Objectivist philosophy

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Objectivism (capitalized) is the name chosen by Ayn Rand for her philosophy. Some of the main Objectivist tenets are:

I. Objective reality

Reality is what it is, independent of our beliefs or desires. No two facts of reality can contradict each other- this is an important test of truth. Everything that exists has a specific identity and a specific nature that determines how it acts. Nature is to be explained in terms of nature, without reference to the supernatural. Everything that occurs has a material cause, and everything that exists has a material basis.

II. Reason

The mind apprehends reality through a process of reasoning. Reasoning is the art of building from perceptions to concepts and propositions. In this way, beliefs are built up from the evidence. Reasoning, or logic, follows certain, non-arbitrary rules which must be adhered to if we wish to reach valid conclusions. These rules include non-contradictory identification and grouping by essentials. By applying the rules of logic consistently, we can hope to achieve objectively valid knowledge about reality.

III. Morality

If we wish to survive we must act in certain ways. Moral behavior is that which tends to promote our survival. Immoral behavior is that which tends to promote our destruction. Where survival is not at issue, moral behavior will tend to promote security and happiness, immoral behavior insecurity and unhappiness. There are different levels of value. The higher values are those which make the lesser values possible. At the higher levels of value there is a community of interests among all rational, civilized human beings. The question of self versus others is irrelevant, in that one's self-interest and the interests of others are in fundamental harmony. The rational pursuit of one's interests promotes the interests of others, while the good of others promotes one's own good. As a practical matter, the good of all is best served when individuals pursue their own legitimate interests as they each see fit.

IV. Politics

If self versus others is an irrelevant issue, so too is the question of the individual versus society. The individual good and the social good are in harmony. A society is healthy to the extent that individuals are free to pursue their goals. This freedom is the fundamental social value. It requires that human relationships of all forms be voluntary. Mutual consent is the defining characteristic of a free society. People are unfree to the extent that they are forced to do what they would not choose for themselves. As all governmental action is based on using force to this end, it is necessary to limit the scope of government action as much as possible, leaving the scope of individual freedom as broad as possible. Politically, people can exercise their rights however they please, so long as they do not encroach upon the rights of others. Socially, people can choose to what extent they will abide by cultural norms. Economically, people are free to produce and exchange as they see fit, in the spirit of capitalism.


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