Ayn Rand’s writings and philosophy are a symphony of reason and inspiration. For example, in responding to a fan in 1960 about the meaning of life, she wrote:
“Joy, exultation, beauty, greatness, heroism, all of the supreme, uplifting values of man’s existence on Earth, are the meaning of life.”
In the afterword to Atlas Shrugged, she wrote:
“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.”
Man as a heroic being!? I’d never read anything so cogent and uplifting. Elsewhere in the novel, Rand writes:
Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark… do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists… it is real… it is possible. It’s yours.
And another, from We the Living:
“Feel reverence for your own life and want the best, the greatest, the highest possible, here, now, for your very own. Imagine a heaven then not to dream of it, but to demand it.”
The beauty and grandeur of her writing can cause one to get lost in the drama and perhaps overlook the ideas expressed in these and other philosophic passages.
Her nonfiction work is equally rich. For instance, Rand coined the term “benevolent universe premise,” which she describes in her Romantic Manifesto. In essence, it’s the idea that because of the causal nature of the universe and man’s faculty of reason, success and happiness are possible to anyone who works to understand the laws of reality to achieve his values. Consider some of the related questions she poses and answers:
Is the universe intelligible to man, or unintelligible and unknowable? Can man find happiness on earth, or is he doomed to frustration and despair? Does man have the power of choice, the power to choose his goals and to achieve them, the power to direct the course of his life—or is he the helpless plaything of forces beyond his control, which determine his fate? Is man, by nature, to be valued as good, or to be despised as evil? —Romantic Manifesto
Our answers to these questions have a profound effect upon how we live our life.
Rand developed a philosophy for life, which says that the universe is intelligible and that we can know it; that man can find happiness on earth; that man does have the power of choice; he can choose to think (or not); he can choose his goals and achieve them; he has the power to direct the course of his life. And she held that man, by nature, is to be valued as good.
I have applied her philosophy to the laboratory of business (business is a demanding laboratory) where it has enabled me to achieve considerable success and wealth. Atlas Shrugged inspired me with stories of brilliant, thinking entrepreneurs, and Rand’s nonfiction has provided definitive, clear guidance on how to live as they do. I’m enormously grateful to her.
Rand’s philosophy changed my life broadly and profoundly. Before I discovered her ideas, I knew little about morality and ethics, and what I had learned was wrong. She taught me about ideals, love of the good, self-interest, rational values and virtues—including the cardinal values and virtues: reason and rationality, purpose and productiveness, self-esteem and pride. For me, these ideas were like discovering spiritual diamonds. They provided priceless intellectual wealth. Rand’s rational, life-enriching ethics taught me that life is to be enjoyed (which I really did not know, and I think few people truly do). She showed me that a man’s highest moral purpose is the achievement of his own happiness. She taught me about the morality of happiness, what it is, and how to achieve it.
We are enjoying ever-increasing prosperity in America surrounded by amazing technological advances, yet America is in upheaval and is being torn apart. The source and cause of this chaos is a pervasive and pernicious philosophy – a toxic, anti-man, anti-reason philosophy that says the individual’s mind is impotent and the individual’s life is unimportant. It says our lives are dispensable, our lives belong not to us, but to the collective State, the government. What is the solution?
Politics and economics alone will not change the world. We’ve had the political ideas of John Locke and the economic ideas of Adam Smith for hundreds of years. Smith launched the science of economics, which helped America to create wealth and prosperity. And the founders embraced Locke’s ideas, which laid the groundwork for the creation of America. But look what’s happened since—a tyranny of taxes, regulations, and “royal” edicts (recently even house arrest) far worse than England and King George. Political ideas, no matter how good, are not good enough.
Only rational philosophy can change the world. That is one of the reasons I created the Objectivist Venture Fund and Prometheus Foundation to promote Ayn Rand and advance Objectivism.
In the wonderful movie, The King’s Speech, one of the most powerful lines is when the King, who has spent his life struggling with a speech impediment, shouts, “I have a voice!” I would love to have the clarity and power of Ayn Rand’s voice. I would love to have a voice like Leonard Peikoff’s when he masterfully teaches philosophy. I may not have their voices, but I do have my own: When I fund and support motivated entrepreneurial Objectivists and good organizations who are speaking out for life-serving ideas, my voice joins all of theirs.
Objectivism is a philosophy of and for success. Rand and Peikoff have enriched my life spiritually and materially. Objectivism has helped me to become successful, and I’ve created a lot of wealth. I attribute much of what I’ve been able to achieve to them and to Objectivism. Therefore, for me, promoting Ayn Rand and advancing Objectivism is a matter of justice and gratitude. In a sense, doing so gives me a voice in yet another way: of saying, “Thank you.”
Thomas Paine once declared, “We have it in our power to begin the world anew.” These words were not those of a naïve dreamer. In just a little over a decade, that new world became real: The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights all were written and instituted as the law of the land. For the first time in the history of the world, men created a country of individual sovereignty, of individual rights and liberty—a unique, wonderful country.
Fortunately, we now have a second chance to begin this world anew, with a true, life-affirming philosophy. We have a voice, and by promoting Ayn Rand and advancing Objectivism, we can help change the world for the better.
I’ll let Ayn Rand have the last word:
“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark…. Do not let the hero in your soul perish…. The world you desire can be won.”