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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.

Older Essays

This is Your Mind

Independence Day Special 2005

Copyright Issues Statement

Independence Day Special 2011:

 Jesus or Ayn Rand?

Don't Blame Wall Street

Governments and Individual Rights

Anarcho-Capitalism rebuttal

Doctors and Individual Rights

Internet Freedom VS On-line Piracy

Laws Must be Specific to Preserve Freedom

To Students of Objectivism

Kant as Founder of Modern Art

Thinking in Terms of Principles

The Purpose of Art

On Objectivity -- The Method of Thought

Applications of Philosophy

Happiness by a Proper Standard

Morality and War

Induction and Anarchism

Immigration and Applied Egoism

Independence Day 2012:

  Losing the Battle

On Civil Society

Batman and Justice

Paul Ryan and Objectivism

Philosophy in the Workplace

Articulating Freedom

The Argument for Freedom

Psycho-epistemology

Black Friday Special, The Morality of Profit

Intellectual Property Rights

How The Internet Works

Carnegie Museum of Art and Natural History

The Morality of Copyrights and Patents

Justice

Freedom of Speech -- a Sacred Right

Objective Value

Teleological Measurements

Induction

Causality

Cognition

Ayn Rand as a Moral Hero

Moral Integrity

On Dualism

Protest NSA Spying

The Objectivist Trilogy

The DIM Hypothesis

Tolerance and DIM

Individual Rights

How We Know

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2001 
Converting from Christianity
Thomas M. Miovas, Jr.

Speaking as someone who came to Objectivism after having been Christian -- 
specifically Catholic -- I wouldn't say the staying power of Christianity 
is due primarily to evasion, as some have suggested. I think evasion is 
involved to some degree, but it doesn't come across as a conscious intent 
to avoid knowing reality. Indeed, before I studied Objectivism, I thought 
non-Catholics were the ones evading reality -- and in the context of the 
"cultural revolution" of the sixties and seventies, this was true; the 
subjectivist hippies of the left *were* evading, and so were many of the 
young people I knew at the time who didn't take morality seriously. And I 
think it is the attitude of taking morality seriously that has kept 
Christianity alive even in the United States where one is free to be 
non-Christian without much fear of retribution; and what has led 
Christianity to be the dominant morality in this country.

Christianity presents morality as a life or death issue that is personally 
relevant -- it is *your* soul that will be damned or saved, and by your own 
choice at that. I don't think the other major religions have this aspect of 
free will incorporated into them, which is why they are not as compatible 
(on the surface) with a country of politically free individuals.

Of course, once free will is recognized as being real, guidance is 
necessary -- and Catholicism provides such guidance in abundance, with 
answers to just about every issue thanks to its intellectual history 
brought about by Plato, Augustine, and Aquinas. Unlike many of the other 
religions, Catholicism tries to provide answers in an integrated manner. 
Granted, this is a pseudo-integration (i.e. not based entirely on the facts 
of reality), but as a young inquisitive Catholic, I certainly couldn't come 
up with anything better; and had I not been introduced to Objectivism, 
Thomism would have been the next best thing. You may well ask why not 
become an Aristotelian, and the answer would have been that he didn't 
understand free will, and therefore I would have thought Augustine and 
Aquinas were superior when it came to morality -- because without an 
explicit recognition of free will, there can be no morality. And I think 
this is one reason early Catholicism won out over late paganism.

As to the conversion process, I can tell you from personal experience that 
it is not an easy thing to do. For at least the first ten years of my 
twenty-five plus years of studying Objectivism, _The Virtue of Selfishness_ 
was not a book that I could read without thinking (believing?) that I was 
betraying something in my own soul. This came about because I had to go 
through the process of tearing down all those pseudo-integrations and build 
something better -- and I knew *I* was the one who would have to do it.

This is an awesome responsibility.

Those of you who didn't have to do it have no idea what it takes. I don't 
even think Ayn Rand captured it in the character struggle of Hank Rearden.

Least someone might ask, "Well, once you knew Catholicism was wrong, why 
didn't you simply toss the thing out?" I would answer by asking the counter 
question: "Why don't you simply get a lobotomy and make everything better?"

An accepted and practiced psycho-epistemology is not something you can turn 
off like a switch; in a very real sense this would be like asking someone 
to become an Objectivist without using his mind. It is very difficult to 
question something that deep without coming to the conclusion that your 
mind is not fit to deal with reality; and even though it is true that those 
pseudo-integrations make your mind *not* fit to deal with reality, this is 
a terribly frightening thing to deal with while you are trying to work your 
way back to reason and reality.

I think this is the real basis of the fear potential converts feel when 
confronted by Objectivism -- especially if they are successful in their 
productive lives, because they have pseudo-integrated Christianity with 
their success (in part, I think due to Aquinas). Asking them to toss out 
Christianity comes across to them as asking them to toss out all their 
worldly possessions they have struggled so hard to acquire and maintain. Of 
course, the irony is that this is precisely what Christianity asks them to 
do (at least on the Augustine side), but they have already rejected that.

My personal advise is not to push such people too hard. Had I been 
continuously confronted by Objectivists during my time of conversion, I 
would have told them to go to hell, because I knew it was something I had 
to do by myself and for myself -- but I also knew it had to be done on my 
own time-table. It's definitely worth the struggle, but you can't know that 
until you actually do it; and no one can operate someone else's mind in 
this process.

Part of taking ideas seriously is realizing that an individual mind must be 
the one to do the re-processing of the information provided by the senses 
and by other minds; and peer-pressure should rightfully be disregarded as 
irrelevant.

Matt Sissel Fine Art

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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.