Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Jamwhite

Reason as man's only Absolute

2 posts in this topic

I pulled this quote from the Ayn Rand CDRom. It is listed as "About the Author" in Atlas Shrugged, but it is quoted as a direct quote from Ayn Rand.

My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.

I have heard this statement for years now, but I have never understood the last part. The reason that I bring this up though is that while reading "The Cult of Moral Grayness" in Virtue of Selfishness. I found this following quote, "Both [the cult of uncertainty and the cult of moral grayness] are a revolt against the absolutism of reality."

From Objectivism the Philosophy of Ayn Rand under the section "The Metaphysically Given as Absolute": (The italics are mine)

Let us focus now on the metaphysically given. As soon as one says about any such fact: "It is"—just that much—the whole Objectivist metaphysics is implicit. If the fact is, it is what it is (the law of identity). It is lawful, inherent in the identities of the relevant entities (the law of causality). It is independent of consciousness, of anyone's or everyone's beliefs and feelings (the primacy of existence). Such a fact has to be; no alternative to it is possible. If such a fact is, then, within the relevant circumstances, it is immutable, inescapable, absolute. "Absolute" in this context means necessitated by the nature of existence and, therefore, unchangeable by human (or any other) agency.

QUOTE]

Can someone please clarify what "reason as his only absolute" mean?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Can someone please clarify what "reason as his only absolute" mean?

"Absolute" has two applications. One is metaphysical (ontological): facts are facts, regardless of our wishes. The other is epistemological: a principle applies without exception, in a given context.

When Ayn Rand says that reason is her only absolute, she means it is her only authority.

Reason is my absolute (authority) in the sense that I will, on principle, use only reason to understand reality (facts) and to decide what to do about it (values). What are the alternatives to reason as a final authority? God, The Voice of the People, and Feelings are common ones. Many individuals try to combine all these "authorities."

See "Absolutes" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon for examples of absolutes in external reality and in one's thinking (especially in ethics). See Leonard Peikoff, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, pp. 23-26 (on "The Metaphysically Given as Absolute") and 173-175 (on absolutes in reason) for his interpretation of absolutes in Ayn Rand's philosophy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0