FAQ: What is Objectivism


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FAQ: What is Objectivism?

(Note from MSK in May 2017: The link to The Objectivist Center in this post is no longer valid as the organization has been renamed The Atlas Society. And it seems like William Thomas might no longer be at TAS. However, for historical reasons, we are leaving the post as is. To get the current TAS information on Objectivism, please go to Objectivism 101.)

by William Thomas - The Objectivist Center/The Atlas Society

My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being,with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.

— Ayn Rand, Appendix to Atlas Shrugged

Objectivism is the philosophy of rational individualism founded by Ayn Rand (1905-1982). In novels such as The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, Rand dramatized her ideal man, the producer who lives by his own effort and does not give or receive the undeserved, who honors achievement and rejects envy. Rand laid out the details of her world-view in nonfiction books such as The Virtue of Selfishness and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.

Objectivism holds that there is no greater moral goal than achieving happiness. But one cannot achieve happiness by wish or whim. Fundamentally, it requires rational respect for the facts of reality, including the facts about our human nature and needs. Happiness requires that one live by objective principles, including moral integrity and respect for the rights of others. Politically, Objectivists advocate laissez-faire capitalism. Under capitalism, a strictly limited government protects each person's rights to life, liberty, and property and forbids that anyone initiate force against anyone else. The heroes of Objectivism are achievers who build businesses, invent technologies, and create art and ideas, depending on their own talents and on trade with other independent people to reach their goals.

Objectivism is optimistic, holding that the universe is open to human achievement and happiness and that each person has within him the ability live a rich, fulfilling, independent life. This idealistic message suffuses Rand's novels, which continue to sell by the hundreds of thousands every year to people attracted to their inspirational storylines and distinctive ideas.

The answers to the questions in the FAQ section of the Objectivist Center's website provide a summary of the core ideas of Objectivism and the relationship between those ideas within a philosophical system. So we must first consider what philosophy is, and why it must be systematic.

© Copyright 2005 - The Objectivist Center, reprinted with permission


The Atlas Society (formerly The Objectivist Center)

A very special thank you to our friends at The Objectivist Center for allowing us to reprint their summaries on Objectivist philosophy. Also in this series:

FAQ: What is the Objectivist View of Reality (Metaphysics)?

FAQ: What is the Objectivist Theory of Knowledge

FAQ: What is the Objectivist Position in Morality (Ethics)?

FAQ: What is the Objectivist View of Law and Government

FAQ: What does Objectivism Consider to be Art (Aesthetics)

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  • 11 years later...

17 minutes ago, Mike DeBurgh said:

The link to 


is not working.  In attempting variations I've opened up a NY hotel website and a website pitching phentermine.


Welcome to OL.


Thanks for mentioning this. Nobody has clicked on those links in a long time and, since then, that organization has developed. It is now called The Atlas Society. (Now I have some cleaning up to do... :) )

This link going to the same organization should serve you well: Objectivism 101.


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