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Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand, the popular and controversial 20th century novelist and philosopher. Ayn Rand first presented her philosophy in her novels, We the Living, Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged. She later turned to writing philosophical essays, many of which are collected in The Virtue of Selfishness, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Philosophy: Who Needs It, The Romantic Manifesto, The Voice of Reason, and Return of the Primitive.

The Ayn Rand Institute summarizes the Essentials of Objectivism as follows:


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.


Man's reason is fully competent to know the facts of reality. Reason, the conceptual faculty, is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man's senses. Reason is man's only means of acquiring knowledge."

Thus, Objectivism rejects mysticism (any acceptance of faith or feeling as a means of knowledge), and it rejects skepticism (the claim that certainty or knowledge is impossible).

Human Nature

Man is a rational being. Reason, as man's only means of knowledge, is his basic means of survival. But the exercise of reason depends on each individual's choice. "Man is a being of volitional consciousness." "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. This is the choice that controls all the choices you make and determines your life and character." Thus Objectivism rejects any form of determinism, the belief that man is a victim of forces beyond his control (such as God, fate, upbringing, genes, or economic conditions).


Reason is man's only proper judge of values and his only proper guide to action. The proper standard of ethics is: man's survival qua man -- i.e., that which is required by man's nature for his survival as a rational being (not his momentary physical survival as a mindless brute). Rationality is man's basic virtue, and his three fundamental values are: reason, purpose, self-esteem. Man -- every man -- is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others; he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his rational self-interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life.

Thus, Objectivism rejects any form of altruism -- the claim that morality consists in living for others or for society.


The basic social principle of the Objectivist ethics is that no man has the right to seek values from others by means of physical force -- i.e., no man or group has the right to initiate the use of physical force against others. Men have the right to use force only in self-defense and only against those who initiate its use. Men must deal with one another as traders, giving value for value, by free, mutual consent to mutual benefit. The only social system that bars physical force from human relationships is laissez-faire capitalism. Capitalism is a system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which the only function of the government is to protect individual rights, i.e., to protect men from those who initiate the use of physical force."

Thus, Objectivism rejects any form of collectivism, such as fascism or socialism. It also rejects the current "mixed economy" notion that the government should regulate the economy and redistribute wealth.


"Art is a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's metaphysical value-judgments." The purpose of art is to concretize the artist's fundamental view of existence. Ayn Rand described her own approach to art as "Romantic Realism": "I am a Romantic in the sense that I present men as they ought to be. I am Realistic in the sense that I place them here and now and on this earth." The goal of Ayn Rand's novels is not didactic but artistic: the projection of an ideal man: "My purpose, first cause and prime mover is the portrayal of Howard Roark or John Galt or Hank Rearden or Francisco d'Anconia as an end in himself -- not as a means to any further end."

Objectivist Literature

Novels by Ayn Rand

Anthologies of Ayn Rand's Philosophical Essays

Works Compiled Posthumously

Quality Secondary Literature



OCON (Objectivist Conferences) is the Ayn Rand Institute's annual summer conference, featuring a lineup of talks on philosophical, cultural, and historical topics.


TOS-Con (The Objective Standard Conference) is the Objective Standard Institute annual summer conference with the tagline Sharpen your mind. Fuel your soul. Excel in life. Fight for liberty.

Freedom and flourishing are not givens. They are consequences of certain ideas that were developed over thousands of years and are still being refined today.

TOS-Con is for people who want to understand and act on these ideas, to thrive in their ventures and relationships, and to support liberty on solid ground.



FIRM (Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine) promotes the philosophy of individual rights, personal responsibility, and free market economics in health care. FIRM holds that the only moral and practical way to obtain medical care is that of individuals choosing and paying for their own medical care in a capitalist free market. Federal and state regulations and entitlements, we maintain, are the two most important factors in driving up medical costs. They have created the crisis we face today.

FIRM was founded by Lin Zinser, JD, with assistance from Paul Hsieh, MD, and others. It is run by Dr Paul Hsieh.

Coalition for Secular Government

The Coalition for Secular Government advocates government solely based on secular principles of individual rights. The protection of a person's basic rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness -- including freedom of religion and conscience -- requires a strict separation of church and state.

It was founded and run by Dr Diana Hsieh.

FRO Resources | Front Range Objectivism