Ayn Rand on Principles & Values



Art communicates moral ideas instead of just theory

There is a strong relationship between entertainment and a culture's overall values. Movies, music, and books are a leading indicator of where a society is going, or a reaction to what a society has become. There is a definite correlation between how we portray ourselves and the values we hold.

"Art is the indispensable medium for the communication of a moral ideal. This does not mean that art is a substitute for philosophical thought: without a conceptual theory, an artist would not be able successfully to concretize an image of the ideal. But without the assistance of art, ethics remains in the position of theoretical engineering: art is the model-builder."

-Ayn Rand, the Romantic Manifesto

Source: Tea Party Patriots, by M.Meckler & J.B.Martin, p.180 , Feb 14, 2012

I'm an atheist; religion is from man's mind,not supernatural

"[There is one] possibly misleading sentence in Roark's speech: 'From this simplest necessity to the highest religious abstraction, everything we are and everything we have comes from a single attribute of man--the function of his reasoning mind.' This could be misinterpreted to mean an endorsement of religion or religious ideas. Roark's and my atheism, as well as the overall spirit of the book, were clear, particularly since I said that religious abstractions are the product of man's mind, not of supernatural revelation." [Quoted from writings in 1968, about 'The Fountainhead']
Source: The Ayn Rand Lexicon, by Harry Binswanger, p.414-415 , Jan 1, 1986

Christianity causes civil war because it requires altruism

There is a great, basic contradiction in the teachings of Jesus. Jesus was one of the first great teachers to proclaim the basic principle of individualism--the inviolate sanctity of man's soul, and the salvation of one's soul as one's highest goal. But when it came to a code of ethics--what must one do in actual practice in order to save one's soul?--Jesus gave men a code of altruism. This means, the subordination of one's soul to the desires or needs of others.

This is a contradiction that cannot be resolved. This is why men have never succeeded in applying Christianity in practice, while they have preached it in theory for 2,000 years. The reason of their failure was not men's natural depravity or hypocrisy, which is the superficial (and vicious) explanation usually given. The reason is that a contradiction cannot be made to work. That is why the history of Christianity has been a continuous civil war--both literally (between sects and nations), and spiritually (within each man's soul).

Source: Letters of Ayn Rand, p.287, "Sylvia Austin," by Ayn Rand , Jul 9, 1946

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Page last updated: Apr 30, 2021