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There seems to be a lot of agreement between Ayn Rand and Friedrich Nietzsche in a lot of ways: especially related to individualism and selfishness. How much was Nietzsche actually an influence on Ayn Rand?

asked Sep 18 '10 at 03:23

Andrew%20Miner's gravatar image

Andrew Miner ♦

I was going to ask that question! Good one. :o)

(Sep 18 '10 at 10:30) rationaljenn ♦ rationaljenn's gravatar image

AR gave an answer on this in her intro to the 25th anniversary edition of The Fountainhead. Philosophically he is a mixed bag but in sense-of-life terms he projected at times a sense of man's heroic greatness. There's also an unstated similarity in that man is a Creator of his own values in a godless world, in effect becoming godlike (see her 'Letters' where she describes Roark at times in such terms). Of course, Nietzsche's take on value-creation has an "existentialist" flavor whereas AR is a neo-Aristotelian, biocentric value-objectivist. (See also: 'will-to-power' as life-affirmation.)

(Sep 22 '10 at 21:25) Chris Cathcart Chris%20Cathcart's gravatar image

Rand herself would say no, as she claims to not have been inspired by anyone. However, Rand, while a great philosopher, was also VERY prideful, probably as a natural extension of her philosophy, which itself crowns Reason as her interpretation of God. Since she also considered herself the smartest living person, and thus the one with the most powers of Reason, it makes sense that she would be so prideful as to claim that she was not influenced by anyone. The parallels between Rand and Nietzsche are so great that it certainly seems like she took a lot of her philosophy from Nietzsche.

(Feb 04 '11 at 23:13) Porojukaha Porojukaha's gravatar image

Porojukaha, your comment here doesn't seem to be based on fact. Ayn Rand explicitly credits Aristotle as the philosopher to whom she owes a philosophical debt (which is sensible, because he laid the fundamental foundation for what she did; they agree on fundamentals). Meanwhile, she was obviously provoked to address various problems by many others such as Kant and Nietzsche (Kant as an important foil, and Nietzsche as a popular rhetorical stylist who had some superficial similarities but deep, fundamental differences). Aristotle was her teacher and kindred spirit; the others were not.

(Feb 06 '11 at 10:43) Greg Perkins ♦♦ Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image
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I am no expert on this and whilst there are some scant resources of Objectivists discusing Nietzsche from an Objectivist perspective (and hence, as Ayn Rand would have essentially viewed him), I know little of Nietzsche, and cannot really judge how well they do.

But I can recommend Shoshana Milgram's paper, found in 'Essays on Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead', entilted 'From Notebook to Novel'. It contains a section on Frederich Nietzsche, on the admiration Ayn Rand expressed for his ideas, early on in her life and around the time of writing The Fountainhead. It also shows how she came to reject his ideas, as inconsistent with her understanding of individualism and selfishness, and how this showed in the changes she made to 'The Fountainhead'.

Something I thought to add, upon returning to this after a while: people who ask about the connection often have not actually read one or the other of Nietzsche or Ayn Rand. Brian Leiter, an academic philosopher, has done a lot of good work exposing the common misconceptions of Nietzsche. His ideas, through and through, just are not the kind Ayn Rand would assent to. They were superficial statements she liked, expressing a certain spirit which she admired. As far as any actual study goes Rand had more in common with Hegel than Nietzsche.

answered Sep 18 '10 at 10:03

Tenure's gravatar image

Tenure ♦

edited Feb 05 '11 at 05:23

Yes ... the answer will also depend on what the questioner means by "inspired" and "influenced" ...

(Sep 18 '10 at 13:35) Robert Nasir ♦ Robert%20Nasir's gravatar image

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Asked: Sep 18 '10 at 03:23

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Last updated: Feb 06 '11 at 10:43