Objectivism and The Fountainhead
How should we live our lives? Do you live for others or for yourself? What do you deem to be the ideal: selflessness, or selfishness? Why? Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead addresses these issues and her philosophy behind it called Objectivism. Her rebellious rhetoric is to convince us that the only true virtue is selfishness and that we should abide by its standards and live for ourselves.
Ayn Rand was from the Soviet Union, and her background helps us to understand her rhetoric about why she preached her philosophy. “Born in Russia, and a hater of the revolution, Ayn Rand dreamed of America as an Eden of individualism. When she got there - becoming first a Cecil B de Mille extra, later a novelist and popular philosopher - she expounded her belief in the sovereignty of the individual” (Romney 1). In America Rand could make something of herself and be known. The Individual is what is important, and she stresses this so much in her novel, using the main character, Howard Roark as perhaps a mirror image of herself. (Actually, it has been stated that Ayn Rand used the prominent architect Frank Lloyd Wright as a model for Howard Roark, which Rand denied (Bierut 2), but personally, I think that Howard Roark is a model of herself). She states throughout her novel that altruism is a false virtue and that selfishness is the key to humankind’s happiness. The Fountainhead depicts excellent rhetorical style for presenting Objectivism. Through her fictional novel about an idealist architect in a conformist world she portrays her philosophy cleanly and clearly. Rand causes the reader to question their own thoughts and actions about how they live.
First, I would like to give greater detail to the philosophy of Objectivism. In an interview with Dina Garmong, a philosophy TA at The University of Texas @ Austin and an Objectivist herself, we find the three key points in Objectivism: The first key point is the Objectivists view of the world. The Objectivist states that this is the only world we can know. It is irrelevant if there is a heaven, or a hell, or life elsewhere. We know what we do through our senses and reason. What we perceive with our senses we know to be real (Garmong). “Existence exists - and the act of grasping that statement implies two corollary axioms: that something exists which one perceive and that one exists possessing consciousness, consciousness being the faculty of perceiving that which exists” (Rand qtd. by Peikoff 1)
The second point addresses the idea that thinking is the path to knowledge. The Objectivist rejects the idea, stated by Plato, that all we know is that we know nothing. Emotions, feelings, and premonitions are not concrete and therefore are rejected as sources of knowledge. Concrete evidence dictates certainty thus rationalizing knowledge (Garmong). The third point is the ethics of Objectivism: rational selfishness and the pursuit of our own happiness. We are the...