while another, The Virtue of Selfishness, topped the 100 Best Nonfiction list. Books by other authors about Rand and her philosophy also appeared on the nonfiction list.[109] The validity of such lists has been disputed.[110] Freestar Media/Zogby polls conducted in 2007 found that around 8 percent of American adults have read Atlas Shrugged.[111]

Rand has been cited by numerous writers, artists and commentators as an influence on their lives and thought. Rand or characters based on her figure prominently in novels by such authors as William F. Buckley, Mary Gaitskill, Matt Ruff, J. Neil Schulman, and Kay Nolte Smith.[112] Other authors and artists, such as Steve Ditko,[113] Terry Goodkind,[114] and Neil Peart,[115] have also cited her as an influence.

Rand and her works have been referred to in a variety of media. Radio personality Rush Limbaugh makes frequent positive reference to Rand's work on his program.[116] References to her have appeared on a variety of television shows, including animated sitcoms, live-action comedies, dramas, and game shows.[117] The Philosophical Lexicon, a satirical web site maintained by philosophers Daniel Dennett and Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen, defines a 'rand' as: "An angry tirade occasioned by mistaking philosophical disagreement for a personal attack and/or evidence of unspeakable moral corruption."[118] Her image appears on a U.S. postage stamp designed by artist Nick Gaetano.[119] The BioShock video game series includes elements inspired by Rand's ideas.[120]

Two movies have been made about Rand's life. A 1997 documentary film, Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.[121] The Passion of Ayn Rand, an independent film about her life, was made in 1999, starring Helen Mirren as Rand and Peter Fonda as her husband. The film was based on the book of the same name by Barbara Branden, and won several awards.[122][123] Several attempts have been made to produce a film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged, but none have been successful.[124]

Although Rand's influence has been greatest in the United States, there has been international interest in her work.[125][126][127] Her books were international best sellers, and continue to sell in large numbers in the 21st century.[128]


Since Rand's death in 1982, interest in her work has gradually increased.[129][130][131] Historian Jennifer Burns has identified "three overlapping waves" of scholarly interest in Rand, the most recent of which is "an explosion of scholarship" in the 2000s.[132] However, few universities currently include Rand or Objectivism as a philosophical specialty or research area, with many literature and philosophy departments dismissing her as a pop culture phenomenon rather than a subject for serious study.[133]

Some academic philosophers have criticized Rand for what they consider her lack of rigor and limited understanding of philosophical subject matter.[99][134] Many in the Continental tradition think her celebration of self-interest relies on sophistic logic, and as a result have not thought her work worth any serious consideration.[135] Chris Sciabarra has called into question the motives of some of Rand's critics on account because of what he calls the unusual hostility of their criticisms.[136] Sciabarra says, "The left was infuriated by her anti-communist, procapitalist politics, whereas the right was disgusted with her atheism and civil libertarianism."[99]

Writers on Rand such as Sciabarra, Allan Gotthelf, and Tara Smith have made attempts to teach her work in academic institutions. Sciabarra co-edits the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, a nonpartisan peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the study of Rand's philosophical and literary work.[137] In 1987 Gotthelf helped found the Ayn Rand Society, which is affiliated with the American Philosophical Association and has been active in sponsoring seminars and distributing videotaped lecture courses on Ayn Rand.[138] Smith has written several academic books and papers on Rand's ideas, including Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist. Rand's ideas have also been made subjects of study at Clemson and Duke universities.[139] Scholars of English and American literature have largely ignored her work, although attention to her literary work has increased since the 1990s.[140] In the Literary Encyclopedia entry for Rand written in 2001, John Lewis declared that "Rand wrote the most intellectually challenging fiction of her generation".[141] In a 1999 interview in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Rand scholar Chris Matthew Sciabarra commented, "I know they laugh at Rand," while forecasting a growth of interest in her work in the academic community.[142]


In 1985 Leonard Peikoff established the Ayn Rand Institute, which "works to introduce young people to Ayn Rand's novels, to support scholarship and research based on her ideas, and to promote the principles of reason, rational self-interest, individual rights and laissez-faire capitalism to the widest possible audience."[143] In 1990 David Kelley founded the Institute for Objectivist Studies,[144] now known as The Atlas Society. Its focus is on attracting readers of Rand's fiction; the associated Objectivist Center deals with more academic ventures.[145] In 2001 historian John McCaskey organized the Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship, which provides grants for scholarly work on Objectivism in academia.[146] The foundation has supported research at the University of Texas at Austin,[147] the University of Pittsburgh, Duke University and a number of other schools.[148]


  1. ^ 秋风、刘军宁和王建勋谈安.兰德和阿特拉斯耸耸肩, Jiuding.org
  2. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions About Ayn Rand: How do you pronounce 'Ayn'?". Ayn Rand Institute. http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_ayn_rand_faq_index2#ar_q3. Retrieved 2010-02-06. 
  3. ^ The following sources identify Rand as a philosopher:
    • Saxon, Wolfgang (March 7, 1982). "Ayn Rand, ‘Fountainhead’ Author, Dies". The New York Times: p. 36. http://www.nytimes.com/1982/03/07/obituaries/07randobit.html?&pagewanted=all. "Ayn Rand, the writer and philosopher of objectivism who espoused 'rational selfishness' and capitalism unbound, died yesterday morning at her home on East 34th Street." 
    • Den Uyl, Douglas J. & Rasmussen, Douglas B. "Preface." in Den Uyl & Rasmussen 1986, p. x. "... this book is devoted to an assessment of Ayn Rand the philosopher. All the contributors to this volume agree that she is a philosopher and not a mere popularizer. Moreover, all agree that many of her insights on philosophy and her own philosophic ideas deserve critical attention by professional philosophers, whatever the final merit of those inquiries and theories. It is appropriate, therefore, that all our contributors are themselves professional philosophers."
    • Sciabarra 1995, p. 1. "Ayn Rand is one of the most widely read philosophers of the twentieth century."
    • Kukathas, Chandran (1998). "Rand, Ayn (1905–82)". in Craig, Edward. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. New York: Routledge. pp. 55–56. ISBN 0-415-07310-3. "Ayn Rand was a Russian-born novelist and philosopher who exerted considerable influence in the conservative and libertarian intellectual movements in the post-war USA." 
  4. ^ Rand, Ayn (January 1944). "The Only Path to Tomorrow". Reader's Digest 44 (261): 88. http://fare.tunes.org/liberty/library/toptt.html. 
  5. ^ Rand, Ayn (1964). "Racism". The Virtue of Selfishness. New York: Penguin. p. 149. ISBN 0-451-16393-1. 
  6. ^ Rand, Ayn (1967). ""Extremism," or The Art of Smearing". Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. New York: Signet. p. 180. ISBN 0-451-14795-2. OCLC 24916193. 
  7. ^ Rand, Ayn (1964). "Introduction". The Virtue of Selfishness. New York: Signet. p. ix. ISBN 0-451-16393-1. 
  8. ^ Rand, Ayn (1999). "The Left: Old and New". Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution. Edited by Peter Schwartz. New York: Meridian. p. 62. ISBN 0-452-01184-1. 
  9. ^ Rand, Ayn (September 1971). "Brief Summary". The Objectivist 10 (9): 1. 
  10. ^ Heller 2009, pp. 3–5; Britting 2004, pp. 2–3
  11. ^ Branden 1986, pp. 35–39
  12. ^ Britting 2004, pp. 14–20
  13. ^ a b c Sciabarra, Chris Matthew (Fall 1999). "The Rand Transcript"". The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 1 (1): 1–26. http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/essays/randt2.htm. 
  14. ^ Peikoff 1991, pp. 451–460
  15. ^ Britting 2004, pp. 17–18, 22-24
  16. ^ a b Sciabarra 1995, p. 12
  17. ^ Britting 2004, pp. 17, 22
  18. ^ Heller 2009, p. 47; Britting 2004, p. 24
  19. ^ Berliner, Michael S., ed (1999). "Introduction". Russian Writings on Hollywood. Ayn Rand, trans. by Dina Garmong. Los Angeles: Ayn Rand Institute Press. p. 10. ISBN 0-9625336-3-7. 
  20. ^ Heller 2009, pp. 50–53; Britting 2004, p. 30
  21. ^ Britting 2004, p. 33
  22. ^ "What is the origin of “Rand”?". Ayn Rand Institute. http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=faq_index#ar_q3b. Retrieved 2009-07-25. 
  23. ^ Rand said the origin of Ayn was Finnish (Rand 1995, p. 40), but some biographical sources question this, suggesting it may come from a Hebrew nickname. Heller 2009, pp. 55–57 provides a detailed discussion.
  24. ^ Britting 2004, pp. 34–36.
  25. ^ Britting 2004, pp. 35–40; Paxton 1998, pp. 74, 81, 84.
  26. ^ Heller 2009, pp. 96–98; Britting 2004, pp. 43–44, 52
  27. ^ Berliner, Michael S. (1999). "Ayn Rand's first published work found". Archives Annual (Ayn Rand Institute) 2.  Originally published in the Institute's Impact newsletter, March 1996.
  28. ^ Britting 2004, pp. 40, 42.
  29. ^ Rand 1971, pp. 3–11
  30. ^ Johnson, Donald Leslie (2005). The Fountainheads: Wright, Rand, the FBI and Hollywood. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. pp. 55–56. ISBN 0-7864-1958-X.  cf. Rand 1971, pp. 13–14
  31. ^ Rand, Ayn (1995) [1936]. "Foreword". We The Living (60th Anniversary ed.). New York: Dutton. p. xviii. ISBN 0-525-94054-5. 
  32. ^ Paxton 1998, p. 104
  33. ^ Britting 2004, p. 57
  34. ^ Branden 1986, pp. 188–189
  35. ^ Burns 2009, pp. 75–78
  36. ^ Britting 2004, pp. 61–78
  37. ^ Britting 2004, pp. 58–61
  38. ^ Burns 2009, p. 85
  39. ^ Burns 2009, p. 89
  40. ^ Burns 2009, p. 178; Heller, pp. 304–305
  41. ^ According to the Ayn Rand Institute, by April 2008 the novel had sold over 6.5 million copies. "Sales of Ayn Rand Books Reach 25 million Copies". Ayn Rand Institute. April 7, 2008. http://www.aynrand.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=17345&news_iv_ctrl=1221. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  42. ^ Britting 2004, pp. 68–80; Branden 1986, pp. 183–198
  43. ^ Reprinted in Rand, Ayn (1991). Schwartz, Peter. ed. The Ayn Rand Column. Oceanside, California: Second Renaissance Books. pp. 105–108. ISBN 1-56114-099-6. 
  44. ^ Rand 1997, pp. 243–310
  45. ^ Burns 2009, pp. 130–131; Heller 2009, pp. 214–215; Rand 1997, p. 131
  46. ^ Heller 2009, p. 217
  47. ^ Burns 2009, pp. 100, 123
  48. ^ Mayhew 2005, pp. 91–93
  49. ^ "Ayn Rand's HUAC Testimony" in Mayhew 2005, pp. 188–189
  50. ^ Mayhew 2005, p. 83
  51. ^ Britting 2004, p. 71
  52. ^ Branden 1986, pp. 256–264, 331–343
  53. ^ Rand 1997, p. 704 "Atlas Shrugged was the climax and completion of the goal I had set for myself at the age of nine. It expressed everything that I wanted of fiction writing."
  54. ^ Rand, Ayn (1961). For the New Intellectual. New York: Random House. 
  55. ^ Gladstein 1999, p. 42
  56. ^ Younkins, Edward (2007). "Preface". Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Aldershot: Ashgate. p. 1. ISBN 0-7546-5549-0. "Atlas Shrugged ... is the demarcation work and turning point that culminated [Rand's] career as a novelist and propelled her into a career as a popular philosopher" .
  57. ^ Branden 1986, pp. 315–316
  58. ^ Gladstein 1999, p. 14
  59. ^ Branden 1986, p. 318
  60. ^ Gladstein 1999, p. 16
  61. ^ Britting 2004, p. 101.
  62. ^ Branden 1986, pp. 344–358
  63. ^ Rand, Ayn (May 1968). "To Whom It May Concern". The Objectivist (New York) 7 (5): 1–8. 
  64. ^ Branden 1986, pp. 386–389
  65. ^ Branden 1986, pp. 392–395
  66. ^ Rand 1997, p. 697
  67. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (March 7, 1982). "Ayn Rand, ‘Fountainhead’ Author, Dies". The New York Times: p. 36. http://www.nytimes.com/1982/03/07/obituaries/07randobit.html?&pagewanted=all. 
  68. ^ Branden 1986, p. 403
  69. ^ Peikoff 1991, pp. xiii-xv
  70. ^ "About the Author" in Rand 1992, pp. 1170–1171.
  71. ^ Clark, Leslie. "The philosophical art of looking out number one". Sunday Herald. http://www.sundayherald.com/arts/arts/display.var.1200721.0.the_philosophical_art_of_looking_out_number_one.php. Retrieved 2007-04-30. 
  72. ^ Den Uyl, Douglas J. & Rasmussen, Douglas B. "Ayn Rand's Realism" in Den Uyl & Rasmussen 1986, pp. 3–20
  73. ^ Rand, Ayn (1989). "Introducing Objectivism". The Voice of Reason. Edited by Leonard Peikoff. New York: New American Library. p. 3. ISBN 0-453-00634-5.  This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times on June 17, 1962.
  74. ^ Toffler, Alivin (March 1964). "Playboy Interview: Ayn Rand". Playboy. http://www.playboy.com/articles/ayn-rand-playboy-interview/index.html. "I'm opposed to any compromiser or me-tooer, and Mr. Nixon is probably the champion in this regard." 
  75. ^ Dowd, Maureen (September 13, 1982). "Where 'Atlas Shrugged' Is Still Read - Forthrightly". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1987/09/13/weekinreview/where-atlas-shrugged-is-still-read-forthrightly.html?pagewanted=all. Retrieved 2009-08-01. "Miss Rand was vehemently anti-Reagan when he challenged Gerald Ford in 1976, and her disciples never saw much sign that she softened toward him over the years." 
  76. ^ Powell, Jim (May 1996). "Rose Wilder Lane, Isabel Paterson, and Ayn Rand: Three Women Who Inspired the Modern Libertarian Movement". The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty 46 (5). http://www.fee.org/publications/the-freeman/article.asp?aid=3345. 
  77. ^ Thomas, William R. (2008). "Objectivism against Anarchy". in Machan, Tibor & Long, Roderick. Anarchism/Minarchism. Aldershot: Ashgate. pp. 39–57. ISBN 0-7546-6066-4. 
  78. ^ Kukathas, Chandran (1998). "Rand, Ayn (1905–82)". in Craig, Edward. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. New York: Routledge. pp. 55–56. ISBN 0-415-07310-3. 
  79. ^ "About the Author" in Rand 1992, p. 1171.
  80. ^ Sciabarra 1995, p. 100–106
  81. ^ a b Merrill, Ronald E. (1991). The Ideas of Ayn Rand. La Salle, Illinois: Open Court Publishing. pp. 38–39. ISBN 0-8126-9157-1. 
  82. ^ Steele, David Ramsay (1987). "Alice in Wonderland". Free Life: Journal of the Libertarian Alliance 5 (1). http://www.la-articles.org.uk/alice.htm. 
  83. ^ a b c Rand, Ayn (September 1971). "Brief Summary". The Objectivist 10 (9): 4. 
  84. ^ a b Walsh, George V. (Fall 2000). "Ayn Rand and the Metaphysics of Kant". The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 2 (1): 69–103. http://enlightenment.supersaturated.com/objectivity/walsh1/. 
  85. ^ Seddon, Fred (2003). Ayn Rand, Objectivists, and the History of Philosophy. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America. pp. 63–81. ISBN 0-7618-2308-5. 
  86. ^ Den Uyl, Douglas; Rasmussen, Douglas (April 1978). "Nozick On the Randian Argument". The Personalist 59: 203. 
  87. ^ Wheeler, Jack. "Rand and Aristotle." in Den Uyl & Rasmussen 1986, p. 96.
  88. ^ Rand, Ayn (2005). Mayhew, Robert. ed. Ayn Rand Answers, the Best of Her Q&A. New York: New American Library. p. 166. ISBN 0-451-21665-2. 
  89. ^ a b c d Gladstein 1999, pp. 117–119.
  90. ^ Paxton 1998, p. 120; Britting 2004, p. 87.
  91. ^ Branden 1986, pp. 122–124
  92. ^ Berliner, Michael S. (2004). "Reviews of We the Living". in Mayhew, Robert. Essays on Ayn Rand's We the Living. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. pp. 147–151. ISBN 0-7391-0698-8. 
  93. ^ Berliner, Michael S. (2005). "Reviews of Anthem". in Mayhew, Robert. Essays on Ayn Rand's Anthem. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. pp. 55–60. ISBN 0-7391-1031-4. 
  94. ^ a b c Berliner, Michael S. (2006). "The Fountainhead Reviews". in Mayhew, Robert. Essays on Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. pp. 77–82. ISBN 0-7391-1578-2. 
  95. ^ Rand 1995, p. 74
  96. ^ Pruette, Lorine (May 16, 1943). "Battle Against Evil". The New York Times: p. BR7. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20610FD3D5C167B93C4A8178ED85F478485F9. 
  97. ^ a b Berliner, Michael S. (2009). "The Atlas Shrugged Reviews". in Mayhew, Robert. Essays on Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. pp. 133–137. ISBN 978-0-7391-2780-3. 
  98. ^ Chambers, Whittaker (December 8, 1957). "Big Sister is Watching You". National Review: 594–596. http://www.nationalreview.com/flashback/flashback200501050715.asp. 
  99. ^ a b c Sciabarra 1995, p. 1
  100. ^ O'Neill, William F. (1977) [1971]. With Charity Toward None: An Analysis of Ayn Rand's Philosophy. New York: Littlefield, Adams & Company. p. 3. ISBN 0-8226-0179-6. 
  101. ^ Gladstein 1999, p. 115. The best-known example of an academic article about Rand in the 1970s is Nozick, Robert (Spring 1971). "On the Randian Argument". The Personalist 52: 282–304.  Responses to Nozick also appeared, including: Machan, Tibor (April 1977). "Nozick and Rand on Property Rights". The Personalist 58: 192–195.  and Den Uyl, Douglas; Rasmussen, Douglas (April 1978). "Nozick On the Randian Argument". The Personalist 59: 184–205. 
  102. ^ Gladstein 2005, pp. 57–58, 63. The articles identified by Gladstein are: Gordon, Philip (Autumn 1977). "The Extroflective Hero: A Look at Ayn Rand". Journal of Popular Culture 10 (4): 701–710. ; McGann, Kevin (1978). "Ayn Rand in the Stockyard of the Spirit". in Peary, Gerald & Shatzkin, Roger (eds). The Modern American Novel and the Movies. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing. ISBN 0-8044-2682-1. ; and her own article, Gladstein, Mimi R. (February 1978). "Ayn Rand and Feminism: An Unlikely Alliance". College English 39 (6): 25–30. 
  103. ^ "Sales of Ayn Rand Books Reach 25 million Copies". Ayn Rand Institute. April 7, 2008. http://www.aynrand.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=17345&news_iv_ctrl=1221. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  104. ^ Ron Paul discusses Ayn Rand. YouTube. September 29, 2007. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjwuGHPilwI. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  105. ^ Weigel, David (November 2008). "Bob Barr Talks". Reason 40 (6): 30–31. http://www.reason.com/news/show/129221.html. 
  106. ^ Thomas, Clarence (2007). My Grandfather's Son: A Memoir. New York: Harper Perennial. pp. 62, 187. ISBN 0-06-056556-X. ; and 60 Minutes, "Interview with Clarence Thomas," 30 September 2007.
  107. ^ Reagan, Ronald (2003). Skinner, Kiron K.; Anderson, Annelise & Anderson, Martin. eds. Reagan: A Life in Letters. New York: Free Press. pp. 281–282. ISBN 0-7432-1966-X. 
  108. ^ Fein, Esther B (November 20, 1991). "Book Notes". The New York Times: p. C26. http://www.nytimes.com/1991/11/20/books/book-notes-059091.html?sec=health. 
  109. ^ "100 Best". New York: Random House. http://www.randomhouse.com/modernlibrary/100best.html. Retrieved 2009-06-02. 
  110. ^ "Literature and Millennial Lists". eNotes.com. http://www.enotes.com/contemporary-literary-criticism/literature-millennial-lists. Retrieved 2009-08-02. 
  111. ^ "Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand Read by 8.1%". Freestar Media. October 17, 2007. http://www.freestarmedia.com/randpoll2007.html. Retrieved 2009-06-02. 
  112. ^ Sciabarra 2004, p. 3
  113. ^ Sciabarra 2004, pp. 8–11
  114. ^ Perry, William E. (2006-05-17). "The Randian Fantasies of Terry Goodkind". The Atlas Society. http://www.objectivistcenter.org/ct-1695-Goodkind.aspx. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  115. ^ Sciabarra, Chris Matthew (Fall 2002). "Rand, Rush, and Rock". The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 4 (1): 161–185. http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/essays/rush.htm. 
  116. ^ Brook, Yaron (March 15, 2009). "Is Rand Relevant?". Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123698976776126461.html. Retrieved 2009-06-02. 
  117. ^ Sciabarra 2004, pp. 4–5
  118. ^ Dennett, Daniel; Steglich-Petersen, Asbjørn (2008). "The Philosophical Lexicon: R". http://www.philosophicallexicon.com/#R. Retrieved 2009-08-02. 
  119. ^ "Ayn Rand U.S. Postage Stamp Ceremony". The Objectivist Center. http://www.objectivistcenter.org/events/others/others-ayn-rand-stamp.asp. Retrieved 2009-06-02. 
  120. ^ Cowen, Nick (13 January 2010). "BioShock 2 developer interview". The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/video-games/6980675/BioShock-2-developer-interview.html. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  121. ^ "Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life - Awards". The New York Times. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/158804/Ayn-Rand-A-Sense-of-Life/awards. Retrieved 2009-08-02. 
  122. ^ Elber, Lynn (September 13, 1999). "'Ally,' 'Practice' grab top honors at Emmy awards". Ventura County Star. Associated Press: p. A01. 
  123. ^ Tourtellotte, Bob (January 24, 2000). "Family dramas top Golden Globe Awards". The Seattle Times. Reuters: p. E1. 
  124. ^ Britting, Jeff (2009). "Bringing Atlas Shrugged to Film". in Mayhew, Robert. Essays on Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. p. 195. ISBN 978-0-7391-2779-7. 
  125. ^ Gladstein 2005, p. 66-67
  126. ^ Delbroy, Bibek (2006). "Ayn Rand — The Indian Connection". in Machan, Tibor R.. Ayn Rand at 100. New Delhi, India: Pragun Publications. pp. 2–4. ISBN 81-89645-57-9. 
  127. ^ Cohen, David (December 7, 2001). "A growing concern". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2001/dec/07/internationaleducationnews.highereducation. 
  128. ^ Boaz, David (February 2, 2005). "Ayn Rand at 100". Cato Institute. http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=3661. Retrieved 2009-06-02. 
  129. ^ Gladstein 2009, pp. 114–122
  130. ^ Salmieri, Gregory & Gotthelf, Allan (2005). "Rand, Ayn (1905-82)". in Shook, John R.. The Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers. London: Thoemmes Continuum. p. 1995. ISBN 1-84371-037-4. 
  131. ^ McLemee, Scott (September 1999). "The Heirs Of Ayn Rand: Has Objectivism Gone Subjective?". http://linguafranca.mirror.theinfo.org/9909/rand.html. Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  132. ^ Burns 2009, pp. 295-296
  133. ^ Gladstein 2009, pp. 116
  134. ^ Kukathas, Chandran (1998). "Rand, Ayn (1905–82)". in Craig, Edward. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. New York: Routledge. pp. 55–56. ISBN 0415073103. 
  135. ^ Younkins, Edward W. (2005). Philosophers of Capitalism: Menger, Mises, Rand, and Beyond. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. p. 194. ISBN 0-7391-1076-4. 
  136. ^ Sciabarra 1995, pp. 9–14
  137. ^ "Journal of Ayn Rand Studies". http://www.aynrandstudies.com/jars/reviews.asp. Retrieved 2006-03-28. 
  138. ^ "Ayn Rand Society". http://www.aynrandsociety.org/. Retrieved 2007-10-03. 
  139. ^ Harvey, Benjamin (May 15, 2005). "Ayn Rand at 100: An 'ism' struts its stuff". Columbia News Service. http://www.rutlandherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050515/NEWS/505150346/1014. Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  140. ^ Gladstein 2005, p. 59, 65-70
  141. ^ Lewis, John David (20 October 2001). "Ayn Rand". The Literary Encyclopedia. http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=3705. Retrieved 2009-08-02. 
  142. ^ Sharlet, Jeff. ""Ayn Rand Has Finally Caught the Attention of Scholars"". Chronicle of Higher Education. http://chronicle.com/colloquy/99/rand/background.htm. Retrieved 2006-03-28. 
  143. ^ "Charity Navigator Rating - The Ayn Rand Institute". Charity Navigator. http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=8345. Retrieved 2009-06-02. 
  144. ^ Burns 2009, p. 281
  145. ^ "Our Mission and Programs". The Atlas Society. http://www.atlassociety.org/cth-11-1323-Our_Mission.aspx. Retrieved 2010-02-06. 
  146. ^ Gladstein 2009, p. 117
  147. ^ "Anthem Foundation Renews Gift for Ayn Rand Research on 50th Anniversary of "Atlas Shrugged"". University of Texas at Austin. October 1, 2007. http://www.utexas.edu/news/2007/10/01/lib_arts-2/. Retrieved 2009-05-31. 
  148. ^ "Fellowships & Other Multi-Year Gifts". Anthem Foundation. http://anthemfoundation.org/gifts-to-universities/fellowships.html. Retrieved 2010-02-06. 


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Ayn Rand (2 February 19056 March 1982) was a Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter. She is known for her best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system called Objectivism.



Atlas Shrugged

It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Atlas Shrugged. (Discuss)
  • You seek escape from pain. We seek the achievement of happiness. You exist for the sake of avoiding punishment. We exist for the sake of earning rewards. Threats will not make us function; fear is not our incentive. It is not death that we wish to avoid, but life that we wish to live.
  • One is that a man doesn't want people to know he's rich. Another is that he doesn't want them to learn how he got that way.
  • The choice--the dedication to one's highest potential--is made by accepting the fact that the noblest act you have ever performed is the act of your mind in the process of grasping that two and two make four.
  • I am, therefore I'll think
  • Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification
  • I swear by my life, and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.
  • In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.
  • Honest people are never touchy about the matter of being trusted.
  • It is not advisable, James, to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener.
  • So you think that money is the root of all evil? Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?
  • Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men's stupidity, but your talent to their reason.
  • The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it.
  • The good, say the mystics of spirit, is God, a being whose only definition is that he is beyond man's power to conceive- a definition that invalidates man's consciousness and nullifies his concepts of existence. Man's mind, say the mystics of spirit, must be subordinated to the will of God. Man's standard of value, say the mystics of spirit, is the pleasure of God, whose standards are beyond man's power of comprehension and must be accepted on faith. The purpose of man's life is to become an abject zombie who serves a purpose he does not know, for reasons he is not to question.
  • For centuries, the battle of morality was fought between those who claimed that your life belongs to God and those who claimed that it belongs to your neighbors - between those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of ghosts in heaven and those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of incompetents on earth. And no one came to say that your life belongs to you and that the good is to live it.
  • Haven't I? -- he thought. Haven't I thought of it since the first time I saw you? Haven't I thought of nothing else for two years?... He sat motionless, looking at her. He heard the words he never allowed himself to form, the words he had felt, known, yet had not faced, had hoped to destroy by never letting them be within his own mind, Now it was as sudden and shocking as if he were saying it to her…Since the first time I saw you.... Nothing but your body, that mouth of yours, and the way your eyes would look at me, if... Through every sentence I ever said to you, through every conference you thought were so safe, through the importance of all the issues we discussed... You trusted me, didn't you? To recognize greatness? To think of you as you deserved -- as if you were a man?
  • Love is our response to our highest values.
  • Through centuries of scourges and disasters, brought about by your code of morality, you have cried that your code had been broken, that the scourges were punishment for breaking it, that men were too weak and too selfish to spill all the blood it required. You damned men, you damned existence, you damned this earth, but never dared to question your code. Your victims took the blame and struggled on, with your curses as reward for their martyrdom - while you went on crying that your code was noble, but human nature was not good enough to practice it. And no one rose to ask the question: Good? - by what standard?
  • She was twelve years old when she told Eddie Willers that she would run the railroad when they grew up. She was fifteen when it occurred to her for the first time that women did not run railroads and that people might object. To hell with that, she thought---and never worried about it again.
  • Rationality is the recognition of the fact that existence exists, that nothing can alter the truth and nothing can take precedence over that act of perceiving it, which is thinking...
  • Love is the expression of one's values, the greatest reward you can earn for the moral qualities you have achieved in your character and person, the emotional price paid by one man for the joy he receives from the virtues of another.
  • Why ask useless questions? How deep is the ocean? How high is the sky? Who is John Galt?
  • I refuse to accept as guilt the fact of my own existence.
  • If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose- because it contains all the others- the fact that they were the people who created the phrase to make money. No other language or nation had ever used these words before; men had always thought of wealth as a static quantity- to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted or obtained as a favor. Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created.
  • Litigants obey the verdict of a tribunal solely on the premise that there is an objective rule of conduct, which they both accept.
  • I'm working to improve my methods, and every hour I save is an hour added to my life.
  • …guilt is a rope that wears thin...
    • Part Three / Chapter 4
  • A desire presupposes the possibility of action to achieve it; action presupposes a goal which is worth achieving.
    • Part Two / Chapter 1
  • All work is an act of philosophy.
    • Part Three / Chapter 1
  • In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it's yours.
    • Part Three / Chapter 7 This is John Galt Speaking
  • An inventor is a man who asks 'Why?' of the universe and lets nothing stand between the answer and his mind.
    • Part Three / Chapter 7 This Is John Galt Speaking
  • Existence exists—and the act of grasping that statement implies two corollary axioms: that something exists which one perceives and that one exists possessing consciousness, consciousness being the faculty of perceiving that which exists.
    • Part Three / Chapter 7 This Is John Galt Speaking
  • Force and mind are opposites; morality ends where the gun begins.
    • Part Three / Chapter 7 This Is John Galt Speaking
  • Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.
    • Part Three / Chapter 7 This Is John Galt Speaking
  • Man cannot survive except by gaining knowledge, and reason is his only means to gain it. Reason is the faculty that perceives, identifies and integrates the material provided by his senses. The task of his senses is to give him the evidence of existence, but the task of identifying it belongs to his reason, his senses tell him only that something is, but what it is must be learned by his mind.
    • Part Three / Chapter 7 This Is John Galt Speaking
  • “If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down on his shoulders—what would you tell him to do?” " To Shrug."
  • 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.
  • "Contradictions do not exist". "Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises". "You will find that one of them is wrong".
  • "Parties are intended to be celebrations, and celebrations should be only for those who have something to celebrate".

The Fountainhead

It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into The Fountainhead. (Discuss)
  • A house can have integrity, just like a person, and just as seldom.
  • Only by accepting total compulsion can we achieve total freedom.
  • People were his [Keating's] protection against people. Howard Roark had no sense of people.
  • One can't love man without hating most of the creatures who pretend to bear his name.
  • Worry is a waste of emotional reserve.
  • There is a stage of worship which makes the worshipper himself an object of reverence.
  • Every form of happiness is private. Our greatest moments are personal, self-motivated, not to be touched.
  • You know how people long to be eternal. But they die with every day that passes. When you meet them, they’re not what you met last. In any given hour, they kill some part of themselves. They change, they deny, they contradict--and they call it growth. At the end there’s nothing left, nothing unreversed or unbetrayed; as if there had never been an entity, only a succession of adjectives fading in and out on an unformed mass.
  • Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.
  • Whatever their future, at the dawn of their lives, men seek a noble vision of man's nature and of life's potential.
  • His face was closed like a safety vault; things locked in safety vaults are valuable; men did not care to feel that.
  • Show me your achievement - and the knowledge will give me courage for mine.
  • She could not have reached this white serenity except as the sum of all the colors, of all the violence she had known.
  • They talked quietly, with a feeling of companionship such as that of an old married couple; as if he had possessed her body, and the wonder of it had long since been consumed, and nothing remained but an untroubled intimacy.
  • I am a man who does not exist for others.
  • ...the person who loves everybody and feels at home everywhere is the true hater of mankind. He expects nothing of men, so no form of depravity can outrage him.
  • I have come here to say that I do not recognize anyone's right to one minute of my life.... It had to be said. The world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrificing.
  • 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.
  • Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received--hatred. The great creators--the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors--stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The first airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won.
  • A leash is only a rope with a noose on both ends.
  • To say 'I love you' one must know first how to say the 'I.'
  • I can accept anything, except what seems to be the easiest for most people: the half-way, the almost, the just-about, the in-between.
  • Anything may be betrayed, anyone may be forgiven. But not those who lack the courage of their own greatness.
  • From the wheel to the skyscraper, everything we are and everything we have comes from a single attribute of man - the function of his reasoning mind..
  • It stands to reason that where there's sacrifice, there's someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there's service, there's someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master.
  • Every Loneliness is a pinnacle


  • I am. I think. I will.
  • I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction.
  • And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. This god, this one word: 'I.'
  • Neither am I the means to any end others may wish to accomplish. I am not a tool for their use. I am not a servant of their needs. I am not a bandage for their wounds, I am not a sacrifice on their altars.
  • There is nothing to take a man's freedom away from him, save other men. To be free, a man must be free of his brothers.
  • This miracle of me is mine to own and keep, and mine to guard, and mine to use, and mine to kneel before...The fortune of my spirit is not to be blown into coins of brass and flung to the winds as alms for the poor of spirit.
  • I shall choose friends among men, but neither slaves nor masters. And I shall choose only such as please me, and them I shall love and respect, but neither command nor obey. And we shall join our hands when we wish, or walk alone when we so desire.
  • In the temple of his spirit, each man is alone.

We The Living

  • Do you believe in God, Andrei? No. Neither do I. But that's a favorite question of mine. An upside-down question, you know. What do you mean? Well, if I asked people whether they believed in life, they'd never understand what I meant. It's a bad question. It can mean so much that it really means nothing. So I ask them if they believe in God. And if they say they do—then, I know they don't believe in life. Why? Because, you see, God—whatever anyone chooses to call God—is one's highest conception of the highest possible. And whoever places his highest conception above his own possibility thinks very little of himself and his life. It's a rare gift, you know, to feel reverence for your own life and to want the best, the greatest, the highest possible, here, now, for your very own.
    • Source: We The Living Part One Chapter 9
  • There is no such thing as duty. If you know that a thing is right, you want to do it. If you don't want to do it—it isn't right. If it's right and you don't want to do it—you don't know what right is and you're not a man.
    • Source: We The Living Part One Chapter 6
  • There is only one thing that matters and that we'll remember. The rest doesn't matter. I don't care what life is to be nor what it does to us. But it won't break us. Neither you nor me. That's our only weapon. That's the only banner we can hold against all those others around us. That's all we have to know about the future.
  • The highest thing in a man is not his god. It's that in him which knows the reverence due a god. You are my highest reverence.
    • Source: We The Living Last Page
  • A moment or an eternity—did it matter? Life, undefeated, existed and could exist.

Philosophy: Who Needs It

  • I can say — not as a patriotic bromide, but with full knowledge of the necessary metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, political, and aesthetic 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 are only two means by which men can deal with one another: guns or logic. Force or persuasion. Those who know that they cannot win by means of logic, have always resorted to guns.
  • The conservatives see man as a body freely roaming the earth, building sand piles or factories—with an electronic computer inside his skull, controlled from Washington. The liberals see man as a soul freewheeling to the farthest reaches of the universe—but wearing chains from nose to toes when he crosses the street to buy a loaf of bread.

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

  • The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum. Whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those who evade the fact that there can be no compromise on basic principles.
  • In a capitalist society, all human relationships are voluntary. Men are free to cooperate or not, to deal with one another or not, as their own individual judgments, convictions and interests dictate.
  • America's abundance was created not by public sacrifices to the common good, but by the productive genius of free men who pursued their own personal interests and the making of their own private fortunes. They did not starve the people to pay for America's industrialization. They gave the people better jobs, higher wages, and cheaper goods with every new machine they invented, with every scientific discovery or technological advance- and thus the whole country was moving forward and profiting, not suffering, every step of the way.
  • Economic power is exercised by means of a positive, by offering men a reward, an incentive, a payment, a value; political power is exercised by means of a negative, by the threat of punishment, injury, imprisonment, destruction. The businessman's tool is values; the bureaucrat's tool is fear.
  • A gun is not an argument.
  • When the common good of a society is regarded as something apart from and superior to the individual good of its members, it means that the good of some men takes precedence over the good of others, with those others consigned to the status of sacrificial animals.
  • An attempt to achieve the good by force is like an attempt to provide a man with a picture gallery at the price of cutting out his eyes.
  • Businessmen are the one group that distinguishes capitalism and the American way of life from the totalitarian statism that is swallowing the rest of the world. All the other social groups- workers, farmers, professional men, scientists, soldiers- exist under dictatorships, even though they exist in chains, in terror, in misery, and in progressive self-destruction. But there is no such group as businessmen under a dictatorship. Their place is taken by armed thugs: by bureaucrats and commissars. Businessmen are the symbol of a free society- the symbol of America.
  • Every government interference in the economy consists of giving an unearned benefit, extorted by force, to some men at the expense of others.
  • Every movement that seeks to enslave a country, every dictatorship or potential dictatorship, needs some minority group as a scapegoat which it can blame for the nation's troubles and use as a justification of its own demands for dictatorial powers. In Soviet Russia, the scapegoat was the bourgeoisie; in Nazi Germany, it was the Jewish people; in America, it is the businessmen.
  • It is futile to fight against, if one does not know what one is fighting for.
  • Remember also that the smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights, cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.

The Virtue of Selfishness

  • Man is the only living species that has the power to act as his own destroyer—and that is the way he has acted through most of his history.
  • The men who attempt to survive, not by means of reason, but by means of force, are attempting to survive by the method of animals.
  • Neither life nor happiness can be achieved by the pursuit of irrational whims. Just as man is free to attempt to survive by any random means, as a parasite, a moocher or a looter, but not free to succeed at it beyond the range of the moment—so he is free to seek his happiness in any irrational fraud, any whim, any delusion, any mindless escape from reality, but not free to succeed at it beyond the range of the moment nor to escape the consequences.
  • The only proper, moral purpose of a government is to protect man’s rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence—to protect his right to his own life, to his own liberty, to his own property and to the pursuit of his own happiness. Without property rights, no other rights are possible.
  • When I say “capitalism,” I mean a full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism—with a separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.
  • Poverty, ignorance, illness and other problems of that kind are not metaphysical emergencies. By the metaphysical nature of man and of existence, man has to maintain his life by his own effort; the values he needs—such as wealth or knowledge—are not given to him automatically, as a gift of nature, but have to be discovered and achieved by his own thinking and work.
  • When one observes the nightmare of the desperate efforts made by hundreds of thousands of people struggling to escape from the socialized countries of Europe, to escape over barbed-wire fences, under machine-gun fire—one can no longer believe that socialism, in any of its forms, is motivated by benevolence and by the desire to achieve men’s welfare.
  • When you consider socialism, do not fool yourself about its nature. Remember that there is no such dichotomy as “human rights” versus “property rights.” No human rights can exist without property rights.
  • Capitalism is the only system where such men are free to function and where progress is accompanied, not by forced privations, but by a constant rise in the general level of prosperity, of consumption and of enjoyment of life.
  • Observe, in politics, that the term extremism has become a synonym of "evil," regardless of the content of the issue (the evil is not what you are extreme about, but that you are "extreme"—i.e., consistent).
  • Since only an individual man can possess rights, the expression “individual rights” is a redundancy (which one has to use for purposes of clarification in today’s intellectual chaos). But the expression “collective rights” is a contradiction in terms.
  • Man’s rights can be violated only by the use of physical force. It is only by means of physical force that one man can deprive another of his life, or enslave him, or rob him, or prevent him from pursuing his own goals, or compel him to act against his own rational judgment.
  • Any group or “collective,” large or small, is only a number of individuals. A group can have no rights other than the rights of its individual members.
  • When a man declares: "There are no blacks and whites [in morality]" he is making a psychological confession, and what he means is: "I am unwilling to be wholly good—and please don't regard me as wholly evil!"
  • Errors of knowledge are not breaches of morality; no proper moral code can demand infallibility or omniscience.
  • A genius is a genius, regardless of the number of morons who belong to the same race—and a moron is a moron, regardless of the number of geniuses who share his racial origin.
  • The skyline of New York is a monument of a splendor that no pyramids or palaces will ever equal or approach.
  • All the reasons which made the initiation of physical force evil, make the retaliatory use of physical force a moral imperative.
  • Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law.
  • The moral precept to adopt...is: Judge, and be prepared to be judged.
  • Ask yourself why totalitarian dictatorships find it necessary to pour money and effort into propaganda for their own helpless, chained, gagged slaves, who have no means of protest or defense. The answer is that even the humblest peasant or the lowest savage would rise in blind rebellion, were he to realize that he is being immolated, not to some incomprehensible noble purpose, but to plain, naked human evil.
  • The moral cannibalism of all hedonist and altruist doctrines lies in the premise that the happiness of one man necessitates the injury of another.
  • Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual).

The Voice of Reason

  • A culture is made — or destroyed — by its articulate voices.
  • Aristotle may be regarded as the cultural barometer of Western history. Whenever his influence dominated the scene, it paved the way for one of history's brilliant eras; whenever it fell, so did mankind.
  • Every coercive monopoly was created by government intervention into the economy: by special privileges, such as franchises or subsidies, which closed the entry of competitors into a given field, by legislative action.

The Ayn Rand Letter

  • Thanksgiving is a typically American holiday... The lavish meal is a symbol of the fact that abundant consumption is the result and reward of production.
  • The right to vote is a consequence, not a primary cause, of a free social system—and its value depends on the constitutional structure implementing and strictly delimiting the voters' power; unlimited majority rule is an instance of the principle of tyranny.
  • Competition is a by-product of productive work, not its goal. A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.
  • Honor is self-esteem made visible in action.

The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution

  • ...observe that in all the propaganda of the ecologists—amidst all their appeals to nature and pleas for 'harmony with nature'—there is no discussion of man's needs and the requirements of his survival. Man is treated as if he were an unnatural phenomenon. Man cannot survive in the kind of state of nature that the ecologists envision—i.e., on the level of sea urchins or polar bears...
  • There is a level of cowardice lower than that of the conformist: the fashionable non-conformist.
  • A crime is the violation of the right(s) of other men by force (or fraud). It is only the initiation of physical force against others- i.e., the recourse to violence- that can be classified as a crime in a free society (as distinguished from a civil wrong). Ideas, in a free society, are not a crime- and neither can they serve as the justification of a crime.
  • By the same principle, the government may not give special leniency to the perpetrator of a crime, on the grounds of the nature of his ideas.
  • An Asian peasant who labors through all of his waking hours, with tools created in Biblical times—a South American aborigine who is devoured by piranha in a jungle stream—an African who is bitten by the tsetse fly—an Arab whose teeth are green with decay in his mouth—these do live with their 'natural environment,' but are scarcely able to appreciate its beauty. Try to tell a Chinese mother, whose child is dying of cholera: 'Should one do everything one can? Of course not.' Try to tell a Russian housewife, who trudges miles on foot in sub-zero weather in order to spend hours standing in line at a state store dispensing food rations, that America is defiled by shopping centers, expressways and family cars.
  • Contrary to the ecologists, nature does not stand still and does not maintain the kind of equilibrium that guarantees the survival of any particular species - least of all the survival of her greatest and most fragile product: man.

The Romantic Manifesto

  • 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.
  • An artist reveals his naked soul in his work.
  • Pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent.


  • It took centuries of intellectual, philosophical development to achieve political freedom. It was a long struggle, stretching from Aristotle to John Locke to the Founding Fathers. The system they established was not based on unlimited majority but on its opposite: on individual rights, which were not to be alienated by majority vote or minority plotting. The individual was not left at the mercy of his neighbors or his leaders: the Constitutional system of checks and balances was scientifically devised to protect him from both. This was the great American achievement—and if concern for the actual welfare of other nations were our present leaders' motive, this is what we should have been teaching the world. Instead, we are deluding the ignorant and the semi-savage by telling them that no political knowledge is necessary—that our system is only a matter of subjective preference—that any prehistorical form of tribal tyranny, gang rule, and slaughter will do just as well, with our sanction and support. It is thus that we encourage the spectacle of Algerian workers marching through the streets [in the 1962 Civil War] and shouting the demand: "Work, not blood!"—without knowing what great knowledge and virtue are required to achieve it. In the same way, in 1917, the Russian peasants were demanding: "Land and Freedom!" But Lenin and Stalin is what they got. In 1933, the Germans were demanding: "Room to live!" But what they got was Hitler. In 1793, the French were shouting: "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!" What they got was Napoleon. In 1776, the Americans were proclaiming "The Rights of Man"—and, led by political philosophers, they achieved it. No revolution, no matter how justified, and no movement, no matter how popular, has ever succeeded without a political philosophy to guide it, to set its direction and goal.
    • Source: The Ayn Rand Column
  • "The people of Algiers marched through the streets of the city, in desperate protest against the new threat of civil war, shouting: 'We want peace! We want a government!' How are they to go about getting it? Through the years of civil war, they had been united, not by any political philosophy, but only by a racial issue. They were fighting, not for any program, but only against French rule. When they won their independence, they fell apart - into rival tribes and armed 'willayas' fighting one another"
    • Source: The Ayn Rand Column 'Blind Chaos'
  • The worst evil that you can do, psychologically, is to laugh at yourself. That means spitting in your own face.
    • Source: Question period following Lecture 11 of Leonard Peikoff's series "The Philosophy of Objectivism," 1976
  • What is greatness? I will answer: it is the capacity to live by the three fundamental values of John Galt: reason, purpose, self-esteem.
    • Source: Playboy Interview (March 1964)
  • “Free competition enforced by law” is a grotesque contradiction in terms.
    • Source: The Objectivist Newsletter “Antitrust: The Rule of Unreason,” The Objectivist Newsletter, Feb. 1962, 1
  • Let no man posture as an advocate of peace if he proposes or supports any social system that initiates the use of force against individual men, in any form.
    • Source: For the New Intellectual
  • 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.
    • Source: The Ayn Rand Column ‘Introducing Objectivism’
  • Even if smog were a risk to human life, we must remember that life in nature, without technology, is wholesale death.
    • Source: The Objectivist February 1971
  • 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.
    • Source: Introducing Objectivism. The Objectivist Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 8. August, 1962. p. 35.
  • I am not looking for intelligent disagreement any longer.... What I am looking for is intelligent agreement.
    • Source: conversations with the philosopher John Hospers[1]


  1. McLemee, Scott. "The Heirs of Ayn Rand: Has Objectivism Gone Subjective?" Retrieved May 26, 2006.

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[[File:|right|border|thumb|Statue of Atlas, New York City]] Ayn Rand (Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum, St Petersburg February 2, 1905 – New York City March 6, 1982) was a Russian-born American writer, screenwriter, playwright and philosopher.

She published several popular books in the United States in the mid-1900s, such as We the Living, Anthem, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Her husband was an American actor and artist, named Frank O'Connor.


Early life

Rand grew up during the Russian Revolution, in the years after World War I. She left Russia to visit relatives in Chicago in the United States when she was 21 years old. She did not want to return to live under Communism, and stayed in the US. She changed her name, partly to protect her family in Russia. Rand moved to California to become a movie writer.

Movies at the time did not have sound, and stories were pantomimed on camera. Dialogue was not important, so Rand could write simple stories while she improved her English language skills.

Rand met her husband, Frank O'Connor, on a movie set, when they both appeared as extras. When O'Connor married Rand, she could live permanently in America. She later became an American citizen. O'Connor gave up his acting career, to work full-time so Rand could write full-time. Later he retired, when Rand's work made a good income. He began painting late in his life.


Rand's first book was We the Living. It is about life in Russia during and after the revolution, and how life in the later Soviet Union destroys the dreams and hopes of its main characters, who are mostly young people.

Her second book was Anthem, which is a science fiction novella, a dystopia about a man named Equality 7-2521 who lives in a future society. There everybody is given their name by the government, and nobody can use the words "I" or "me". He escapes from this society with a partner, to live freely in a house in a hidden place.

Her stage play Woman on Trial (better known as Night of January 16th) used audience members as a jury, to decide the play's outcome (by voting the lead character guilty or not guilty) each time it was performed. Some celebrities, like Helen Keller, appeared as jury members.

Her third novel was The Fountainhead. It is about an architect, who wants to have control over his building designs, and does not like when he has to compromise his building designs. The Fountainhead became a best-seller, and was made into a movie starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal.

Her fourth novel was Atlas Shrugged. It is her longest book. It was also a best-seller. It tells a story about a worldwide economic crisis. This is caused by the best minds in business, industry, and science, and after a while all thinking people, quitting their jobs and disappearing. This is a protest against government regulations that get in the way of their work or make it harder.

The more governments get in the way, the worse conditions become, until society collapses. A new future begins when the people who disappeared return, and governments adopt laissez-faire principles, that do not try to control how businesses work, or misuse innovations.

After Atlas Shrugged she wrote non-fiction books about her Objectivist ideas. She published The Objectivist Newsletter, which then became The Objectivist magazine, with contributions by other writers. She also published The Ayn Rand Letter, a later newsletter about her ideas. Rand's views are typical libertarianconservative views. Freedom of the individual, the evils of 'large' government, the economic benefits of low taxes and 'small' government, the 'open' society: these are values which run through all her work.

Rand was a longtime tobacco smoker, and it led to later health problems. She died in 1982 of cardiovascular disease.


Rand invented a philosophy that she called Objectivism. She was against Communism, Socialism, and Collectivism, which are political systems where a community or the government of a country takes charge of distribution of that country's goods and products.

She also thought that countries should have very small governments. Ayn Rand did not think that welfare payments to poor people were a good thing, because this involves using force to take money away from others. She believed that charity (giving money away) could be a good thing if the person giving the money wanted and chose to do it, but she did not think that people should be expected or forced to give away their money.

She was also against religion, and was an atheist (did not think that there is a God).

Selected bibliography

Other fiction
  • Night of January 16th (1934)
  • Anthem (1938)

  • For the New Intellectual (1961)
  • The Virtue of Selfishness (1964)
  • Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (1966)
  • The Romantic Manifesto (1969)
  • The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution (1971)
  • Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (1979)
  • Philosophy: Who Needs It (1982)

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