Ayn Rand - Interviews (1959)

Ayn Rand interviewed by Phil Donahue - 1980 (2/5)

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Rand's greatest influence was Aristotle, especially Organon ("Logic"); she considered Aristotle the greatest philosopher.In particular, her philosophy reflects an Aristotelian epistemology and metaphysics -- both Aristotle and Rand argued that "there exists an objective reality that is independent of mind and that is capable of being known."Although Rand was ultimately critical of Aristotle's ethics, others have noted her egoistic ethics "is of the eudemonistic type, close to Aristotle's own...a system of guidelines required by human beings to live their lives successfully, to flourish, to survive as 'man qua man.'" Younkins argued "that her philosophy diverges from Aristotle's by considering essences as epistemological and contextual instead of as metaphysical. She envisions Aristotle as a philosophical intuitiveness who declared the existence of essences within concretes."

Documentary Description

Ayn Rand, by Britannica.com
born Feb. 2, 1905, St. Petersburg, Russia died March 6, 1982, New York, N.Y., U.S.

Russian-born American writer who, in commercially successful novels, presented her philosophy of objectivism, essentially reversing the traditional Judeo-Christian ethic.

Rand graduated from the University of Petrograd in 1924 and two years later immigrated to the United States. She initially worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood and in 1931 became a naturalized U.S. citizen. Her first novel, We, the Living, was published in 1936. The Fountainhead (1943), her first best-selling novel, depicts a highly romanticized architect-hero, a superior individual whose egoism and genius prevail over timid traditionalism and social conformism. The allegorical Atlas Shrugged (1957), another best-seller, combines science fiction and political message in telling of an anticollectivist strike called by the management of U.S. big industry, a company of attractive, self-made men.

The political philosophy of objectivism shaped Rand’s work. A deeply conservative philosophy, it posited individual effort and ability as the sole source of all genuine achievement, thereby elevating the pursuit of self-interest to the role of first principle and scorning such notions as altruism and sacrifice for the common good as liberal delusions and even vices. It further held laissez-faire capitalism is most congenial to the exercise of talent. Rand’s philosophy underlay her fiction but found more direct expression in her nonfiction, including such works as For the New Intellectual (1961), The Virtue of Selfishness (1965), Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (1966), Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (1967), and Philosophy: Who Needs It? (1982). She also promoted her objectivist philosophy in the journals The Objectivist (1962–71) and The Ayn Rand Letter (1971–76).

Rand’s controversial views attracted a faithful audience of admirers and followers. She was working on an adaptation of Atlas Shrugged for a television miniseries when she died.

Source: "Ayn Rand." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 02 Dec. 2009


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