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  Wikipedia: Ayn Rand

Wikipedia: Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Ayn Rand (Ayn rhymes with "mine") (February 2, 1905 - March 6, 1982), born Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum, was a controversial American philosopher and novelist, most famous for her philosophy of Objectivism.


US postage stamp honoring Rand (1999)

Ayn Rand was born to Jewish parents in Saint Petersburg, Russia. She studied philosophy and history at the University of Petrograd. In 1925 at age 21, she was granted a visa to visit with American relatives. After a brief stay with them in Chicago, she resolved never to return to the USSR and set out for Los Angeles to become a screenwriter. At that time,she changed her name to Ayn Rand, partly to avoid Soviet retaliation against her family for her anti-socialist views.

Initially, Rand struggled in Hollywood and took odd jobs to pay her basic expenses. While working as a Hollywood extra on Cecil B. DeMille's King of Kings she bumped into (on purpose) an aspiring young actor, Frank O'Connor, and married him in 1929.

Her first literary success came with the sale of her screenplay Red Pawn in 1932 to Universal Studios. Rand subsequently wrote the play, The Night of January 16th in 1934 and published two novels, We The Living [1] (1936), and Anthem [1] (1938).

Rand's first major success came with the best-selling novel The Fountainhead [1] (1943). The manuscript for this book was difficult to get into print. It was initially taken from publisher to publisher collecting rejection slips as it went before it was picked up by the Bobbs-Merrill Company publishing house. The book was so successful that the royalties and movie rights made Rand famous and financially secure.

In 1947, as a "friendly witness" for the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Rand warned against Communist propagandists in Hollywood [1]. Rand's testimony involved analysis of the 1943 film Song of Russia. Rand testified that the movie grossly misrepresented the socioeconomic conditions in the Soviet Union. She told the committee that the film presented Russia as if it were an amazing paradise of comfort, beauty and plenty for everybody. However, she said, in reality the conditions of the average Russian peasant farmer were appalling. Apparently this 1943 film was intentional wartime propaganda by US patriots. The movie was, at the time, intended to provide comfort to the US public during the American-Soviet alliance during World War II. After the HUAC hearings, when Ayn Rand was asked about her feelings on the effectiveness of their investigations, she described the process as "futile."

Rand's political views were extremely anti-communist, anti-state, and pro-capitalist. A strong conservative, her writings praised the "heroic" American values of independence and individuality. Her fiction writings often told stories of educated, successful Americans who found their lives unfairly burdened with the hassles of taxation, bureaucracy and other forms of heavy-handed government interference. Rand also had a strong dislike for organized religon and charity, both of which she believed helped foster a culture of guilt in successful people.

In the early 1950s Rand moved to New York. She was a visiting lecturer at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (1960), Princeton University, New Jersey (1960), Columbia University, New York (1960, 1962), The University of Wisconsin (1961), Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore (1961), Harvard University, Cambridge (1962), and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge (1962).

In 1951 Rand met the young psychology student Nathaniel Branden [1], who had read her book The Fountainhead at the age of 14. Branden, now 19, enjoyed discussing Rand's emerging Objectivist philosophy with her. Branden's relationship with Rand eventually took on romantic aspects, though they were both married at the time.

Rand published the book described as her "magnum opus", Atlas Shrugged [1] in 1957. This book, as with The Fountainhead also became a best seller. According to a joint survey [1] conducted in 1991 by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club, Atlas Shrugged is recognized as the "second most influential book for Americans today", after The Bible by numerous authors. It is also named as one of the "25 books that have most shaped readers lives" in a 19951996 list developed with the theme "Shape Your Future—READ!" Along with Branden, Rand launched the Objectivist movement to promote her philosophy, which she termed Objectivism.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Rand developed and promoted her Objectivist philosophy through both her fiction [1] and non-fiction [1] works.

Rand broke with Branden in 1968.

Ayn Rand died on March 6, 1982 and was interred in the Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, New York.

Legacy

The Ayn Rand Institute, Center for the Advancement of Objectivism [1] has since registered the name Ayn Rand as a trademark, despite Ayn Rand's desire that her name never be used to promote the philosophy she developed. During her life Ayn Rand expressed her wishes to keep her name and the philosopy of Objectivism separate. It is understood that this was in order to assure the continued survival of the philosophy she developed once her own life was over.

Leonard Peikoff [1] is Rand's sole heir, and as such, he inherited her copyrights and manuscripts. He calls himself her "intellectual heir", and it is widely but falsely believed that she gave him that title, intending him to be an official leader of the Objectivist movement after her death. While he claims to be promoting and naturally extending her philosophies, some scholars see him as espousing his own philosophy, one that some argue Rand herself may not have agreed with were she still alive.

In 1989, a schism in the movement occurred. Objectivist David Kelley wrote an article called "A Question of Sanction," [1] in which he defended his choice to speak to non-Objectivist libertarian groups. Kelley said that Objectivism was not a "closed system" and condoned tolerance of and intellectual debate with other philosophies. Peikoff, in an article for The Intellectual Activist called "Fact and Value" [1], said that Objectivism is, in fact, closed and that factual truth and moral goodness are intrinsically related. Peikoff essentially expelled Kelley from the Objectivist movement, and Kelley founded The Institute for Objectivist Studies (now known as The Objectivist Center [1]) in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Quotes:

  • "Man - every man - is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others; he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his rational self-interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life."

References (external links as numbered above)

  1. We the Living
  2. Anthem
  3. The Fountainhead
  4. Ayn Rand's HUAC Testimony
  5. Nathaniel Branden
  6. Atlas Shrugged
  7. The 1991 Library of Congress and Book of the Month Club Joint Survey
  8. Ayn Rand's Fiction
  9. Ayn Rand's Non-Fiction
  10. The Ayn Rand Institute, Center for the Advancement of Objectivism
  11. Leonard Peikoff
  12. "A Question of Sanction"
  13. '''"Fact and Value"
  14. The Objectivist Center

Additional external links


  

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