Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Objectivism was the philosophy of Ayn Rand. As the Ayn Rand Institute website tells us:

Ayn Rand named her philosophy "Objectivism" and described it as a philosophy for living on earth. Objectivism is an integrated system of thought that defines the abstract principles by which a man must think and act if he is to live the life proper to man. ...

Ayn Rand was once asked if she could present the essence of Objectivism while standing on one foot. Her answer was:

Metaphysics: Objective Reality
Epistemology: Reason
Ethics: Self-interest
Politics: Capitalism

She then translated those terms into familiar language:

"Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed."
"You can't eat your cake and have it, too."
"Man is an end in himself."
"Give me liberty or give me death."

For the purpose of this blog, the main interest lies in Objectivism's definition of metaphysics:

"Reality, the external world, exists independent of man's consciousness, independent of any observer's knowledge, beliefs, feelings, desires or fears. This means that A is A, that facts are facts, that things are what they are—and that the task of man's consciousness is to perceive reality, not to create or invent it." Thus Objectivism rejects any belief in the supernatural—and any claim that individuals or groups create their own reality.

Put simply, to the objectivist, God is dead, or more accurately He never existed in the first place.

Adherents to the philosophy can often be found linked in Libertarian lists. Wikipedia tells us:

Many individuals found their support of libertarianism upon ideological elements derived from the philosophy of novelist Ayn Rand, which she called Objectivism. Some libertarians who derive their beliefs from economic reasoning acknowledge various insights of Objectivism, even when not deriving their libertarianism from Objectivism. Many influential figures in the libertarian movement, such as L. Neil Smith, acknowledge a debt to Objectivism. In addition, the fiction of Ayn Rand is popular among even libertarians who do not consider themselves to be Objectivists. Therefore, it is perhaps surprising to some that the compatibility of Objectivism and libertarianism is a hotly contested matter.

The Penn (University of Pennsylvania) Libertarian Association lists "The Atlas Society - home of the Objectivist Center" as one of two "Highly Recommended" links. On the "Recommended" list are familiar names of organizations that I have been writing about--"The Acton Institute" (headed by a Roman Catholic priest), "Atlas Economic Research Foundation", "The Cato Institute", the "Von Mises Institute".

An organization called The Objectivist Center, founded by Philosopher David Kelley who has "addressed the Mont Pelerin Society, the Cato Institute, and Heartland Institute, as well as many Objectivist conferences, proving that Rand's philosophy can seduce even Princeton Ph.D.s.

At the University of Michigan the Students of Objectivism call themselves "The University's Rational Egoists" and present "A Brief Summary of Objectivism" from which the following is taken:

Objectivism states that there is only one reality, the reality we perceive with our senses. Everything in existence acts in accordance with causal laws, because actions are only expressions of the identities of the things acting; this is the “Law of Causality.”... In the philosophy, these statements about consciousness’ relationship with existence are summed up as the “Primacy of Existence” principle. A consequence of the Objectivist view of reality is that supposed supernatural Beings and realms do not exist, and therefore on Theology (study of God, His existence, etc.), Objectivism’s position is Atheist; in addition, it is A-Satanist, A-Vishnu(ist), and A-Flying Spaghetti Monster(ist), etc.

Not all agree, however. The following can be found in the online Encyclopedia of Religion and Society:

[J. T.]Richardson (1997) defines three types of "objectivists" who promote satanism either directly or indirectly, with the types depending on the degree to which the person accepts the objective reality of Satan. Strict objectivists such as fundamentalist Christians believe in an actual Satan that is active in human affairs, promoting evil at every opportunity. Secular objectivists may not believe in a real Satan, but they are willing to entertain the idea of a "satanic conspiracy" operating in our society, say in child care centers or the government. This may occur in particular if accepting the idea of satanism promotes other interests they may have, such as the development of a larger welfare bureaucracy or the spread of feminist ideas of female exploitation. Opportunistic objectivists are those, perhaps including some media talk show personalities (as well as others), who do not believe in Satan or the idea of a satanic conspiracy but who nonetheless are willing to promote the idea for their own purposes.

A poster who calls himself (herself?) "Nemo" sees subtle differences between Satanism and Objectivism:

Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand, is an acknowledged source for some of the Satanic philosophy as outlined in The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey. ...I am a strong admirer of Ayn Rand but I am an even stronger admirer of Anton LaVey for the vital differences between the philosophies of Objectivism and Satanism. ...

If anything, Satanism holds that indulgence in life or “fun” as perceived by the individual is the highest standard of ethics. Satanists see that Objectivism has enthroned reason above the individual as opposed to utilizing this sole means to knowledge as a tool to achieve a purpose. Satanism enthrones the individual as a whole, not reason, as the supreme standard to determine the value of actions (ethics).

Ah yes, the "fun" philosophy. You can find its active adherents among the Libertarians. Robert Anton Wilson was a major proponent of this philosophy as reflected in his book ILLUMINATUS! TRILOGY. He could often be found among the Discordians, including members of the Church of the Sub-Genius, a "religion" that pokes fun at religion. All in the name of a good time, and preferably with some variety of sex thrown into the mix. Libertarians want to define their "fun" without any interference from anyone else who might get hurt. Wilson got star billing at Rev. Ivan Stang's Church of the Sub-Genius.

Wilson is no longer among the living, but his Maybe Logic Academy seems to be going strong, and the list of instructors are a "Who's Who" of the "fun" philosophy.

Ayn Rand's 100th birthday was the subject on one segment of the Sub-Genius forum. They's not fond of her over there. Rev. Stang has this to say:

I feel that Ayn Rand was a classic Rogue SubGenius -- a true weirdo,
indeed a Superior Mutant, but trapped in a prison of ignorance about
Slack. There is not the slightest, teeniest bit of Slack in her world.
It appeals very deeply to certain members of the would-be
intelligentsia. Mensans and so on.

With your evident abiding interest in economic sciences, you should
find some of the business rants by her industrialist characters
side-splitting, or else enfuriating, or, as I did, both.

She has the Us and Them syndrome big-time, and her idea of Us is so
limited that it really did not include even her.

True to form, Stang proves his belief in Rand's philosophy by rejecting even the philosopher who validates his beliefs. But then what is Randianism if not the belief that you are right and the rest of the world is simply misinformed.

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