AYN RAND (1905-1982)

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Ayn Rand (pronounced as rhymes with mine [1]) was a composer of short stories, fiction, screen plays and an influential philosopher. In philosophical circles, Rand is known best for her theory of Objectivism, the ideal human in an ideal world, which she depicted in many of her fictional novels and later expanded upon in her philosophical writings [2].

Born in St. Petersburg, Russia [3], Ayn Rand (given name Alisa Rosenbaum [4]) graduated from Leningrad University before leaving Russia in 1925 for the United States [5].

In 1929 Rand married actor Charles Francis (Frank) O'Connor, who died in 1979 [6].

BACKGROUND

Before publishing her novels and philosophical works, Rand worked many jobs as she established herself in the United States. She was a movie extra, filing clerk and even sold newspaper subscriptions before selling her first work in 1932 [7].

WORKS

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Rand had 47 works, some of which were published after her death in 1982. While she was still writing herself, Rand’s ideas were revisited and revised with well over 100 additional publications from fellow philosophers.

In 2008, estimates held that Rand sold 25 million copies [8] of her works, including 6.5 million copies of her most famous novel The Fountainhead. This book-turned screenplay was first published in 1943 and has over six million copies in print. The book’s main character, Howard Roark is the depiction of Rand’s ideal objectivist man.

PHILOSOPHY of OBJECTIVISM

Although a very in-depth concept that continues to inspire philosophical debate and expansion today, Objectivism is essentially based on four principles:

    • Reality is absolute. It is independent of influence.
    • Reason is man’s perception of reality and guide’s his life.
    • Man must live for himself as an individual.
    • Life is best guided by laissez-faire capitalism.

In her book The Virtue of Selfishness, Rand preludes her objectivist reasoning by focusing on the word selfishness which she defines as “concern with one’s own interests” (Introduction). This novel, which sold 3.5 million copies compares and contrasts pieces of her objectivist theory to politics, racism and the rights of man [9].

LINKS

In 1983, Rand’s legal heir, Canadian born Dr. Leonard Peikoff was instrumental in the founding of the Ayn Rand Institute [10]. A branch of the Institute, The Ayn Rand Centre for Individual Rights distributes copies of Rand’s books as part of their mission to “advance individual rights (the rights of each person to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness) as the moral basis for a fully free, laissez-faire capitalist society.”

The Ayn Rand Institute holds events, awards scholarships and assists educators in teaching Rand’s philosophies. Its online tools includes a multi-media library hosting lectures and interviews from Rand herself.

2012

Rand continues to be discussed in conversation about current market trends [11] and politics [12]. Her theory of objectivism continues to spark questions about ethics and how individuals make decisions [13].

REFERENCES

1 Frequently asked questions. The Ayn Rand institute. (n.d). Retrieved September 8, 2012. From http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_ayn_rand_faq_index2#ar_q3

2 Badhwar, N.K. and Long, R.T. (2012). Ayn Rand. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2012 Edition). Retrieved September 8, 2012. From http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ayn-rand/#LifWor

3 Frequently asked questions. The Ayn Rand Institute. (n.d). Retrieved September 8, 2012. From http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_ayn_rand_aynrand_biography

4 Frequently asked questions. The Ayn Rand Institute. (n.d). Retrieved September 8, 2012. From http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_ayn_rand_faq_index2#ar_q3

5 Ayn Rand’s biographical timeline. The Ayn Rand Institute. (n.d) Retrieved September 8, 2012. From http://facetsofaynrand.com/about-ayn-rand/timeline.html

6 Stritorf, S. and Bob. (2012). Marriage of Frank O’Connor and Ayn Rand. Retrieved September 24, 2012. From http://marriage.about.com/od/thearts/p/Marriage-Of-Frank-O-Connor-And-Ayn-Rand.htm

7 Lawrence, R. (2010). Objectivism reference centre. Retrieved September 25, 2012. From http://www.noblesoul.com/orc/bio/biofaq.html#Q3.2

8 Lawrence, R. (2010> Objectivism reference centre. Retrieved September 25, 2012. From http://www.noblesoul.com/orc/bio/biofaq.html#Q3.2

9 Rand, A. (1961). The Virtue of Selfishness. NY, New York: Penguin Group.

10 Leonard Peikoff’s Work. The Ayn Rand institute. Retrieved September 25, 2012. From http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=objectivism_peikoff.

11 Corcoran, T. (2012, September 22). Ayn Rand – still the most dangerous woman in America. The Financial Post. Retrieved from http://opinion.financialpost.com/2012/09/22/terence-corcoran-ayn-rand-still-the-most-dangerous-woman-in-america/

12 Wolff, T.B. (2012, August 14) The Virtue of Selfishness – Romney, Ryan and Rand. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tobias-barrington-wolff/the-virtue-of-selfishness_b_1774931.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

13 Goodwin, G.P. & Daley, J.M. (2008). The psychology of meta-ethics: Exploring objectivism. Cognition. 106(3). 1339-1366. Doi http://dx.doi.org.www.msvu.ca:2048/10.1016/j.cognition.2007.06.007