Ayn Rand, whose real name was Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum, was a Russian-born US writer and founder of Objectivism, a libertarian philosophy. Rand is most famous for her novel Atlas Shrugged, the second most influential book in the USA after the Bible.
If we want to plainly enjoy Ayn Rand’s quotes, we need to understand what Objectivism is.
What Is Objectivism?
Objectivism is a philosophy that states that the world is objective and that man, through reason, can navigate it to achieve happiness, his sole purpose in life.
Let’s have a look at each of these.
Ayn Rand’s objectivism starts with the fact that reality is objective. In her own words, “wishing won’t make it so”.
Life is what it is and you need to deal with reality if you want to change it.
Facts are facts, independent on your feelings, hopes, or values.
Man has only one tool to perceive reality: reason.
Reason is the only way we can look at the world, understand the world, decide how to act, and overall survive. Reason interprets and creates meanings out of information communicated by our senses.
With the fact that the real world is real and that man can comprehend it with reason, what purpose should man seek to achieve?
Well, happiness. What else is there?
According to Ayn Rand, happiness is one man’s only purpose. He should take care of his own happiness first, among anything else. This explains why Rand speaks of the virtue of selfishness.
She considers that if everyone sought to make themselves happy first, the world would be rid of a lot of problems. Furthermore, she considers altruism evil, as it entails the sacrifice of one to the benefit of another.
Sacrifice subsequently leads to tyranny, where certain men use other men as means to their own ends.
Rand warns though, that man should never serve as the means to the ends of others. Translation: you should never be a cog in the wheel of happiness of someone else.
The best system to achieve Objectivism is by far capitalism.
Capitalism promotes freedom and lets men interact with each other without any hierarchy. It is one man to one man, on equal ground, without power in the relationships, or as Rand put it, “free traders, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit”.
Capitalism further prevents anyone from obtaining anything through force.
Altruism is the destroyer of objectivism.
Altruism states that man does not exist for himself, but to serve others, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty.
The political system of altruism is collectivism. In that case, man’s life and work belong to the state, and man owns nothing. The state can make of man whatever it pleases.
Capitalism and altruism cannot co-exist as their morality are completely opposite.
Rand further explains that states will have to choose one way or the other.
Capitalism, with freedom, justice, progress, and happiness.
Or altruism, with slavery, brute force, stagnant terror, and sacrificial furnace.
Now that we understand Ayn Rand’s philosophy, let’s have a look at the quotes.
The Role of Self-Esteem
So, why is self-esteem so important to Ayn Rand?
Before looking for happiness, Rand believes man must feel worthy to deserve it. The men that experience the highest joy in life are the ones with the highest self-esteem because they are the ones that think of themselves as worthy to enjoy it.
Everyone has self-esteem because no one lets themselves die. If you make sure to keep on living, you signal that who you are is worthy to be preserved. The extent to which you “let yourself live” mirrors your level of self-esteem. The more esteem you have, the happier you will be.
Top Ayn Rand Quotes
The man who does not value himself, cannot value anything or anyone.
Self-esteem was a critical piece to Ayn Rand’s, as it corresponded to the amount of joy one let himself feel in his life.
Learn to value yourself, which means: fight for your happiness.
People will try to use you as means to their own end. Learn to value yourself enough so you say no to that.
Never think of pain or danger or enemies a moment longer than is necessary to fight them.
Once again, happiness is the main purpose here.
To say ‘I love you’ one must first be able to say the “I”.
Love, while it may seem altruist at first, is ultimately selfish. You love someone because they make you feel good.
A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.
Some people undertake projects to beat or feel superior to others. Those with true self-esteem don’t care about others. They only care about the quality of their own work.
The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.
Those who justify going over individuals’ rights in favor of the group, calling the group a “minority”, ultimately don’t understand what minorities truly are.
There is a level of cowardice lower than that of the conformist: the fashionable non-conformist.
Some people are like everyone else because they are afraid to be different. Some people are de facto unlike everyone else, because they are afraid to be similar. The latter is worse than the former. Be yourself, and think for yourself.
Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity, since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values.
Achieving life is not the equivalent of avoiding death.
“Most men die by 25 but are not burry before 75” equivalent.
Ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be waiting for us in our graves – or whether it should be ours here and now and on this earth.
Rand, despite being Jewish, was a radical atheist. She despised religion that promised heaven after death.
I don’t build in order to have clients. I have clients in order to build.
Rand didn’t see work as means to earn money, but money as means to achieve work.
If you don’t know, the thing to do is not to get scared, but to learn.
I started my life with a single absolute: that the world was mine to shape in the image of my highest values and never to be given up to a lesser standard, no matter how long or hard the struggle.
To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That’s what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul – would you understand why that’s much harder?
A lot of people in society will buy your soul for a cheap price. This is why it’s so hard not to sell it.
For more articles, head to auresnotes.com.
Then you will likely enjoy all the others. When you subscribe to my bi-weekly newsletter, you'll receive a list of the articles I wrote during the two previous weeks + insights from the books I am reading + a short bullet list of savvy facts that will expand your mind. I keep the whole thing under three minutes.
Oh, and you'll also receive a hidden article for new subscribers only!
How does that sound?