Right and Wrong


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Before I get into this, it would be helpful if you let me know which of Rand's works (or other Objectivist literature) you have read. I will then be able to point you in the right direction.

It is possible to rationally describe faith and there is right and wrong—rationally derived.

There are standard Objectivist views of these things, then I personally have some of my own observations, as others here on OL do. I would be more than glad to share these thoughts with you, but I prefer to find out a bit about you know so I can present the answer on your level.

If you have read very little about Objectivism, I suggest the short FAQ essays by William Thomas on OL in the "Objectivist Philosophy" section to get your feet wet. Then we can go on to your specific questions. Here is a post with the links for convenience:

FAQ: What is Objectivism?

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


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)

You can probably read all this in under a half hour. I highly recommend it if you are a complete beginner.

Please note the The Objectivist Center is now called The Atlas Society.


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Thanks for the quote! :cool:

I've read Atlas Shrugged, Anthem, the Fountainhead, We the Living, Night of January16th, and The Lexicon.

This is basically the order I've read them in. I used to read the Individualist and Objectivist Newsletter but can't find thetime anymore. :(

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With that kind of reading (you read the entire Lexicon, or just hunt and peck like everybody does?), you have at least some kind of argument to present to your cousin. So I imagine you are presenting one and have hit a snag. How old is your cousin and what is his intellectual and/or religious leaning?


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Is there a rational way to discribe faith?

Sorry about the depth of the questions...

My cousin is asking me these things and I don't know how to answer! :blink:

Faith in what sense of the word?

There is faith is in belief in the impossible and hope for that which cannot be.

There is faith as a reasonable assumption that nature works in an orderly fashion. For example it is held (believed) that physical laws stand everywhere in the cosmos and for all time. Has it been demonstrated empirically? No. Nor can it be. Why? Because humans do not have the power, ability or technology to go everywhere particularly to go to the past. We hold that natural law is constant because we could not do science if we did not believe that. That is a reasonable kind of faith.

The faith that something can become what it is not nor can become is a denial of the principle of identity. That kind of faith is irrational. A thing cannot be and not be something at the same time in the same context or sense. This is the principle of identity expressed as the law of non contradiction. We hold that contradictions cannot occur in reality, only in our wish-fantasy world.

Faith can be justified only on the grounds of possibility. Faith can move mountains. If a mountain is in your way you can cut through it or blast it to bits with sufficient explosives. Both have actually occurred.

Objectivist Folk seem to assign only one meaning to the word "faith". This is an error. Am I wrong on this?

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Jehni; The Objectivist has been out of print a very long time. The Objectivist stopped publishing in 1971.

The New Individualist that comes from TAS-TOC has been out the past year.[

I would recommend you read Peikoff's book Objectivism: The Philosphy of Ayn Rand. There are problems but it is a good over-view of Miss Rand's philosphy.

Edited by Chris Grieb
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