Ayn Rand on Life and Society

By: Lex Healy
Lo and behold, for centuries we have tried to find the pieces to the puzzle called humanity. Dissecting and cutting through intrinsic details to understand ourselves and the people around us. It has been proven to be a very dreary task, nonetheless it has not been left unquestioned. Over the centuries countless number of people have taken it into their own hands to peel open the complexities of mankind.

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle have all used the power of reasoning to contemplate ideas of men and the world he lives in. But as time went on, people became more aware of the use of logic and reasoning, impregnating the world with a new line of thought, bringing about philosophers like Descartes, Locke and Hume who infused their notions into mankind. Then around the 19th century, a new frame of idea emerged with Hermann Hasse's literature which focused on an individual's search for authenticity, self knowledge and spirituality. But what is more fascinating is when another women enters a predominantly male driven culture and puts her idea in the midst society, subjecting it to criticism and scrutiny.

Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum, who is better known as Ayn Rand was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia in 1905. Rand had moved to America in 1925, at that time regarding America as the model of what a nation of free men can be ( I am quite sure the current political situation would beg to differ). She had coined the term objectivism and opened the gates of understanding to a whole new field of philosophy. Regarded as one of the greatest minds in the world today, Rand did not always receive this same celebration. Her novels and essays were considered controversial, not adhering to Catholic ways and has even been called too intellectual. Her novels exude the concepts of objectivism, giving it an air of rarity and brutal truth. When asked what objectivism meant, Rand said, quote "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 reason as his only absolute".
To understand Rand one must first be able to answer this question; How does one lead a rational life in an irrational society? Rand believes that humans loose a sense of self, that they create what is called a "herd mentality". Although Rand is way before our time of mass media and social networks, her idea of the herd mentality still applies. Today, in the 21st century it has never been easier to start a rage of violence or even fear all around the world. Whether we like it or not men prefer to feel accepted rather than stand out like a sore thumb. Resorting to burying their true selfs in the depths of shadows. Rand urges mankind to think, and says that " a man MUST think and act if he is to live the life proper to man" later she goes on to say "Man is a being of volitional consciousness. That which you call your soul or spirit is your consciousness, and that which you call free will is your minds freedom...the choice that controls all the choices you make determines your life and character". Ultimately man is an end in himself!
Rand regards herself as a Romantic Realist and this concept is stunningly interesting. She makes it a point that along with her philosophy, she suffuses Romantic Realism in a way that is simply beautiful and logical at the same time. If one has read her novels, it would be quite obvious how this ideology works. Rand creates characters that will, stay with you forever (I personally swear by this statement). The depth in her characters make them almost flawless and hero-like, as Rand claims " I am a Romantic in the sense that I present men as they ought to be. I am a Realist in the sense that I place them here and now and on this earth". This unique thought process of Rand's may seem like the ordinary need to bring ones fantasy to life, but let me assure you that it is far from that. Behind all this lies the need to create a perfect world, one man would dream and fight to live for. This idea coincides with a quote that seems fit for the occasion "The soul has more need for the ideal than the real" a statement that stands true to Romanticism. In fact the 21st century literature or even movies for that matter has earned its name by being more relatable or more real . More and more people seem to say "I feel ya!" But from the looks of it, we are currently breeding a weak society who has greater depression, drug abuse and mental problems rates than it used to be not 20 years back. We are slowly lacking the motivation and falling into the slump, romanticising misery. The question is where does this lead us?
Seek the minority! A statement strong and true. The truth most definitely does not necessarily lie in great numbers. Here's an analogy, when humankind believed that the earth was as flat as a coin all they needed was one man to shatter that perception. This stands true in the idea of minority. Ayn Rand truly believed that a man willing to walk life alone stands behind a greater ideal. This man is the man who will not conform to social standards. This has to ring bells in people's minds! Who says that we have to live the way we do, or dress the way we do or even eat the way we do? This once again brings us back to the concept of  the "herd mentality". What Rand urges mankind to take a step back, and judge your fellow men. In her words Rand says "Nothing can corrupt and disintegrate a culture or a man’s character as thoroughly as does the precept of moral agnosticism, the idea that one must never pass moral judgment on others, that one must be morally tolerant of anything, that the good consists of never distinguishing good from evil". The best treatment for this as she reckons is to slip away from society, not entirely but momentarily to gain a sense of self and always view the world in ones on true perspective. Judge and judge away, cause scrutiny has been responsible for so many revered names today.
Rand's concepts and ideals are perfectly noble and necessary in our currently ignoble and more than ever flawed society. This long standing ideals have fought time to still lurk in the minds of men, even if not a big majority. I would like to simply say as Rand would have said it in her own famous words "men is an end in himself", the choice is simply in our hands, or should I say, minds.



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