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Writings based on Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand's most popular novels are Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, which present her philosophy, Objectivism, in vivid characterizations.

  Metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, esthetics, and  politics are the five main branches of philosophy that she identifies. Utilizing her methodology, one can be rational about all aspects of life. These essays present my understanding of Objectivism.

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This is Your Mind

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Laws Must be Specific to Preserve Freedom

To Students of Objectivism

Kant as Founder of Modern Art

Thinking in Terms of Principles

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On Objectivity -- The Method of Thought

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Happiness by a Proper Standard

Morality and War

Induction and Anarchism

Immigration and Applied Egoism

Independence Day 2012:

  Losing the Battle

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Carnegie Museum of Art and Natural History

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Freedom of Speech -- a Sacred Right

Objective Value

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Cognition

Ayn Rand as a Moral Hero

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On Dualism

Protest NSA Spying

The Objectivist Trilogy

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Tolerance and DIM

Individual Rights

How We Know

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Date: Mon, 07 Oct 2002 
The Concept "Reason" revisited
Thomas M. Miovas, Jr.

William Brahm wrote:

> As a lifelong Objectivist I've always been uneasy
> about the definition AR gives for "reason": the
> faculty that identifies and integrates the material
> provided by man's senses. This definition, on my
> view, would apply to ALL animals because it refers
> to perception while pointedly excluding concept-
> formation.

I think Harry brought up some good points regarding the difference between 
perceptual integration, which some higher-level animals have, and 
conceptual integration, which only man has; but I think Ayn Rand came up 
with her precise formulation of the definition of the term "reason" for a 
purpose other than differentiating animals from man. I think she came up 
with that formulation to cut off those philosophers claiming that any form 
of mysticism or emotionalism is a form of reason. In other words, I think 
it is part of her process of differentiating Objectivism from Intrinsicism 
and Subjectivism.

<HB: A valid point.>

In this light, I might even go so far as saying she intentionally left 
concept formation out of the definition explicitly to further ground the 
faculty of reason to the organic nature of consciousness as man's only 
means of survival qua man; in a sense as an expanded form of animal 
perception and consciousness (for those animals that possess it). In other 
words, the purpose of human consciousness is to guide one's manner of 
living on earth according to the perceptually evident facts, as opposed to 
striving for mystical insights for which there are no factual basis or 
acting according to emotional outbursts for which there may or may not be a 
factual basis.

Keep in mind that the philosopher whom Ayn Rand held to be the most evil 
philosopher of all time was not someone who said that man is nothing more 
than an brutish animal but rather someone who said that reason is 
transcendental to perceptual evidence, Immanuel Kant.

I was going to look up a precise quote of the definition of the term 
"reason" in Kant's works, but, alas, there is no index in either of my 
books by him, so I turned to the Internet. I found a web site that actually 
mapped out all the definitions in Kant and how they are interrelated.

"Pure reason" (i.e. the highest form of reason) is defined as: that which 
contains the principles whereby we know anything absolutely *a priori*; the 
term "a priori" is defined as: knowledge that is independent of experience 
and the senses.

According to Kant, the highest form of reason in man is that which is based 
on no facts at all.

What Ayn Rand wanted to do, and what I think she accomplished 
superlatively, was to ground reason -- including it's highest abstractions 
-- firmly to the perceptually self-evident; that is, she firmly grounded 
reason to the facts.

As a measure of how Kantians respond to Ayn Rand's grasp of the nature of 
reason, one of my college associates was from Germany and a thorough 
Kantian who was quite capable of having friendly conversations with me on 
almost any topic; however, once I began stressing that reason must be 
factually based on the evidence of man's senses, he was so shocked that he 
didn't know how to deal with me -- I mean, it was like he suddenly 
discovered that I was from some strange contra-universe totally alien to 
anything he had ever expected to encounter in his lifetime.

And that is precisely why Ayn Rand defined "reason" as "the faculty that 
identifies and integrates the material provided by man's senses."

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Thomas M. Miovas, Jr.

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Proud to be an Objectivist -- one who follows Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism: I've earned it.