Quotes by Ayn Rand
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Wikipedia Summary for Ayn Rand
Alice O'Connor (born Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum; February 2, [O.S. January 20] 1905 – March 6, 1982), known by her pen name Ayn Rand (), was a Russian-American writer and philosopher. She is known for her fiction and for developing a philosophical system she named Objectivism. Born and educated in Russia, she moved to the United States in 1926. She had a play that opened on Broadway in 1935. After two early novels that were initially unsuccessful, she achieved fame with her 1943 novel, The Fountainhead. In 1957, Rand published her best-known work, the novel Atlas Shrugged. Afterward, she turned to non-fiction to promote her philosophy, publishing her own periodicals and releasing several collections of essays until her death in 1982.
Rand advocated reason as the only means of acquiring knowledge and rejected faith and religion. She supported rational and ethical egoism and rejected altruism. In politics, she condemned the initiation of force as immoral and opposed collectivism, statism, as well as anarchism, instead supporting laissez-faire capitalism, which she defined as the system based on recognizing individual rights, including property rights. Although she was opposed to libertarianism, seeing the ideology as anarchism, she is often associated with the modern libertarian movement. In art, Rand promoted romantic realism. She was sharply critical of most philosophers and philosophical traditions known to her, except for Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas and classical liberals.
Literary critics received Rand's fiction with mixed reviews.
Although there was some growth of academic interest in her ideas in the early 2000s, academic philosophers have generally ignored or rejected her philosophy due to her polemical approach and lack of methodological rigor. The Objectivist movement attempts to spread her ideas, both to the public and in academic settings. She has been a significant influence among libertarians and American conservatives.
Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.
The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity.
A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.
In the temple of his spirit, each man is alone.
To say I love you one must first be able to say the I.
Money is the barometer of a society's virtue.
Every aspect of Western culture needs a new code of ethics -- a rational ethics -- as a precondition of rebirth.
Altruism does not mean mere kindness or generosity, but the sacrifice of the best among men to the worst, the sacrifice of virtues to flaws, of ability to incompetence, of progress to stagnation-and the subordinating of all life and of all values to the claims of anyone's suffering.
Capitalism and altruism are incompatible; they are philosophical opposites; they cannot co-exist in the same man or in the same society.
The attack on selfishness is an attack on man's self-esteem; to surrender one, is to surrender the other.
For the first time since her return, she felt pain, a violent pain, but it made her feel alive, because it was worth feeling.
A rational process is a moral process.
A rational process is a moral process. You may make an error at any step of it, with nothing to protect you but your own severity, or you may try to cheat, to fake the evidence and evade the effort of the quest -- but if devotion to truth is the hallmark of morality, then there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.
Mediocrity doesn't mean average intelligence, it means an average intelligence that resents and envies its betters.
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.
Ethics is a code of values which guide our choices and actions and determine the purpose and course of our lives.
One method of destroying a concept is by diluting its meaning. Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living.
When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion...th at in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing-you may know that your society is doomed.
Let me give you a tip on a clue to men's characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it.
There is no affirmation without the one who affirms. in this sense, everything to which you grant your love is yours.
When the law no longer protects you from the corrupt, but protects the corrupt from you, you know your nation is doomed.
Capitalism is our only moral system. All other systems take advantage of man's rights and liberties.
Since time immemorial and pre-industrial, 'greed' has been the accusation hurled at the rich by the concrete-bound illiterates who were unable to conceive of the source of wealth or of the motivation of those who produce it.
Love is an expression and assertion of self-esteem, a response to one's own values in the person of another. One gains a profoundly personal, selfish joy from the mere existence of the person one loves. It is one's own personal, selfish happiness that one seeks, earns, and derives from love.
But what is freedom? Freedom from what? 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. That is freedom. That and nothing else.
There is fear hanging in the air of the sleeping halls, and the air of the streets. Fear walks through the city, fear without name, without shape. All men feel it and none dare speak.
This miracle of me is mine to own and keep, and mine to guard, and mine to use, and mine to kneel before.
You'll get everything society can give a man. You'll keep all the money. You'll take any fame or honor anyone might want to grant. You'll accept such gratitude as the tenants might feel. And I -- I'll take what nobody can give a man, except himself. I will have built Cortlandt.
-- Howard Roark.
Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it bounces, marked: 'Account Overdrawn.'
When men reject reason, they have no means left for dealing with one another -- except brute, physical force.
Professional intellectuals are the voice of a culture and are, therefore, its leaders, its integrators and its bodyguards.
The charming aspect of Christmas is the fact that it expresses good will in a cheerful, happy, benevolent, non-sacrificial way.
The charming aspect of Christmas is the fact that it expresses good will in a cheerful, happy, benevolent, non-sacrificial way. One says: "Merry Christmas"-not "Weep and Repent." And the good will is expressed in a material, earthly form-by giving presents to one's friends, or by sending them cards in token of remembrance. .
The structures were austere and simple, until one looked at them and realized what work, what complexity of method, what tension of thought had achieved the simplicity.
Dangers, to Francisco, were merely opportunities for another brilliant performance; there were no battles he could lose, no enemies to beat him.
He thought...that man's work should be a higher step, an improvement on nature, not a degradation. He did not want to despise men; he wanted to love and admire them.
Every man is free to rise as far as he's able or willing, but the degree to which he thinks determines the degree to which he'll rise.
Do not keep silent when your own ideas and values are being attacked. If a dictatorship ever comes to this country, it will be by the fault of those who keep silent. We are still free enough to speak. Do we have time? No one can tell.
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.
Man is a being with free will; therefore, each man is potentially good or evil, and it's up to him and only him (through his reasoning mind) to decide which he wants to be.
The pursuit of truth is not important. The pursuit of that truth is important which helps you in reaching your goal that is provided you have one.
There's only one passion in most artists more violent than their desire for admiration: their fear of identifying the nature of such admiration as they do receive.
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.
Those who wish to deal with me, must do so on my terms or not at all. I do not make terms with incompetence.
His view of the world was simple: there were the able and there were the incompetent; he was not concerned with the latter.
There is no conflict of interests among men, neither in business nor in trade nor in their most personal desires--if they omit the irrational from their view of the possible and destruction from their view of the practical?
Independence is the recognition of the fact that yours is the responsibility of judgment and nothing can help you escape it...
When you have established that one alternative is good and the other is evil, there is no justification for the choice of a mixture. There is no justification ever for choosing any part of what you know to be evil.
The fields are black and ploughed, and they lie like a great fan before us, with their furrows gathered in some hand beyond the sky, spreading forth from that hand, opening wide apart as they come toward us, like black pleats that sparkle with thin, green spangles.
I understood that centuries of chains and lashes will not kill the spirit of man nor the sense of truth within him.
And suddenly that we were laughing out loud, laughing as if there were no power left in us save laughter.
There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.
I worship individuals for their highest possibilities as individuals and I loathe humanity for its failure to live up to these possibilities.
Reason can be fought with reason. How are you going to fight the unreasonable? The trouble with you, my dear, and with most people, is that you don't have sufficient respect for the senseless. The senseless is the major factor in our lives. You have no chance if it is your enemy.
What is morality, she asked.
Judgement to distinguish right and wrong, vision to see the truth, and courage to act upon it, dedication to that which is good, integrity to stand by the good at any price.
I love you, Dominique. As selfishly as the fact that I exist. As selfishly as my lungs breathe air. I breathe for my own necessity, for the fuel of my body, for my survival. I've given you, not my sacrifice or my pity, but my ego and my naked need. This is the only way I can want you to love me.
The men who are not interested in philosophy need it most urgently; they are most helplessly in its power.
The purpose of the law is not to prevent a future offense, but to punish the one actually committed.
Humanity's darkest evil, the most destructive horror machine among all the devices of men, is non-objective law.
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.
I consider promiscuity immoral. Not because sex is evil, but because sex is too good and too important.
To know one's own desires, their meaning and their costs requires the highest human virtue: rationality.
When a man feels fear without reason, you call him to the attention of a psychiatrist; you are not so careful to protect the meaning, the nature and the dignity of love.
Now you see, Dr. Stadler, you're speaking as if this book were addressing to a thinking audience. If it were, one would have to be concerned with such matters as accuracy, validity, logic and the prestige of science. But it isn't. It's addressed to the public.
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.
Aquinas brought an Aristotelian view of reason back into European culture, and lighted the way toward the Renaissance.
Ask anything of men. Ask them to achieve wealth, fame, love, brutality, murder, self-sacrifice. But don't ask them to achieve self-respect. They will hate your soul.
I would step in the way of a bullet if it were aimed at my husband. It is not self-sacrifice to die protecting that which you value: If the value is great enough, you do not care to exist without it.
There are two things we must get rid of early in life: a feeling of personal superiority and an exaggerated reverence for the sexual act.
There has never been a philosophy, a theory or a doctrine that attacked (or limited) reason, which did not also preach submission to the power of some authority.
There has never been a philosophy, a theory or a doctrine, that attacked (or 'limited') reason, which did not preach submission to the power of some authority.
A man who seeks escape from the responsibility of supporting his life by his own thought and effort, and wishes to survive by conquering, ruling and exploiting others, is NOT an Individualist.
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).
The only thing that counts in life is solid, material assets. It's no time for theories when everything is falling to pieces around us.
And because she worshipped joy, Kira seldom laughed and did not go to see comedies in theaters. And because she felt a profound rebellion against the weighty, the tragic, the solemn, Kira had a solemn reverence for those songs of defiant gaiety.
If workers struggle for higher wages, this is hailed as social gains, if businessmen struggle for higher profits, this is damned as selfish greed.
Mr. Ward, what is it that the foulest bastards on earth denounce us for, among other things? Oh yes, for our motto of 'Business as usual.' Well-business as usual, Mr. Ward!
One's own independent judgment is the means by which one must choose one's actions, but it is not a moral criterion nor a moral validation; only reference to a demonstrable principle can validate one's choices.
To love is to value. Only a rationally selfish man, a man of self-esteem, is capable of love--because he is the only man capable of holding firm, consistent, uncompromising, unbetrayed values. The man who does not value himself, cannot value anything or anyone.
Reality is an absolute, existence is an absolute, a speck of dust is an absolute and so is a human life. Whether you live or die is an absolute. Whether you have a piece of bread or not, is an absolute. Whether you eat your bread or see it vanish into a looter's stomach, is an absolute.
The freedom of speech of private individuals includes the right to not agree, not to listen, and not to finance one's own antagonists.
The best, most natural dialogue is usually written as if the writer is listening to dictation. You might get stuck on any particular point and have to question yourself; but normally, dialogue writes itself.
One must differentiate between one's thoughts and one's emotions with full clarity and precision...No discussion, cooperation, agreement, or understanding is possible among men who substitute emotion for proof.
Is it advisable to spread out all the conveniences of culture before people to whom a few steps up a stair to a library is a sufficient deterrent from reading?
Ever since Kant divorced reason from reality, his intellectual descendants have been diligently widening the breach.
Every major horror of history was committed in the name of an altruistic motive. Has any act of selfishness ever equalled the carnage perpetrated by disciples of altruism.
The fortune my spirit is not to be blown into coins of brass and flung to the winds as alms for the poor of the spirit. I guard my treasures: my thought, my will, my freedom. And the greatest of these is freedom.
Collectivism answers: The power of society is unlimited. Society may make any laws it wishes, and force them upon anyone in any manner it wishes.
What is the basic, the essential, the crucial principle that differentiates freedom from slavery? It is the principle of voluntary action versus physical coercion or compulsion.
To abstain from condemning a torturer, is to become an accessory to the torture and murder of his victims.
We fell, but we never let the box fall from our hands. Then we ran. We ran blindly, and men and houses streaked past us in a torrent without shape.
In order to deal with reality successfully -- to pursue and achieve the values which his life requires -- man needs self-esteem; he needs to be confident of his efficacy and worth.
Let me be the child in the story and declare that the Emperor is naked -- or that America is culturally bankrupt.
There is no such thing as the right to enslave.A nation can do it , just as a man can become a criminal -- but neither can do it by right.
It doesn't matter in this context, whether a nation was enslaved by force (like soviet Russia), or by vote (like Nazi Germany).
No man can have a right to impose an unchosen obligation , an unrewarded duty or an involuntary servitude on another man.
There can be no such thing as the right to enslave .
Faith is the commitment of one's consciousness to beliefs for which one has no sensory evidence or rational proof. A mystic is a man who treats his feelings as tools of cognition. Faith is the equation of feeling with knowledge.
Individualism regards man-every man-as an independent, sovereign entity who possesses an inalienable right to his own life, a right derived from his nature as a rational being.
The greatest threat to mankind and civilization is the spread of the totalitarian philosophy. Its best ally is not the devotion of its followers but the confusion of its enemies. To fight it, we must understand it.
One must never allow oneself to acquire an exaggerated sense of one's own importance. There's no necessity to burden oneself with absolutes.
Who was it that said he needed a fulcrum? Give me an unobstructed right-of-way and I'll show them how to move the earth!
All depressions are caused by government interference and the cure is always offered to take more of the poison that caused the disaster. Depressions are not the result of a free economy.
Here, we trade achievements, not failures--values, not needs. We're free of one another, yet we all grow together.
It is here, it exists--but one must enter it naked and alone, with no rags from the falsehoods of centuries, with the purest clarity of mind--not an innocent heart, but that which is much rarer: an intransigent mind--as one's only possession and key.
Nobody stays in this valley except by a full, conscious choice based on a full, conscious knowledge of every fact involved in his decision. Nobody stays here by faking reality in any manner whatever.
We will not deal with men on any terms but ours--and our terms are a moral code which holds that man is an end in himself and not the means to any end of others. We do not seek to force our code upon them. They are free to believe what they please.
An idea is a light turned on in a man's soul. Comic-strip artists are in the habit of representing it by means of a light bulb flashing on, above the head of a character who has suddenly grasped an idea. In simple, primitive terms, this is an appropriate symbol.
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, the choice that controls all the choices you make and determines your life and your character.
It's the hardest thing in the world -- to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kinds of courage.
Romantic art is always stylized: the better the art, the cleaner and more attractive and intelligent the stylization.
The source of the government's authority is the consent of the governed. This means that the government is not the ruler, but the servant or agent of the citizens; it means that the government as such has no rights except the rights delegated to it by the citizens for a specific purpose.
If you get caught at some crucial point and somebody tells you that your doctrine doesn't make sense -- you're ready for him. You tell him there's something above sense. That here he must not try to think, he must feel. He must believe. Suspend reason and you can play it deuces wild.
Only the man who extols the purity of love devoid of desire, is capable of the depravity of a desire devoid of love.
Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men's protection, and the base of a moral existence.
Fear walks through the City, fear without name, without shape. All men feel it and none dare to speak.
A reader has to be concerned only with the end result; unless he chooses to analyze it, he does not have to know by what means that result was achieved-but it is my job to know.
Love, friendship, respect, admiration are the emotional response of one man to the virtues of another, the spiritual payment given in exchange for the personal, selfish pleasure which one man derives from the virtues of another man's character.
Any refusal to recognize reality, for any reason whatever, has disastrous consequences. There are no evil thoughts except one: the refusal to think. Don't ignore your own desires.... Don't sacrifice them. Examine their cause. There is a limit to how much you should have to bear.
Have you felt it too? Have you seen how your best friends love everything about you- except the things that count? And your most important is nothing to them; nothing, not even a sound they can recognize.
There's so much nonsense about human inconstancy and the transience of all emotions. I've always thought that a feeling which changes never existed in the first place.
The basic need of the creator is independence. The reasoning mind cannot work under any form of compulsion. It cannot be curbed, sacrificed or subordinated to any consideration whatsoever. It demands total independence in function and in motive.
Creation comes before distribution -- or there will be nothing to distribute.
Creation comes before distribution -- or there will be nothing to distribute. The need of the creator comes before the need of any possible beneficiary. Yet we are taught to admire the second-hander who dispenses gifts he has not produced above the man who made the gifts possible. We praise an act of charity. We shrug at an act of achievement.
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