To Students of Objectivism
By Thomas M. Miovas, Jr.
Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand, is an integrated system of ideas covering the nature of reality (metaphysics), how the human conscious mind works (epistemology), what one ought to do (ethics), how men should interact with one another in a social context (politics), and the nature of art (aesthetics). Being a philosophy, it is an integrated whole making it one thing in reality – one system of thought. It takes a while to understand this if one has not studied philosophy, but rather has started off with her novels. No part of Objectivism can be torn apart from any other part of her philosophy, and still be a philosophy. If one tried to break it down piecemeal and accepting some but not all of her integrated ideas, then one is not grasping the whole, nor is one an Objectivist. Similarly, if one tries to substitute one aspect of her philosophy with another philosophy or just “common sense”, then one is not an Objectivist.
A great many people read Ayn Rand’s philosophy already having some ideas about the nature of reality and man’s place in it, and hence argue with the points of Objectivism; which is fine, since there is a learning curve, and Objectivism is not a philosophy of commandments handed down from Ayn Rand. However, there are those who do believe that anything goes, so long as they agree with the axioms (existence, identity, and consciousness), and go astray from the philosophy with their own ideas not compatible with Objectivism due to errors of thought.
The primary methodology of Objectivism is objectivity – of remaining logically consistent with the facts of reality, rather than going by one’s emotions or being consistent idea to idea or following mere convention of word usages. It is this going by the facts in a non-contradictory manner (logic) that sets Objectivism apart from other philosophies. And this methodology is celebrated among Objectivists even over disagreements, so long as the disagreements are presented in a logical manner. Though it takes a while to learn how to do this method, Objectivism does encourage rational independence; so long as one is not independent of the facts of reality nor the facts about what Objectivism *is* as presented by Ayn Rand while calling oneself an Objectivist.
If you think you have the facts and reason on your side in a disagreement between you and Miss Rand, Dr. Peikoff, Harry Binswanger, Yaron Brook, or anyone else -- then out with it and prove your case. However, if you are going to claim that Libertarianism (rights based on wants and desires), anarcho-capitalism (competition of governments, which Miss Rand specifically rejected), God (for which there is no evidence), rationalism as an ideal (logic not based on facts), Sophism (using pseudo-logic to justify anything you want to do), modern art ( no content smears on canvas), determinism (which rejects reason is volitional) or any other such thing is compatible with Objectivism, then you need to think it through again. Each of these is either a direct contradiction to what Miss Rand taught *is* Objectivism or does not logically (based on the facts) follow from anything she taught. If you want to hold onto such ideas, you are free to do so, but calling yourself an Objectivist while doing so is to be involved in a contradiction; which should be rejected, one way or the other.