As a lover of philosophy, I have come across countless theories regarding being an ideal. Every theory that I have come across supports socialism and altruism. We have always learned ‘to sacrifice is the foremost religion of humanity’, haven’t we? Live for others and help the ones in need, compromise with situations, understand the needs of people around you and many other “teachings” like these have been instilled in us. However, I do not understand how can we and why do we support altruism when we are not able to find our happiness from it? How can we compromise when we know we are not at any stage to do so? How can we help others, when we are not able to help ourselves? Why does one have to love the world in order to love his/her soul? Why do we need to give something to the society? Why does one have to follow the rules decided by the society? Every soul is an individual, then why do we support collectivism? Every person has their own principles, then why do we need to follow the principles of the society? How can one derive the justification of these principles?
We never bother to get the justification of these principles, we just follow them blindly because we are told to do so. We follow them because we live in the same society. And that makes life a second-hand life. The creator is an individualist. The creator worked alone and he never cared about what the prime mover had to say. The person who invented fire was a creator. An individual makes all the inventions. We the prime movers, always feed ourselves on to the creator. We hate them because we know we are naked in front of him. Naked, in the sense of thoughts, deeds, and actions. We indulge in a race with him, not to win, but to prove that we are superior to him.
This leads us to a question, what can we do? How can one become a creator? How can one become an ideal human being? The answer to this question is in my belief, a wonderful statement made by Ayn Rand, “My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and the reason as his only absolute.” This simply means that the only motto and the only principle of a person’s life are to work for and with his/her soul. The most selfless thing one can do is to strive for his/her own happiness. A soul of a person is a heroic light entity. It’s a symbol of human ego. An individual is responsible for the things happening around him, it is totally in control of how he reacts to it, considering his happiness in the foremost position.
Another question arises here, that working according to this theory, the world might consider us to be selfish human beings, won’t it? Yes, we will be portrayed as selfish human beings. However, to be selfish is the most selfless act of virtue. We will be portrayed as an egotist to the world of the second handers. Nevertheless, the creator himself is an egotist in his own sense.
Ayn Rand named her philosophy “Objectivism” and described it as a philosophy for living on earth. Her theory has always dealt with the abstract principles by which a human can lead an ideal life. She also gave life to her principles in her best-selling novels, The Fountainhead(1943) and The Atlas Shrugged(1957). She presented her theory by dividing it into 4 basic principles:
- Metaphysics: Nature allows no vacuum. It must be obeyed.
- Epistemology: Reason.
- Ethics: A human is an end in himself. (Self-interest)
- Politics: an individual possesses the freedom to follow his soul and if he is not allowed to do that, grant him right to die.
These principles of her theory can be summarized as follows:
1. Metaphysics: the external world exists upon its own rules and it is independent of man’s fear, consciousness and his perceptions. It states that Facts should remain as facts and they cannot be démodé according to any individuals or group’s perception. We can’t démodé the fact that the sun rises in the east or B comes after alphabet A. Nature runs on its predefined rules and it allows no vacuum. It declines the idea of any belief in the supernatural.
- Epistemology: Man’s reason has the ability to know the facts of reality. The reason is the only teacher that can identify and integrate the material provided by man’s senses. Thus, Objectivity rejects any acceptance of feeling as a means of knowledge and it rejects skepticism.
- Human Nature: It states that man is a rational being and reason as man’s only means of knowledge, his basic means of survival. It states that the soul or spirit, whatever we call is our consciousness and “free will” which we call as our freedom. This is what we call as choices and that determines our life. Thus, Objectivism rejects the belief that man is a victim of any forces, i.e. societal rules, god, upbringing genes or economic conditions.
- Ethics: Here the theory rejects any form of altruism. It explains three basic fundamentals that are reason, purpose, and self-esteem which states Rationality as man’s basic virtue. If we elaborate the above statement, it explains that every man is an end in himself and not a means to end of others. Every man must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others or vice versa. Every man must work for his self-interest and his happiness as his moral purpose. In this way, he can judge his values and can be his own guide to his actions.
- Politics: Objectivism here rejects fascism or socialism. It states that no man has any right to seek the freedom of any individual by means of any forces. Man possesses the right to force only for his self-defense and only against those who initiates its use. Either grant him liberty or give him death.
- Aesthetics: Ayn Rand stated that the foremost purpose of art is the concretion of the artist’s fundamental view of existence. The goal of the philosopher was to portray men as they ought to be and in an artistic way not as didactic. Her purpose, first causes, and the prime mover is the portrayal of Howard Roark Or John Galt or Hank Rearden or Francisco d’Anconcia as an end in himself- not as a means to any further end.
Her theory lived even after her death and inspired many people to live or make an attempt to live as an ideal. It doesn’t matter what they are in society and what matters is how a man lives. Her theory of objectivism is a tribute to her as an immortal soul.