Have you heard of the Novels Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead written by Ayn Rand? I never heard of them until I was into my early twenties. I knew of those novels as gargantuan nine hundred page novels and did not consider myself as an erudite reader capable enough to discern the underlying message conveyed by those novels then. I remember my sister reading those novels and admired her attempting to read those novels. Well than I was in my early twenties and had little interest in readings especially reeking of the obtuse. Years later when I started writing articles in my blog and started exploring the concepts of Philosophy I stumbled upon the philosophy of Objectivism. The novels Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead as I understand preach the tenets of Objectivism. I was never a student of philosophy and I thank my blog for pushing me to understand the various positions taken by great philosophical thinkers from the great Greek philosophers Plato, Socrates, Aristotle and the Indian Philosophers to the modern day thinkers Immanuel Kant and Rene Descartes. Philosophy is such an all-encompassing discipline that its spectrum is as wide to include as diverse viewpoints ranging from politics, science religion and the very question of nature of GOD and the purpose of life. A life spent without pondering these points is a life too banal and hence I view philosophers with such esteem as they spend a good time of their lives thinking about some abstract concepts which a common man would think of a pursuit of a nonsensical nature!
Now it’s about time to do some justice to the discussion on objectivism as I highlighted them in the title of my article. A philosophy which I admit I stumbled upon as I ran out of Ideas to post a new article on my blog. Do you all agree the main goal of a man’s life is Pursuit of his own happiness? If you agree I am afraid you subscribe to the philosophy of objectivism which is deeply rooted in the ethos of Individualism. Now that I have come to the point rather than beating around the bush I will define what Objectivism and Individualism stand for?
Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that emphasizes the moral worth of the individual. Individualists promote the exercise of one’s goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance and advocate that interests of the individual should achieve precedence over the state or a social group, while opposing external interference upon one’s own interests by society or institutions such as the government. Individualism is often contrasted with totalitarianism or collectivism.
Objectivism is a system of philosophy created by philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand (1905–1982) that holds: reality exists independent of consciousness; human beings gain knowledge rationally from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive and deductive logic; the moral purpose of one’s life is the pursuit of one’s own happiness or rational self-interest. Rand thinks the only social system consistent with this morality is full respect for individual rights, embodied in pure laissez faire capitalism; and the role of art in human life is to transform man’s widest metaphysical ideas, by selective reproduction of reality, into a physical form—a work of art—that he can comprehend and to which he can respond emotionally. Objectivism celebrates man as his own hero, “with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute
Let me take it a step further and introduce the concepts of Physiological Egoism and Ethical Egoism. Words too scary for a bystander but full of immense meaning capable of explaining the central philosophy of objectivism and Individualism.
Ethical egoism is the normative ethical position that moral agents ought to do what is in their own self-interest. It differs from psychological egoism, which claims that people can only act in their self-interest. Ethical egoism also differs from rational egoism, which holds that it is rational to act in one’s self-interest. Ethical egoism holds that actions whose consequences will benefit the doer can be considered ethical.
In All the Stated positions Self Interest Reigns Supreme. What type of a society values such type of a philosophy where individual rights are valued much higher than the collective rights of a Society? Heard of capitalism? The system where Individual rights are so sacrosanct that any hint of collectivism is mocked with a sense of derision. I myself am no supporter of collective rights but don’t espouse the philosophy of objectivism and Individualism as human beings are no solitary creatures and are by nature social animals and in the greater good of humanity have to follow an ideology of pursuit of limited happiness not to make the entire world happy but at least some people happy at least some times not if all the time. I just wonder how happy Ayn Ryan was who unabashedly advocated Pursuit of one’s own happiness. In the end I attest it a smile on your kid’s face which makes you happier than a trivial pursuit you undertake in the quest of your own happiness.