History ETDs

Publication Date



Ayn Rand feels that the world has fallen into the errors of irrationalism. This has left us almost totally bankrupt of any meaningful cultural values. This irrationalism, or abandonment of reason for emotions, has left man wholly out of touch with reality. The irrational syndrome that Miss Rand describes starts with mysticism, or man's irrational metaphysics and epistemology. The first derivative of mysticism is altruism; it mirrors man's irrational personal ethics. After altruism comes collectivism, or man's irrational social ethic. The final stage of this syndrome is statism, man's irrational socio-economic system. Ayn Rand's answer to the world's renunciation of reason is her system of Objectivism. Completely antithetical to the irrationalism about us, the Objectivist metaphysics posits a world of reality; the Objectivist epistemology posits a world in which reason allows man to discover a moral code of behavior in the "real" world. The Objectivist ethics provides the rules for proper human relations and calls for self-interest, selfishness, integrity, pride, and happiness. Capitalism, the socio-economic system of Objectivism, is the personification of Objectivism. The major supplementary concepts of the Objectivist system are Miss Rand's pronouncements on atheism, racism, art, and the virtue of the businessman-industrialist. Some topical issues which also afford us some insight into how one might apply the tenets of Objectivism are: military conscription, student unrest, the Vietnam War, conservatives, intellectuals, the Peace Corps, and the state of American politics. The major shortcomings in Ayn Rand's thought are her narrowness of perspective, lack of contact with the world about her, and the internal inconsistencies which she attempts to uphold. Ayn Rand's critics either do not fully grasp her system or do not describe it in any more than a superficial fashion. If one is to understand Ayn Rand it is mandatory to read first what she has written rather than what critics have written about her.

Level of Degree


Degree Name


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Gerald David Nash

Second Committee Member

Walter Warren Wagar

Third Committee Member

Henry Jack Tobias

Fourth Committee Member

William Miner Dabney



Document Type


Included in

History Commons