Objectivism: Who Needs It?

by Peter Saint-Andre (2002)

Who needs Objectivism? Many questions lurk behind that one:

  1. What is this thing we call "Objectivism"? Is it a closed body of doctrines, an open intellectual system, a methodological approach, a convenient rallying cry, a quasi-religious community or even a cult, an ideological movement, a set of tools for living, or something else besides?
  2. What is the personal or societal function of Objectivism? Who needs it, and why?
  3. Is Objectivism, in its appeal to young adults, primarily a time of life rather than a way of life?

As usual, I don't pretend to possess the whole truth, but I do seek to ask the proper questions and explore some potential answers.

What is Objectivism?

The question of the nature of Objectivism has bedeviled the Objectivist "movement" for many years, perhaps since the beginning. Leonard Peikoff and other official "heirs" to Rand's "intellectual property" insist that Objectivism is all and only what Ayn Rand wrote (properly interpreted by them). David Kelley and other moderates argue that Objectivism is an open intellectual system with certain fundamental principles but no hard-and-fast doctrines. Ron Merrill, David King, and others of a scientific bent maintain that Objectivism is a set of methodological principles comprising a kind of reality-oriented practical epistemology. Chris Sciabarra finds a different methodological principle in Rand's writings: not reality-oriented science, but dichotomy-busting dialectics. Some libertarians mine Rand's novels and essays for inspiration and ammunition in the fight against government power. Others of a more philosophical mindset appreciate the systematic character of Rand's writings and seek solace with a remnant of like-minded others.

While I appreciate all of these viewpoints to some extent, I would like to offer a more radical idea: Objectivism does not exist. Most of those interested enough to write about Ayn Rand tend to conclude that the main threat to Objectivism lies within the Objectivist movement itself. Turning those notions on their head, I would say that the main threat to Objectivism lies in thinking of Objectivism as a movement -- almost a living thing -- that can be threatened.

A corollary to thinking that Objectivism is a movement is the view that Objectivism requires leaders and central organizations. I disagree. In a beautiful image, Rand once described the influence of her writings as an underground stream that breaks through to the surface from time to time in unexpected places. This, to me, is the way intellectual influence best occurs. What central organizations try to do is damn up the underground stream and redirect its course into tidy irrigation canals that will water the desired crops. Leaving aside for now the problem of the "organizational imperative" (in which the organization takes on a life of its own and those involved begin to feed the organization at the expense of their own happiness or professed principles), what organizational involvement in intellectual and spiritual matters does is to change the flow from organic to artificial, from natural to unnatural, from emergent order to directed order. The result is too often self-censorship and hack work where we most need creativity and innovation.

Rand extolled intellectual independence. My question to those who put their faith in Objectivist institutes and organizations is: which part of "intellectual independence" do you not understand? Because what organizations usually produce, by their very nature, is neither deeply intellectual nor deeply independent. Better, I think, to work independently and to cooperate in ad-hoc networks with interested others.

In a sense, I don't know if Objectivism has a future and I don't know that I care. Rand's novels and ideas have a future and she will continue to be read. Whether or not there is an organized movement or body of thought called Objectivism doesn't matter to me. People will read her novels, and some will be inspired by her vision and follow in her footsteps. Some of those will see where those footsteps lead and will branch off into other directions, perhaps veering from her path, perhaps focusing on certain aspects (e.g., politics or culture), perhaps extending the path by pursuing lines of thought that Rand did not entertain. Thus Rand's insights will pass into the main stream of human thought. That is already happening. Whether "Objectivism" survives that process is not very important to me.

In her novel Anthem she wrote (Rand 1937, 109-10):

I know not if this earth on which I stand is the core of the universe or if it is but a speck of dust lost in eternity. I know not and I care not. For I know what happiness is possible to me on earth. And my happiness needs no higher aim to vindicate it. My happiness is not the means to any end. It is the end. It is its own goal. It is its own purpose.

I have the same attitude toward "Objectivism" -- I know not and I care not whether it will survive the ages as an organized movement or body of thought. My happiness, my success, my thinking, are not a means to the end of Objectivism. I am an end in myself, and my flourishing as an individual human being needs no higher aim to vindicate it.

Yet if Objectivism does not exist, then how can I have written so many essays about it? There must be something here to write about.

And indeed there is. But I write about it not as a movement or system or thing, but as a series of particular insights into human nature and, based on those insights, some powerful tools for living a good, complete human life as a unique individual.

Keeping the Faith

I was not involved with the Objectivist movement in its heyday (the 1960s). Some who were involved claim that Objectivism was a quasi-religious cult. I have my doubts, as do intelligent observers who were active participants in the Objectivist community at that time (see for example Merrill 1991, 3-7).

Yet it appears that Objectivism has quite a bit in common with a religious movement. Rand saw herself as "giving people a new faith -- a positive, clear, consistent system of belief" (Rand 1995, 54). Some people believe Objectivism. Some people feel themselves converted to Objectivism, which is why new Objectivist acquaintances always ask each other "How did you find out about Ayn Rand?" The reason for this fascination is that "conversion day" is your true birthday: the day you become an Objectivist. Nothing that came before truly matters. Once you are converted, you feel compelled to remake yourself in "the image of your values" (i.e., your newly-acquired philosophy) and cast off all that you were before.

Yet what you need is not to be handed a new faith, but to seek and find wisdom and to integrate your ideas with your experiences and your inherent nature, both on your own and in cooperation with valued others. And by integration I do not mean that everything you are shall be subsumed under the rubric of Objectivism.

As a novelist and as a philosopher, Ayn Rand pursued a deep integration between ideas and reality. Consider the following quote from The Fountainhead (Rand 1943, 24):

Nothing can be reasonable or beautiful unless it's made by one central idea, and the idea sets every detail. A building is alive, like a man. Its integrity is to follow its own truth, its one single theme, and to serve its own single purpose.

Rand thought that both personal transformation and societal revolution require an integrated ideology to succeed. In this she was quite similar to certain Christians and Marxists, such as the sociologist-priest Camilo Torres:

The revolutionary struggle cannot be carried out unless there is a complete and integrated Weltanschauung. That is why it is difficult in the contemporary Western world for this struggle to be undertaken apart from Christian and Marxist ideologies which, for all practical purposes, are the only ideologies that possess an integral Weltanschauung. And for this reason it is difficult for uncommitted persons who do not belong to one of these ideological camps to assume revolutionary leadership.

Recall that Ayn Rand once said that today's world is understood in only three locations: the Kremlin, the Vatican, and the Empire State Building (at the time, Rand's newsletter had its offices in the last-named building). Why? Because only the Marxists, Christians, and Objectivists were in possession of a complete and integrated worldview.

Yet is it necessary to possess a consistent ideology in order to improve your character or the state of the world? The source for that view seems to be a Thomistic notion of coherence and order -- the idea that there is one animating principle or intention behind all phenomena. In the later Middle Ages that view was slowly broken down by the opposition of Ockham's particularism, a view captured by Peter Aureolus in the phrase omnis res est se ipsa singularis et per nihil aliud ("everything is individual by virtue of itself and nothing else").

Yet the Jesuits resurrected Thomism and put its hedgehog holism to use for political and cultural ends by presenting a unified vision of life that, among other things, resulted in using (or abusing) art for didactic or even propagandistic ends. Thus art, literature, and scholarship served the faith. As I have explored in my essay Artist Shrugged (Saint-Andre 1999), this approach was echoed in the twentieth century by both the Marxists and the Objectivists, for whom "the writer is the engineer of the human soul" (as Stalin put it) or "art is the technology of the soul" (as Rand put it).

Naturally it can be objected that Rand was an atheist adamantly opposed to religious belief; yet even her prototypical hero Howard Roark is described by the author as "religious in his own way". Rand's faith was a secular "religion of man", but for all that it was no less a religion in its own way. And the religious aspects of Rand's thinking manifest themselves in the typical manner: a concern with intellectual hygiene and ideological purity, a hierarchy of philosophical insight (with mere "students of Objectivism" at the periphery and trusted leaders at the core), a belief that only those who are fully committed to her own system are worthy of respect, a messianic fervor that finds release in apocalyptic visions (cf. Atlas Shrugged), and exhortations to revolutionary progress (which in Rand's view can be brought about only through a specifically philosophic revolution that will lead inevitably to a cultural and political transformation). In many ways she is almost more Thomistic than Aristotelian. She is at root one of Isaiah Berlin's hedgehogs, who "knows one thing" (her own philosophy of Objectivism) and has only disdain for those "pragmatic" foxes who know many things. Yet her philosophic absolutism blinds her to the fact that the industrial and American revolutions evolved out of the foxlike culture of England and America, that the Renaissance delighted in the particular not the universal, and that Aristotle was not the fountainhead but the summa of ancient Greece, which was exemplified by Odysseus (the "man of many ways") rather than by some integrated philosophical system.

A Gnostic Model?

Is there a way to square Rand's philosophic ideas with her individualism? Is it possible to realize that ideas are important but that they are not the sole motor of the world, thus avoiding the Scylla of philosophical determinism and the Charybdis of anti-intellectualism? I think there is, but not in the form usually presented by the intellectual leaders of Objectivist causes.

In particular, I find fault with the old-fashioned hierarchical model of the Objectivist movement, wherein those at the top or center set themselves up as intellectual authorities with special insight into philosophical truth. Ayn Rand herself was held to have possessed a power of immaculate conceptualization: a matchless and faultless ability to discern the meaning of the world. Those who studied long and closely with Rand (and who did not fall from her good graces) were held to be a second rank of interpreters who could read the mind of Rand and speak for her in an official capacity. Below this second rank could be found intellectual authorities who were unofficial but mostly reliable, followed by a great mass of people to whom these higher authorities ministered.

That model is familiar from the historical success of Christianity. Rand is God, her apostles are the bishops, the secondary authorities are a class of priests and deacons, and the "students of Objectivism" are the laity.

I might suggest an alternate model from Christian history: that of gnosticism.

Who were the gnostics? Because the history of Western religion was written by the victors (the Catholics), we shall probably never quite know. Yet recent scholarship, focused mainly on a trove of gnostic texts accidentally unearthed in Egypt, gives us a fairly clear picture. The gnostics were a powerful alternative viewpoint in early Christianity, opposed to the claims of spiritual authority made by the emerging institution of the Christian church. They were pro-woman, in constrast to the church fathers. They were individualistic, valuing the spiritual maturity of the individual far above obeisance to the church hierarchy. [1] And like a river forced underground, they have continued to provide a wellspring of inspiration to creative thinkers and artists throughout Western history, from the medieval troubadours and William Blake to Walt Whitman and Friedrich Nietzsche.

In her book The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels provides a powerful interpretation of gnosticism. Gnostic Christianity was opposed to the claims of the catholic church that it was the true orthodox (right-thinking) branch of the Christian community. The gnostics did not accept the authority claimed by the clergy, nor did they accept the books codified into the New Testament as the only true teachings of Jesus. The catholics asserted that "outside the church there is no salvation", but the gnostics countered that salvation comes not through an institution but through the cultivation of personal wisdom. For the gnostics, Jesus was a teacher of wisdom (not the cleanser of sins) and divinity was found naturally within the individual (not something utterly foreign to human experience). The gnostic was an often-solitary seeker after insight (in Greek, a monachos, from which term come "monk" and "monastic"). Yet the gnostic was not a hermit, but a member of a community of fellow-seekers.

However, according to the gnostics the true religious community is measured not by obeisance to clerical authority or by recitation of a certain creed, but by the extent of the knowledge and wisdom gained by its members. What matters is not expiation of some original sin, but an ascent from ignorance to insight or spiritual maturity (in Greek, gnosis).

And that spiritual maturity is reached through the search for self-knowledge. The gnostics held that far from requiring a church or divine revelation, the human individual possesses a full capacity for liberation from ignorance and unconsciousness -- a liberation found in gnosis: knowledge, insight, awareness, discernment, true perception. [2] One experiences internal resistance in the search for that enlightenment, but that resistance can be overcome. And it is necessary to overcome that resistance in order to "become what you are". For the choice is liberation or destruction, light or darkness. According to sayings attributed to Jesus in the gnostic Gospel of Thomas, "If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you." And: "There is a light within a man of light, and it lights up the whole world. If he does not shine, he is darkness." (Robinson 1990, 134, 129) What is this light within that one must cultivate? "The lamp of the body is the mind", according to a saying of Jesus in the Dialogue of the Savior (ibid., 247). The gnostic searcher is exhorted to "light the lamp within you" and to "knock upon yourself as upon a door and walk upon yourself as on a straight road" (Teachings of Silvanus, ibid., 390). "Whoever has not known himself has known nothing, but he who has known himself has at the same time already achieved knowledge about the depths of all things" (Book of Thomas the Contender, ibid., 201). The "Kingdom of God" is a state, not of history, but of transformed awareness.

Thus self-knowledge is the key to understanding the divine. Indeed, according to at least some gnostics (especially followers of Valentinus), human beings created the language of divinity -- even created god in their own image! Religious language is not literal, since it does not refer to separate objects or entities out there in the world; instead, it is a "language of internal transformation" in which "you see yourself, and what you see you shall become" (Pagels 1979, 134). The Jesus of the gnostic gospels directs his disciples inward. For example, in the Dialogue of the Savior, Matthew asks Jesus to show him the "place of life" which is "pure light", and Jesus answers: "Every one of you who has known himself has seen it" (ibid., 249). The disciple -- any disciple -- who seeks the truth is also the one who reveals the truth; for the truth is within.

One implication of finding truth within is that external authorities such as the church or even the reports of the students of Jesus (the apostles, in the terms of the catholic church) are no longer necessary -- the true disciple discovers that his own mind "is the father of the truth" and thus "maintains his own independence of anyone else's authority" (Pagels 1979, 132). [3] Even Jesus himself presented not a closed system of ideas, but a spur to the individual search for wisdom. [4] "No one else can tell another which way to go, what to do, how to act" (Pagels 1979, 145). Such an attitude was unpopular with those who would set themselves up, through the doctrine of apostolic succession, as the only authorities in matters of the spirit.

It comes as no surprise, then, that a gnostic approach to Christian thought did not survive: it stood as a direct challenge to the emerging orthodoxy and its political power. Yet in a sense gnosticism, however individualistic and true, contained within itself the seeds of its own supression. Why? For the very reason that it was individualistic and true. It strikes me that a tradition stressing spiritual maturity is by its nature elitist in some fashion: it is an approach for the few. Further, Pagels argues that gnostics emphasized the divinity of human nature to such a degree that, as Plotinus said, they thought "very well of themselves, and very ill of the universe". Although I take anything Plotinus says with a large grain of salt, I can see some truth here: the gnostics tended to pursue a fairly solitary life of contemplation, sometimes to the detriment or exclusion of all engagement with the world through marriage, parenthood, work, and community involvement. The human individual is what the anthropologists call a "social solitary", and the gnostics perhaps did not do full justice to the social side of that equation. It seems that they tended to totalism -- to saying that only the solitary life of the individual truly matters -- and thus they did not seek or find a greater integration between the solitary and the social. But these are nits; the deep individualism of the gnostics has long provided a shining example for later thinkers, and can still do so today.

In my experience, Objectivists too have trouble with integration. Ayn Rand called Objectivism "a philosophy for living on earth", but most of those who follow in her footsteps find it difficult to live that philosophy. A typical Objectivist may know all the Randian arguments and premises and conclusions, but the philosophy is not something that he has integrated into his life. The challenge is to use Rand's insights as tools for living. This requires a reflective approach to living and the kind of independent thinking well expressed by the character of John Galt in Atlas Shrugged (Rand 1957):

The most selfish of all things is the independent mind that recognizes no authority higher than its own and no value higher than its judgment of truth.

What to Live For

There is a long tradition in ethics (especially religious ethics) of saying that your life cannot have meaning unless you work for something larger than yourself. Paradoxically, such claims have been made even in a philosophy of individualism. Ayn Rand once said that she was doing more than dying for Objectivism: she was living for it. Maybe that approach was appropriate for Rand herself as a special case, since she originated this line of thinking (although I think that Rand was a lot less happy than she could have been, because of her singleminded dedicated to her philosophy). But it is not appropriate for those who follow in Rand's footsteps, because no idea, no philosophy, is an end in itself. Only your life is an end in itself. Your life belongs to you, not to Objectivism or to any other philosophy.

At the end of his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Wittgenstein wrote:

My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way: anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical, when he has used them -- as steps -- to climb up beyond them. (He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it.) He must transcend these propositions, and then he will see the world aright.

Any philosophy is just such a ladder. Once you are able to see the world aright and with your own eyes, it is time to let go of the ladder. I myself have let go of Rand's ladder, and no longer consider myself an Objectivist. At the same time, I recognize that Objectivism (properly understood) is a powerful tool for living a full human life; for understanding, choosing, achieving, and feeling; for attaining objectivity, self-direction, creative achievement, and deep enjoyment. It is a powerful tool, but a tool nonetheless.

Instead of seeing myself first and foremost as a student of Objectivism, I see myself as a student of life -- as someone who, among other things, thinks clearly and honestly, honors myself and others, creates value, understands as much as possible about this world of ours, and enjoys his brief sojourn on this earth. My thinking was for a long time deeply influenced by Ayn Rand. But over time I find myself thinking much more freely, venturing farther and farther afield from my Randian roots, seeking truths in traditions as diverse as Taoism, Epicureanism, gnosticism, civilizational history, and evolutionary psychology. And even aside from my thinking, I find myself simply living, enjoying my existence, working to create value in the world. I no longer see these activities through Rand-colored glasses -- I simply do them, and I try to do them well.

The true meaning of individualism is not to identify yourself with the label of Objectivist, or with any other label. It is not to perceive yourself as fighting any cultural or philosophical wars. It is to live your own life. Labels are important if you need to keep track of which batallion you're in: you need a banner to march under, colors to fly, a distinctive phrase on the battle horn to inspire you.

But I'm not fighting wars, running races, or supporting movements. I am living my own life -- and I find it eminently more worth my precious time to live and create than to argue and fight.

True believers say that this is treason to the philosophy of Ayn Rand. But, paraphrasing Rand's paraphrase of Patrick Henry, I say: If this be treason, make the most of it.

So what does a healthy Objectivist live for? In large measure, you live to "become what you are". I think of the ideal Objectivist as the kind of person who is at home on earth, open to reality, benevolent, inquisitive, reflective, calm almost to the point of serenity, yet passionate, open to emotion and experience and reason, intelligent in the sense of using your mind and being curious about the world, "centered", not seeking the approval of others, friendly, honest and straightforward, humanistic, creative of value in the world (in whatever sphere of life one chooses), in love with and passionate about life in all its particulars, interested in conversation and true learning rather argument.

That kind of living involves a great degree of self-trust. Consider this passage from Anthem (Rand 1937):

Then we walked on. And we came to a stream which lay as a streak of glass among the trees. It lay so still that we saw no water but only a cut in the earth, in which the trees grew down, upturned, and the sky lay at the bottom. We knelt by the stream and we bent down to drink. And then we stopped. For, upon the blue of the sky below us, we saw our own face for the first time.

We sat still and we held our breath. For our face and our body were beautiful. Our face was not like the faces of our brothers, for we felt no pity when looking upon it. Our body was not like the body of our brothers, for our limbs were straight and thin and hard and strong. And we thought that we could trust this being who looked upon us from the stream, and that we had nothing to fear with this being.

If I trust my whole self, then I will be spontaneously available to everything about my self -- my body, emotions, senses, mind, experience. Not just my reason or my goals or explicit premises, but my whole person.

The reason why many who profess agreement with Ayn Rand do not trust themselves is that they have been converted to an abstract vision of life and reject what they were before being converted. Yet it is fatal to let a philosophy (or anything else) prevent you from becoming what you are. That doesn't mean the task is easy. Even Peter Keating recognized this:

Katie, why do they always teach us that it's easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It's the hardest thing in the world -- to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage. I mean, what we really want. As I wanted to marry you. Not as I want to sleep with some woman or get drunk or get my name in the papers. Those things -- they're not even desires -- they're things people do to escape from desires -- because it's such a big responsibility, really to want something.

I think that the idea of self-trust overcomes the dichotomy of release vs. control, philosophy vs. self, system vs. personal fulfillment. In Keating's words, self-trust means doing what you really want, not what you feel you want. But at the same time self-trust does not entail rigidity or repressive self-control. When you achieve self-trust, it is not as if you have to control yourself, because you trust yourself to do the right thing and to be the right person. This requires that you be quite self-developed as a person and that you have a high level of self-knowledge. To paraphrase Rand, I cannot say "I trust myself" without first understanding the "I". There is an analogy here to art: you have to develop a certain level of craft, then you can "let go" or trust yourself as an artist and so reach greater heights than control would allow you. The same is true of living: you have to develop yourself as a person -- your capacities to think and choose and act and feel, as well as your individual strengths and talents -- and then you can let go and spontaneously be the person you are. The gnostics called this "bringing forth what is within you":

If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you. If you do not have that within you, what you do not have within you will kill you.

He who knows all but is lacking in himself is utterly lacking.

I've argued that self-trust and intellectual independence are essential to personal development. Sadly, it's often precisely self-trust that one lacks as an adolescent. That's one reason why Ayn Rand appeals so strongly to those who are still developing as persons (and, often, not afterwards): she presents a vision of life that holds out the promise of great things and important achievements, perhaps the greatest of which is the creation of your character and your self (what Nathaniel Branden used to call "moral ambition"). The novels of Ayn Rand are, naturally, not the only signposts toward the fulfillment of a human ideal. Yet Rand's vision is exceptionally, though not uniquely, individualistic in an almost religious way (similar thoughts have been expressed by Whitman: "nothing, not God, is greater to one than one's self is" and "there is no God any more divine than Yourself"). That vision can help you achieve spiritual maturity. The important thing is to recognize when it makes sense to let go of the ladder and to live for the sake of what you really want rather than for the sake of a philosophy. Unfortunately, given the strength of the Rand meme, knowing when to let go can be the hardest thing in the world.


[1] In contrast to the orthodox (catholic) church, the gnostics used qualititative rather than quantitative criteria to determine whether someone was a true Christian. For the gnostics that meant evidence of spiritual maturity or knowledge (gnosis):

Gnostic Christians, on the contrary, assert that what distinguishes the false from the true church is not its relationship to the clergy, but the level of understanding of its members, and the quality of their relationship with one another. The Apocalypse of Peter declares that "those who are from the life ... having been enlightened," discriminate for themselves betwee what is true and false. Belonging to "the remnant ... summoned to knowledge [gnosis]," they neither attempt to dominate others nor do they subject themselves to the bishops and deacons, those "waterless canals." Instead they participate in "the wisdom of the brotherhood that really exists ... the spiritual fellowship with those united in communion."

The Second Treatise of the Great Seth similarly declares that what characterizes the true church is the union its members enjoy with God and with one another, "united in the friendship of friends forever, who neither know any hostility, nor evil, but who are united by my gnosis ... (in) friendship with one another." Theirs is the intimacy of marriage, a "spiritual wedding," since they live "in fatherhood and motherhood and rational brotherhood and wisdom" as those who love each other as "fellow spirits." (Pagels 1979, 106)

[2] "What makes us free is the gnosis, and the hidden sayings set down by Thomas form a part of a gnosis available to every Christian, Jew, humanist, skeptic, whoever you are. The trouble of finding, and being found, is simply the trouble that clears ignorance away, to be replaced by the gnostic knowing in which we are known even as we know ourselves. The alternative is precisely what Emerson and Wallace Stevens meant by "poverty": imaginative lack or need. To believe that anything whatsoever is so does not address "poverty" in this sense. Knowledge only is the remedy, and such knowledge must be knowledge of the self. The Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas calls us to knowledge and not to belief, for faith need not lead to wisdom; and this Jesus is a wisdom teacher, gnomic and wandering, rather than a proclaimer of finalities. You cannot be a minister of this gospel, nor found a church upon it." (Bloom 1992, 111-112)

[3] "Valentinus and his followers ... argued that only one's own experience offers the ultimate criterion of truth, taking precedence over all secondhand testimony and all tradition -- even gnostic tradition! They celebrated every form of creative invention as evidence that a person has become spiritually alive. On this theory, the structure of authority can never be fixed into an institutional framework: it must remain spontaneous, charismatic, and open." (Pagels 1979, 25)

[4] For this reason, the gnostics held that the orthodox, with their pat answers to spiritual questions, "do not seek after God" (Authoritative Teaching):

The gnostic understands Christ's message not as offering a set of answers, but as encouragement to engage in a process of searching: "seek and inquire about the ways you should go, since there is nothing else as good as this." The rational soul longs to "see with her mind, and perceive her kinsmen, and learn about her root ... in order that she might receive what is hers." [Pagels 1979, 112]


Bloom, H. 1992. A Reading. In Meyer 1992.

Merrill, R. 1991. The Ideas of Ayn Rand. La Salle, IL: Open Court.

Meyer, M. 1992. The Gospel of Thomas. San Francisco: HarperCollins.

Pagels, E. 1979. The Gnostic Gospels. New York: Random House.

Rand, A. [1937] 1946. Anthem. Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Printers.
--. 1943. The Fountainhead. New York: Bobbs-Merrill.
--. 1957. Atlas Shrugged. New York: Random House.
--. 1995. Letters of Ayn Rand. Edited by Michael S. Berliner. New York: Dutton.

Robinson, J., ed. 1990. The Nag Hammadi Library in English. Revised Edition. San Francisco: HarperCollins.

Saint-Andre, P. 1999. Artist Shrugged.

Peter Saint-Andre > Writings > Randian Reflections