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What is the problem that Objectivism sets out to solve?

Is Objectivism a solution? What problem did it solve?

Does it solve a problem? What problem is Objectivism a solution for? What could you not do before or without Objectivism?

Is Objectivism a method? What type of problems does it solve?

How or by what method did Rand produce the philosophy of Objectivism?


  1. Is Objectivism more a tool of analysis with a couple of assumptions thrown in, and the rest an output of Objectivist analysis?

If it is a tool of analysis, describe it like a method or Objectivist method:

  • Like: step 1, step 2, etc, or stage 1, stage 2, etc
  • State: the irreducible basic assumptions
  • Filter out: constructed bits or output of this method of analysis

The Origin

  1. How or by what method and in what places did Rand find the seeds to produce or derive the method of Objectivism?

Her motivation

  1. Why did she do it and what motivated her before she knew Objectivism?
  2. Curiously: Would Objectivism be a reaction to Russian politics during her time there before travelling to USA?

This mystery is defined multiple questions; some mysteries require more than one to unravel.


After listening to "Philosophy: Who Needs It" By Ayn Rand,

My essential concept / core of Rand's philosophy:

  1. The role of mind to conceptualise(i) and reason with concepts(ii), and use them to interpret the world (iii) and apply them to one's behaviour(iv) ( induction(i), system construction(ii), deduction(iii), and practice(iv) : Reason).
  2. From (1 : Reason) Rand posits (a) Individualism follows from Reason & (b) Individualism infers a capitalist system.

Recap: (1) = structured awareness; (2) = independent life

Correct me if this falls short.

asked Jan 04 '12 at 16:48

Adeikov's gravatar image


edited Jan 05 '12 at 19:57

Objectivism was created to solve the problem of Ayn Rand not having an automatic code of survival, and that's the problem it did in fact solve.

(Jan 05 '12 at 15:15) anthony anthony's gravatar image

The short answer is: Objectivism was introduced to solve the problem of humanity lacking an explicit, systematic philosophy for living on earth. Philosophy is important and inescapable, and history is unfortunately littered with the victims of philosophies aimed (purposefully or accidentally) at something other than living on earth.

As Dr. Leonard Peikoff explains in the introduction to his wonderful book Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand,

Philosophy is not a bauble of the intellect, but a power from which no man can abstain. Anyone can say that he dispenses with a view of reality, knowledge, the good, but no one can implement this credo. The reason is that man, by his nature as a conceptual being, cannot function at all without some form of philosophy to serve as his guide.

Ayn Rand discusses the role of philosophy in her West Point lecture "Philosophy: Who Needs It." Without abstract ideas, she says,

you would not be able to deal with concrete, particular, real-life problems. You would be in the position of a newborn infant, to whom every object is a unique, unprecedented phenomenon. The difference between his mental state and yours lies in the number of conceptual integrations your mind has performed. You have no choice about the necessity to integrate your observations, your experiences, your knowledge into abstract ideas, i.e., into principles.

Your only choice, she continues, is whether your principles are true or false, rational or irrational, consistent or contradictory. The only way to know which they are is to integrate your principles.

What integrates them? Philosophy. A philosophic system is an integrated view of existence. As a human being, you have no choice about the fact that you need a philosophy. Your only choice is whether you define your philosophy by a conscious, rational, disciplined process of thought and scrupulously logical deliberation — or let your subconscious accumulate a junk heap of unwarranted conclusions, false generalizations, undefined contradictions, undigested slogans, unidentified wishes, doubts and fears, thrown together by chance, but integrated by your subconscious into a kind of mongrel philosophy and fused into a single, solid weight: self-doubt, like a ball and chain in the place where your mind's wings should have grown.

Philosophy, in Ayn Rand's view, is the fundamental force shaping every man and culture. It is the science that guides men's conceptual faculty, and thus every field of endeavor that counts on this faculty. ...

Philosophy is a human need as real as the need of food. It is a need of the mind, without which man cannot obtain his food or anything else his life requires.

answered Jan 04 '12 at 17:49

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

edited Jan 04 '12 at 17:50

Great answer. The question itself is evidence that some people don't understand why philosophy is valuable or what philosophy is good for.

Most people think philosophy is optional or esoteric.

Objectivism is for living. Live requires reason. Reason requires freedom. Freedom is implemented only by capitalism.

(Jan 05 '12 at 10:42) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

In large part, the question is asking about the goal of Ayn Rand's writing. Ayn Rand explains her goal herself in an article titled, "The Goal of My Writing," published as Chapter 11 in the 1975 Signet paperback edition of The Romantic Manifesto (RM). It must be remembered that Ayn Rand was a novelist as well as a philosopher; she was a novelist before she was a philosopher. She did not begin her intellectual career seeking to be a philosopher, and if asked about becoming a leading philosopher, she probably would have replied, "Do you hate me so much that you would wish such a thing on me?" Her goal was fiction writing -- creating literary art of a kind that she later identified as Romantic Realism. She wanted to create artistic portrayals of the ideal man, for her own selfish contemplation and pleasure first of all, and for her readers as well. She explains it this way in the RM article:

The motive and purpose of my writing is the projection of an ideal man. The portrayal of a moral ideal, as my ultimate literary goal, as an end in itself -- to which any didactic, intellectual or philosophical values contained in a novel are only the means.

Let me stress this: my purpose is not the philosophical enlightenment of my readers, it is not the beneficial influence which my novels may have on people, it is not the fact that my novels may help a reader's intellectual development. All these matters are important, but they are secondary considerations, they are merely consequences and effects, not first causes or prime movers. 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. Which, incidentally, is the greatest value I could ever offer a reader.

She found, however, that she couldn't achieve her goal without an explicit philosophy to guide her effort. She tried to find a suitable philosophy already existing, but couldn't. She ended up having to formulate the philosophy for her ideal man herself. With the completion of Atlas Shrugged, she finally achieved it fully. It was only at that point, after publication of Atlas Shrugged, that she spent the rest of her intellectual career engaging in non-fiction writing and speaking, presenting her new philosophy to an ever widening audience. She observes (ibid.):

...neither politics nor ethics nor philosophy are ends in themselves, neither in life nor in literature. Only Man is an end in himself.

(Other Objectivist Answer providers have already explained why Ayn Rand's philosophy serves the purpose of guiding man's life on earth vastly better than any other philosophy ever put forth.)

answered Jan 06 '12 at 16:12

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

Objectivism is the application of reason in a systematic way to the questions of "What do we know?", and "How do we know it?".

One of the unique aspects of Objectivism is that it is not based on assumptions which are in turn used to deduce conclusions. Rather, it is a systematic approach when confronted with something to determine if that something is an irreducible primary or does it have dependencies on other things.

The philosophic irreducible primaries are the identification of what lies at the root of every entity, attribute, action, event or phenomenon (including consciousness) that exists, has ever existed or will ever exist. Existence and identity. Consciousness, too, is an irreducible primary being implicit in every act of awareness.

Her biggest contribution by far (and probably the most difficult aspect of Objectivism to understand) was her analysis of the process of concept-formation. By demonstrating the objective relationship between concepts and reality starting with the first-level concepts, she outlines the process of abstraction from abstractions identifying the logical and hierarchal interdependencies within the realm of concepts.

As to what motivated her - it had to be her commitment to reason along with the recognition of the necessary role it serves in the living of life here in reality.

Rather than this being the problem that Objectivism set out to solve, it may well be that solving the "problem of concepts" or universals as it used to be addressed simply laid the foundation for what she later identified as her philosophy.

For a detailed analysis of the process of concept formation, you may want to consider her book on the subject "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology".

answered Jan 04 '12 at 18:01

dream_weaver's gravatar image

dream_weaver ♦

edited Jan 04 '12 at 18:02

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Asked: Jan 04 '12 at 16:48

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Last updated: Jan 06 '12 at 16:12