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Ayn Rand & Objectivism June 12, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Magick & Mystery, Mindfulness, Writing & Writers.

Last week, we watched a fascinating documentary about Ayn Rand ~ the author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

Here’s her philosophy in a nutshell:

And in a slightly larger shell:

To learn more:  Discover Ayn Rand

While I think that Ayn Rand makes some good points, I’m not convinced that Reason is all we have or all we need to make our way in the world.

At times, I’ve known the unknowable, convincing me that there is a vast cosmic web of connection that we tap into with our intuition rather than our intellect.

I also am persuaded that there is more to Reality than meets the eye.

Frankly, I’m surprised Ayn didn’t ever wonder at the unique synchronicity that brought her together with her husband of 50 years ~ Frank O’Connor.

From Ayn Rand ~ A Sense of Life:

* Ayn first saw Frank on a bus and “knew” it was “him.”

* He got off at the same stop and they ended up on the same set location for the filming of “King of Kings.”

* The next day, Ayn positioned herself during filming so that Frank would step on her foot and have to apologize.

* Being a gentleman, he did.

* That was his last day on the set. They hadn’t exchanged numbers and Central Casting wouldn’t give her his number.

* Nevertheless, Ayn “knew” their paths would cross again . . . and they did.

* Early for a meeting in a department store at Hollywood and Vine, Ayn wandered around the corner to the public library, walked in, and saw Frank reading a magazine.  When he saw her, he got up, and they went outside to “start their courtship.”

If Objective Reason and Reality are all we have at our disposal, we must of necessity conclude that her “knowing” and their serendipitous meeting were mere coincidence.

Nothing more than dumb luck.

I don’t believe that.

Do you?

Aah . . . that’s better!

Have you read Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead?  What did you think?

Related posts: Winks, Whispers, and Nudges *  The Gift of Synchronicity * Synchronicity & Mystery * A Beacon in the Dark * Way of the Peaceful Warrior * I Don’t Know Where I’m Going * Divine Inspiration in Unlikely Place


1. Silver in the Barn - June 12, 2014

“Atlas Shrugged” – first in my twenties and then in my forties. Always a kick to discover how much a book has changed (surely it couldn’t be me?) over twenty years. Anyway, I admire the book tremendously and aim to pick it up again in my sixties.

nrhatch - June 12, 2014

Thanks, Barbara. Your comment reminds me of this quote:

No man steps into the same river twice ~ for it is not the same river and he is not the same man. ~ Heraclitus

I expect Atlas Shrugged will have morphed again by next read. 😎

2. Judson - June 12, 2014

Nancy … I have read “Atlas Shrugged”, and I have strong opinions regarding the philosophy behind the narrative. But, it’s tough to discuss this book without without political/religious rancor. At least that’s been my experience. Those who like it, really like it and those who hate it really hate it. I haven’t found much gray area.

nrhatch - June 12, 2014

Judging from the documentary, it’s not just that book that creates a dichotomy of fans and foes, Judson. What a controversial figure, especially for that time and place.

Whatever Fountainhead she sprang from, it gave her strength.

3. suzicate - June 12, 2014

Much more than dumb luck in my opinion!
Atlas Shrugged, both one and two are on Netflix…the hubby watched them and has wanted me to watch them but I haven’t gotten around to them yet. I admit I also haven’t read the book though I’ve found quotes by Ayn that I’ve liked enough to repeat now and then.

nrhatch - June 12, 2014

I watched Atlas Shrugged Part I . . . and got side-tracked before watching Part II. After watching the documentary on her life, I would like to read the book.

Judson - June 12, 2014

Yes, do read the book. The film adaptation has been frustrating to say the least. I’ve never heard of using a feature film format to produce what is in essence a mini-series. And the installments thus far have been produced so slowly that the cast has completely changed in the interim. Of course, the authors radical philosophy and the nature of the story ensured that major Hollywood stars would not want to be involved. It should have been done all at once on TV as a regular mini-series rather than drawing it out for years on the big screen for no particular reason. There is a reason why the movie was discussed and planned for half a century, but never made.

nrhatch - June 12, 2014

Thanks, Judson. Now I remember WHY I got sidetracked before watching Part II. I decided to wait until the series was finished (if that ever happens) before investing more time.

I think the book is the way to go ~ for sure it will be closer to Ayn Rand’s thoughts than a movie adaptation.

4. Pix Under the Oaks - June 12, 2014

Intuition is BIG for me! BIG!!!

nrhatch - June 12, 2014

Same here, Pix. There are times that I’ve known the unknowable which are impossible to explain via logic and reason.

5. Don - June 12, 2014

I think it was right that the Enlightenment championed human reason. Our world view was dominated by a religious perspective that was essentially anti reason, superstitious and highly dogmatic. However the scale tipped and we entered the realms of Scientism. I’m with you Nancy. Reason in spite of its ascendency is also limited in its ability to grasp reality.

nrhatch - June 12, 2014

Yes! Well put, Don. Logic and Reason assist us in interpreting Reality . . . but there seems to be something more “behind the veil” that cannot be explained or understood through Logic and Reason standing alone.

Being open to Intuition and Inner Wisdom gives us a wider view of the wonders of the world.

Don - June 12, 2014

When you speak of intuition and inner wisdom Nancy, are you leaving intellect and reason out of it, or do you see it as all working together towards deeper insight and understanding? Do you think there are times when intuition singularly runs out front and discerns without any connection to rationality? Does this also happen with reason? Are there things that can only be known by both separately, or do they have to work together? Is it a kind of dance of separation and connection? Just thinking out aloud. 🙂

nrhatch - June 12, 2014

Well . . . it depends. 😎

My first experience with “intuitive knowing” had NOTHING to do with logic and reason. I just KNEW that X was true without reference to anything else.

The experience of intuitive knowingness has happened on many occasions since ~> some of which are discussed in the links to this post. Others could be found by selecting the category “Synchronicity & Mystery.”

Other times, it’s more subtle ~ a bouncing back and forth from left brain logic to right brain intuition.

Sometimes they work in tandem. Other times one takes the lead. For example:


nrhatch - June 12, 2014
Don - June 13, 2014

Thanks for your extensive response Nancy. Enjoyed the posts. Very good.

nrhatch - June 13, 2014

Thanks for some great questions, Don. I love visiting the issue of synchronicity and mystery.

6. Val Boyko - June 12, 2014

I like your reasoning Nancy! … and pointing out how something beyond reason was at work to bring Ann and Frank together. Nicely done 🙂
I think I would have been drawn to this philosophy when I was younger. Just as I was drawn to Humanism. The focus on an individual being the best they can be and supporting fellow humans in this … without reliance on religion or recognizing a higher consciousness.
This has changed with life experience .. and a new sense of wonder about what is beyond our selfish self.
Great post 🙂
Val x

nrhatch - June 12, 2014

Your thoughts mirror my own, Val. In my 20’s and 30’s, I expect I would have embraced Objectivism with whole heart. Since then, my perspective has shifted and expanded from “what you see is what you get” to “there’s more to this world than meets the eye.”

Still, I found her strength and conviction captivating.

7. ericjbaker - June 12, 2014

The comment thread of a blog post may not be the ideal venue for me to offer a substantive response, so I’ll just say I do not believe in anything supernatural or mystical. Beyond the issue in question, I find the cult of Ayn Rand bizarre. For a bunch of people who espouse individualism, the way her followers practically deify her is creepy. They’ve got “we are the chosen ones” written all over them. I’m not a fan, in case you can’t tell.

nrhatch - June 12, 2014

But what do you really think? 😎

Your comment raises an interesting point: Perhaps her followers need something more than THIS to believe in . . . so they’ve raised Ayn onto a deity dais?

ericjbaker - June 12, 2014

It works the same way on North Korea. They take away God and replace him/her with themselves in the eyes of the people. Plus, I find her views on Native Americans disgusting (basically, they are filthy savages who aren’t sophisticated enough to develop the concept of property ownership, so why shouldn’t we (i.e., white people) take the land? She was also opposed to the Civil Rights Act and pretty much anything else that challenged white European hegemony.

nrhatch - June 12, 2014

If her views are as you describe, I disagree with her views on Native Americans and Civil Rights too.

I’d probably disagree with her on the issue of Animal Rights as well.

nrhatch - June 12, 2014

By the way, I did not believe in the “mystical realm” either, until I experienced it in my own life in ways that were impossible to ignore.

ericjbaker - June 12, 2014

This is not a refutation of your personal experience because your reality is yours, and it’s not my place to question it (Einstein proved that reality is quite subjective). In general terms, though, I believe that if an event or experience is evaluated rationally, it is always explainable. Anecdotes are not evidence. Ann meeting Frank on the bus might seem like some sort of destiny, but we’re taking her word for it that she didn’t see a different man the week before at the coffee shop and think he could be the one. For all we know, she thought the guy in the coffee shop was incredibly attractive, but she forgot about him once she met Frank (yes, I know this is a straw man argument, but I’m speaking hypothetically). The point is, if she didn’t take the bus that day and never met Frank, she would very likely have met someone else on a different day and fallen in love with that person. Strong feelings do not equal evidence of cosmic connection. People are inclined toward strong feelings.

Whether we believe a god is listening to our personal prayers or that some supernatural force is intervening in our lives to shape our destinies, I think we are being a bit narcissistic. The all-powerful being who created the entire universe still cares about what I think and want and has a specific plan in mind for me? To believe that, I am probably over-inflating my cosmic importance by a factor of about a trillion.

See, I’m just getting started and have to stop now!

ericjbaker - June 12, 2014

Oh yeah… intuition is pattern recognition. That’s why it gets better with age. More patterns to recgnize.

I’m no fun, am I?


nrhatch - June 12, 2014

I agree with you about knowing that Frank was “the one” ~ she might have convinced herself of that “after the fact.” Hindsight is 20/20 after all.

But she felt comfortable describing the experience as “confident knowingness” . . . that seems at odds with the totality of her philosophy.

It seemed an inherent contradiction in terms.

nrhatch - June 12, 2014

I also concur that some intuition might be “pattern recognition” but that would not explain how I intuited a winning lottery ticket number the ONE time I’ve bought a lottery ticket:


Or how I knew the answer to a question on Jeopardy before the clue was revealed:


I have NO Rational or Logical explanation for these examples of synchronicity and mystery. If you do, please share. 😎

elizabeth2560 - June 12, 2014

Well these comments and following-up on references took me on a journey for an hour or two. Most enlightening. Thanks for the ride.

nrhatch - June 12, 2014

Thanks for joining us, Elizabeth. I love posts like this that spark reasoned (and intuitive) debate! 😎

ericjbaker - June 12, 2014

Nancy is masterful at posting topics that invite discussion. If we were all on her porch in Florida, sipping margaritas and ejoying the weather, this conversation would probably go on for hours. Or at least until she kicked us out because it was bedtime.

elizabeth2560 - June 14, 2014

Ah!. Florida. I can picture it now.

nrhatch - June 12, 2014

Yes! C’mon down and I’ll mix up a pitcher of Margaritas!

8. Carol Balawyder - June 12, 2014

A few weeks ago I attended a workshop on how to trust our intuition. Rand’s philosophy does not take account of this aspect of human nature. My philosophy tends to weight more on the side that there is much that is still unknown to mankind and reason cannot explain everything.
Rand’s theory of objectivism states that altruism is evil but the definition (in the short video) is that selfishness means to realize your highest potential and respecting others. That’s not how I define selfishness.
I do agree with Rand’s statement that if you have one life to live then make the most of it. I also think this applies regardless of having only one life to live.

nrhatch - June 12, 2014

I’m with you, Carol. I found the documentary fascinating without buying into all of her notions. I appreciated the fact that she lived her life as she saw fit, without worrying overmuch about whether others agreed or disagreed with her. In the current climate of political correctness, I found that “refreshing.”

Her definition of selfishness must be accepted at face value to understand why she believes we should be selfish with our time and talents. That’s not to say that other definitions of selfishness aren’t valid in other contexts.

And I definitely sense there is much about life that is hidden from view. Not a paternalistic god sitting on a throne, but a collective web of energy that allows us to know what we could not access through reason and logic and objective reality alone.

Carol Balawyder - June 13, 2014

I subscribe to tarogold.com – a daily wisdom site and this was in my inbox the other day:

Intuition transcends the limitations of reason.

Have a great weekend. 🙂

nrhatch - June 13, 2014

Thanks, Carol. I agree with that quote. Reason and logic have limitations, especially since we tend to see the world “behind our eyes” based on the experiences we’ve had in life ~ we don’t always see things as they are because “we” get in the way.

Intuition can transcend those limitations ~ allowing us to make quantum leaps along the path.

9. William D'Andrea - June 12, 2014

There are more things in Heaven and on Earth, than can be dreamed of, in any infinite number of human philosophies.

nrhatch - June 12, 2014

True dat! As a Philosophy major in college, I’ve yet to stumble across a Philosophy that encompasses all of the questions, much less the answers.

10. http://theenglishprofessoratlarge.com - June 12, 2014

Poor Any Rand, so trapped by her own philosophy of “Me, first,” that she missed a whole other world of intuition and love. She was, indicated by her betrayal of one of her most loyal supporters, mean-spirited and vindictive. That kind of behavior, according to her condemnation of altruism, was to be expected. Perhaps she is more to be pitied than censured.

nrhatch - June 12, 2014

After watching the documentary, I’m not persuaded that she missed out on love ~ her 50 year marriage seemed strong despite a short bout of infidelity. Her connection to Frank seemed one of true partnership, not that of leader and follower.

Her reasons for condemning altruism are based on her upbringing in a socialist country. Since her experiences there flavored her life, I’m not surprised by her vehemence.

There’s probably more to Ayn Rand than meets the public eye.

11. Jill Weatherholt - June 12, 2014

I’ve never read any of her books, Nancy, but I sure enjoyed reading your conversation with Eric! 🙂

nrhatch - June 12, 2014

Me too! Eric and I do not always agree (on things like synchronicity, mystery, cupcakes, and Godzilla), but we’ve yet to become disagreeable about our disagreements.

ericjbaker - June 12, 2014

Wait a minute! Cupcakes?

We might have a problem.


nrhatch - June 12, 2014

My favorite cupcake is Orange Creme . . . what’s yours?

Jill Weatherholt - June 12, 2014

When Eric makes an appearance a lively exchange and laughter are guaranteed. 🙂
So what month works best for you for our visit? 🙂

nrhatch - June 12, 2014

We’re pretty flexible, Jill. But if I lived up north, I’d enjoy YOUR SUMMER there and head down here during the winter months when you’ve had enough snow, ice, and chilly weather and are ready to “hit the beach” and enjoy some umbrella drinks.

12. jannatwrites - June 12, 2014

I’m not familiar with her writing, but I do think our lives are more than chance occurrences.

nrhatch - June 12, 2014

That’s certainly been my experience, Janna. There is much to be said for logic, reason, and rationality, but I’ve found that being open to mystery adds an interesting dimension to life.

13. ashokbhatia - June 12, 2014

No…it is more about heart and intuition. I think she appeals to us at the mind plane.

nrhatch - June 12, 2014

I found her life story fascinating from first to last ~ her upbringing in Russia, her fascination with cinema and city skylines, her emigration to the U.S., her start in the film industry, her career as a writer, and the philosophy she applied as a backdrop to it all.

ashokbhatia - June 12, 2014

So very true. Thanks for the lovely post!

nrhatch - June 12, 2014

Thanks for chiming in! This has been a lively exchange of viewpoints on one of my favorite topics ~ reality and surreality.

14. colonialist - June 12, 2014

I was ‘into’ Ayn Rand so long ago that I have forgotten most of it. However, on the reality side it seems pretty clear that coincidence and synchronicity and all that jazz are seen too often to put it down to mere random happenings in an unplanned, uncontrolled universe. Seems far more likely that there is a ‘destiny which shapes our ends’, call it what you will.

nrhatch - June 12, 2014

I agree, Col. I do believe that we have tremendous influence over our “destiny” but that our connection to the cosmic web helps us realize our intentions if we tune in and listen.

BFF was not a “believer” in synchronicity and the still silent voice within until he was headed into an intersection and heard, “STOP!” He looked to his right and saw a pickup barreling down on the intersection with no plans on stopping.

A few days later, while shopping for a specific style of shirt, he had given up and was headed for the exit. He heard his intuition say, “turn right.” There, against the wall, he found a clearance rack with the exact shirt he wanted. On sale.

After those two incidents, he stopped scoffing at me. 😎

I don’t think everything is mapped out in advance. What I do believe is that when we tap into the collective conscious we have access to information that is beyond logic and reason.

And the “knowingness” that surfaces is so certain that we can follow it to meet people we need to meet, read books we need to read, investigate avenues we need to explore. etc.

15. diannegray - June 13, 2014

I haven’t read her book – but I really want to sit on the porch and drink Margaritas with you and Eric. What a captivating conversation 😀

I watched both videos and she is certainly a great believer in her philosophy on life. Having said that, I’m a believer in those who search for truth and the meaning of life, but don’t necessarily trust or want to follow those who profess to have ‘found it’.

nrhatch - June 13, 2014

Yes! Join us for margaritas, Dianne. As much fun as blogging is, it’s not like a open give and take face-to-face.

And I agree with you . . . Hitler professed to have found it, but he had missed a few turns along the way.

16. Tammy - June 13, 2014

I don’t believe it is dumb luck. I do agree with her that we need to make the most of this life but I don’t like the rigid boundaries that she drew around it. I have learned to be okay with the questions that I can’t understand.

nrhatch - June 13, 2014

Yes! I think her greatest shortcoming was her rigidity. She found a philosophy that worked for her early in life and stuck with it rather than allowing it the flexibility to continue to bend and change as she proceeded along the path.

As a result she had internal inconsistencies between her professed beliefs and her actual beliefs (as revealed by her actions).

17. Jo Anne Simson - June 13, 2014

Nancy, I so agree with you about Ayn Rand. While I agree that Reality is what exists, I certainly don’t think that we can grasp all (or much) of it with our limited brains. Although it can see, would we ask a planarian to understand or explain the concept of shape and color?
Have you seen my book, “The God that Says I AM: A Scientist’s Meditations on the Nature of Spiritual Experience”?

nrhatch - June 13, 2014

Thanks for the link, Joanne.

Some things are beyond words. We cannot experience them vicariously ~ until we connect with source, we remain confused.

”What are you ~ a god, an angel, a saint?”
“No,” replied The Buddha, “I am A-W-A-K-E.”

Another favorite:

No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path. ~ The Buddha

Here’s to being objectively subjective. 😎

18. Three Well Beings - June 17, 2014

I am definitely interested in the documentary. I tried reading Atlas Shrugged decades ago and just couldn’t get into it. I no longer really remember why. I have been interested in Ayn Rand as a person much more than caring about her philosophy or perspectives. I don’t know how I can really do that, but the documentary might show me a reason to be more interested in both! Thanks for sharing about it, Nancy. I’ll look into it!

nrhatch - June 17, 2014

I hear you, Debra. I found the documentary fascinating . . . without being persuaded by her philosophy or perspectives. Such an interesting life and a strong women. No pushover, she.

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