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The Objectivist's Creed: Has anyone ever boiled Objectivism down to a short, memorizable statement? (compare: Apostle's Creed)

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From my youth, I have memorized the Apostle's Creed, which is a short, memorizable statement of some of the essential doctrines of Christianity as believed in the region of Gaul in the 5th century A.D.

The Apostle's Creed begins with the line "I believe in God."

I thought that an Objectivist's Creed could begin with summary statements of the fundamental metaphysical axioms of Objectivism, and proceed to briefly state Objectivist principles of epistemology, ethics, politics, and esthetics. 

I thought such a short creedal statement could be memorized and thus referred back to when events, people, thoughts, and problems are encountered throughout the day.

The Apostle's Creed consists of 93 words and 619 characters. 

Has anyone ever seen such an Objectivist's Creed? 

Someone told me that John Galt's speech is a credal statement of Objectivism. But I don't think I can memorize that long speech!

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Thanks. Within that earlier thread I found this very helpful summary:

JUNE 17, 1962—At a sales conference at Random House, preceding the publication of Atlas Shrugged, one of the book salesmen asked me whether I could present the essence of my philosophy while standing on one foot. I did, as follows:

1. Metaphysics: Objective Reality

2. Epistemology: Reason

3. Ethics: Self-interest

4. Politics: Capitalism

Source: The Ayn Rand Column, Introducing Objectivism.

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LB, the idea that Objectivists need a Creed is an insult to them. Objectivists (I'm not one, if you can really sustain attention on criteria in the following, given my views on ethical egoism) are not fideists or idiots, contra your insinuation.

On 6/13/2021 at 5:15 PM, Boydstun said:

The essentials of the essentials gets one to the standing-on-one-foot essentials of a theory. So for relativity, special and general, one gets the standing-on-one-foot essentials: frame-invariance of the form of physical laws, frame-invariance of a finite upper limit of velocity, and the equivalence of gravitational and inertial mass. For the standing-on-one-foot essentials of the philosophy of Epicurus, one gets: don't worry, pursue modest pleasure.

But for a statement of the essentials of these theories back at the first level, before the distillations of the distillations suitable for the standing-on-one-foot characterization, one should turn to books such as Wolfgang Rindler's Essential Relativity or Eugene O'Connor's The Essential Epicurus.

At this level, in my judgment, the essentials of Rand's philosophy Objectivism are what is included in Leonard Peikoff's book Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. Rand approved the lecture series (1976) from which this book was composed as the straight statement of her philosophy. I heard that lecture series in 1977. He couldn't include everything from the lectures, but he did very well at selecting what was essential to present in a book-length basic statement of Rand's philosophy.

Rand rightly did not say that Peikoff's lecture series (and the anticipated book to be based on them) was the only possible correct systematic presentation of her philosophy. Other books can be written on The Essential Objectivism, and their authors can argue from Rand's own philosophic writings that theirs is a correct statement of her philosophy and a correct identification of what is essential to her philosophy and what is not.

On 6/13/2021 at 11:07 PM, Boydstun said:

Rand’s 1961 book For the New Intellectual has the subtitle The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. FNI includes Galt’s Speech from Atlas Shrugged. At the head of the Speech as displayed in FNI, Rand wrote: “This is the philosophy of Objectivism.” She had explained in the Preface to FNI that she had chosen the name Objectivism as the name of her philosophy.

In that Preface, she wrote:

“This book . . . . contains the main philosophical passages from my novels and presents the outline of a new philosophy.

“The full system is implicit in these excerpts (particularly in Galt’s speech), but its fundamentals are indicated only in the widest terms and require a detailed, systematic presentation in a philosophical treatise. I am working on such a treatise at present; it will deal predominantly with the issue which is barely touched upon in Galt’s speech: epistemology, and will present a new theory of the nature, source and validation of concepts. . . . I offer the present book as a lead or a summary for those who wish to acquire an integrated view of existence. They may regard it as a basic outline . . . .”

“When I say that these excerpts are merely an outline, I do not mean to imply that my full system is still being defined or discovered: I had to define it before I could start writing Atlas Shrugged. Galt’s speech is its briefest summary.”

Rand began writing a column in the Los Angeles Times in 1962. In the inaugural column, she reported that during a sales conference at Random House in ’57, a salesman had asked if she could state the essence of her philosophy while standing on one foot. She did, saying:

1. Metaphysics: Objective Reality

2. Epistemology: Reason

3. Ethics: Self-Interest

4. Politics: Capitalism

She went on to specify a bit further, in that column, what were her basic tenets under each of those headings.

The Objectivist Newsletter was established in 1962. From then through 1965, its subjects concerned overwhelmingly culture/politics and psychology/ethics. During that era, Nathaniel Branden penned in the Newsletter some short articles more to do with epistemology and a touch of metaphysics: First Cause Argument, Agnosticism, Unknowability, Stolen Concept Fallacy, Free Will v. Determinism, the distinctively Objectivist concept of free will, and a review of B. Blanshard’s Reason and Analysis (which last clearly had some input from Peikoff, who finished his Ph.D. in Philosophy in 1964). Rand wrote a review of J. H. Randall's book on Aristotle in the Newsletter; she had written some, critically, in the title essay of FNI, concerning history of epistemology and metaphysics. Peikoff penned some remarks in the Newsletter concerning some texts on the history of philosophy.

Rand had written some about the conceptual faculty in her earlier writings on ethics and on esthetics, but in July 1966, in The Objectivist, Rand began her series of articles she thought of as one of the cardinal elements of Objectivist epistemology: its theory of concepts. “These articles may be regarded as a preview of my future book on Objectivism.”

On 6/14/2021 at 2:03 PM, Boydstun said:

What sort of book on Objectivism, written by herself, would Rand be envisioning as she was releasing ITOE in The Objectivist in 1966? By the early ’70’s, Rand had released ITOE as a monograph privately printed by The Objectivist Inc. and available for purchase. My copy was printed in 1973.

In the Preface to her series of articles composing “Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology,” a Preface retained in the monograph, Rand wrote not only that ITOE was a cardinal element in the epistemology of her philosophy and that it was a window into her planned book on her whole philosophy. She remarked that ITOE was “offered here for the guidance of philosophy students.”

In The Objectivist, Rand’s series ITOE was soon followed by Peikoff’s “The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy.” I suggest that much material in ITOE and in that Peikoff article, though the material is part of the philosophy of Objectivism and stakes out philosophic positions among alternative ones at a somewhat more academic level, is not part of Objectivism needed by every thinking person for a sufficiently wide and integrated view of reality. Then too, not all that Rand wrote about esthetics is needed by that population of thinking persons for the full and integrated view to which Rand invites them. Rand’s theory of concepts and of esthetics are not part of the philosophical passages in Atlas Shrugged, including in GS. And Rand’s later work in those areas was certainly not all implicit in the material in GS.

Galt’s Speech confined itself to what a person needs for an integrated full framework for living in the modern world, with its opponent common views on knowledge, metaphysics, ethics, and politics. GS was Rand’s first presentation of the mature philosophy she had formulated, and it addressed life and thought in the actual world (our world), even though it did so while set in a fictional world tied to ours.

Read in its context in Atlas Shrugged, the speech is under a sunrise and a shadow. The sun had risen at the outset of Part III in Rand’s description of Dagny Taggart opening her eyes and seeing human clarity, openness, rightness, and serenity in the face of the man who later begins his national radio speech with the introduction “Ladies and gentlemen, . . . This is John Galt speaking.” The shadow is the economic disintegration and growing violence and tyranny in the country.

Galt is speaking as the ideal man, by the lights of Rand’s philosophy, and he is setting forth analysis of what has caused the crisis in the fictional world of Atlas and what is importantly wrong in the real world of the reader. He is setting out the solution, which is to say, he is setting out the new philosophy, Rand’s philosophy, which needs to be adopted to remedy the human failures in that fictional world and in the real world.

Rand leads in GS by characterizing the crisis as a moral crisis and by attacking prevalent moral ideals (1009–12). She then begins her own setting of the biological base of her new morality and its basic place in human existence, and this entrains her doctrines on human consciousness and the nature of rationality and human volition (1012–15). This lead naturally to laying out her fundamental metaphysics, her axioms, corollary axioms, her doctrine “existence is identity” and its modes in different basic categories of existence, her doctrine “consciousness is identification”, and her definitions of logic and truth concordant with all that (1015–17).

With the full complement of her axioms set out, Rand went forward with them to rule out radical indeterminacy of human nature and to portray applicability of the law of noncontradiction to the real world known by ordinary experience and science (1016, 1037, 1040–41). She puts her axioms to the purpose of refuting the method of faith and revelation (1018, 1035–36), radical separation of human values from matter or mind (1029–30), supremacy of will or feeling over rational perception of reality (1036-37), skepticism concerning sensory perception (1036, 1040–41), skepticism concerning causality (1037), and skepticism concerning knowledge (1039–40). Another purpose to which she puts her axiom “existence is identity” is to bar the “negative way” of approaching God, a regular path in Christian and Judaic theology, salient in Pseudo-Dionysius and Maimonides, and a regular thoroughfare of outright mysticism (1039).

Rand’s envisioned book she mentioned in 1966 would surely include all that and all the topics in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and political theory that had been articulated in The Objectivist Newsletter and The Objectivist. By the 70’s, she would surely want to include the advances she had proposed in “The Metaphysical and the Man-Made” (1973) and in “Causality vs. Duty” (1970).

Would such a book include the measurement-omission theory of concepts Rand had set out in ITOE? Would it include the material she had set out in The Romantic Manifesto (1971)? Would it stick to the subjects dealt with in GS, without the story-context and with her advances on those subjects in the ’60’s and ’70’s? But like GS, not deal with the theory of concepts introduced in ITOE or the theories set out in RM? Rather, keep to what the regular thinking person needs for a well-fortified integrated framework of the world?

The first half of of the twentieth century had seen some pretty successful blockbuster books presenting a full philosophy, and these had rather straddled being academic and being for the general educated reader: Process and Reality by Whitehead, Being and Nothingness by Sartre, and Being and Time by Heidegger. (In 1981 Nozick would also deliver such a tomb with his Philosophical Explanations.) I had long hoped for a book from Rand rather like those blockbusters. But Boydstun and pals with their inveterate scholarliness were only part of the not-fools audience Rand had always tended to. So I’d not have been surprised had she delivered a book rather more like Peikoff’s OPAR would turn out to be, with its things addressed and it things only pointed to in other publications.

When Peikoff, with Rand’s participation, pulled together the material for his 1976 lecture series The Philosophy of Objectivism, Rand had lung cancer. She was unable to attend the first few lectures, as she had been in the hospital for surgery. But she returned and became a lively speaker within the series before it was over. She made it clear that Peikoff, not she, would be subsequently writing a book presenting her philosophy systematically and that it would be the sort of material as was in this lecture series. And that she had great confidence in him in this book-writing endeavor. Me too.

On 6/16/2021 at 3:50 PM, Boydstun said:

Peikoff’s book on the philosophy of Ayn Rand covers all of the basics of the philosophy. Is every point the book includes as part of the philosophy essential to that philosophy? I should say No.

As I mentioned earlier, Rand’s measurement-omission theory of concepts (which I have championed and developed further in my 2004) as well as her theory of esthetics are not essentials of the philosophy. Those things were not in Galt’s Speech, whose doctrines suffice to cover all the essentials of the philosophy. (Amplifications of those essentials Rand subsequently published could also be taken as part of the essentials.) Additionally, all points in OPAR for which an endnote is attached that gives a source in remarks of Rand that she did not publish are not points essential to the Objectivist philosophy.

OPAR does not portray Rand’s development of her mature philosophy across the philosophical points made in her novels from 1936 to 1957. That development, though interesting, would not be necessary for stating what the mature philosophy is. Comparison of the mature philosophy with other philosophies, though helpful in characterizing what the Objectivist philosophy is, is also not necessary for stating what the mature philosophy is. At least not for purposes of persons not students of philosophy.

Coming back to what is essential to the philosophy, there are things in GS and in OPAR and in Peikoff’s 1976 lecture series “The Philosophy of Objectivism” (PO) and in Branden’s 1960’s lecture series “The Basic Principles of Objectivism” (BPO) that are not essential to the philosophy. In my assessment, such non-essentials would be those compiled below. (For my own part, I do not think all the essentials are true or fully accurate, though many are, and I do not think all the parts of the philosophy that are not essentials of it are false.)

GS – psychologies and motives of religionists and of materialists (e.g. Marxists, Behaviorists) / psychologies of savages and of dictators. These portions are not part of philosophy. What is known as philosophical psychology is necessary for a philosophy to answer the question What is man? but I reject a conception of these portions as properly part of philosophical psychology. I should maintain that these portions are not necessary to setting what is man in the Objectivist philosophy, and they are not essential to the Objectivist conception of what is man. These portions are not included in OPAR, and in my view, they are rightly omitted for the book’s purpose of portraying what is this philosophy.

BPO – psychodynamics. Theories of neurosis and repression and psychological types and sexual psychology are not part of philosophy, hence not part of Objectivism as a philosophy.

PO – (I’m leaving topics from the Q&A’s out of consideration here.) – esthetics is part of the philosophy, though not essential to it (as shown by absence from GS.)

OPAR – like PO / and, as remarked already: "all points in OPAR for which an endnote is attached that gives a source in remarks of Rand that she did not publish are not points essential to the Objectivist philosophy."

There are such things as philosophy of physics, biology, theater, music, film, language, technology, history, dance, education, humor, architecture, or sport. But for a full general philosophic system that has been formulated, such as Objectivism, it is not plausible that such specializations of such a philosophy results in the specializations being essential elements of the general philosophy.

In saying something is not part of philosophy or is not part of the essence of the Objectivist philosophy, I don’t mean to imply or insinuate that such things are not worthwhile or wonderful realms of understanding.

On 6/16/2021 at 8:36 PM, Boydstun said:

Notice that my immediately preceding post contradicts what I said in the first post of this thread, in respect of OPAR containing the essentials of the philosophy. It is the later post that is the more considered assessment and that demarcates some inessentials of the philosophy that are included in OPAR. That the book contains more than the essentials is no demerit to its aim.

If one goes, as many do, in looking at who is an Objectivist in their philosophy by whether they concur with the essentials of the philosophy, I should not want to leave the impression that everything in Peikoff's book is a thesis that must be concurred with to rightly count one as an Objectivist. Which would be the implication from my imprecise assessment of the book in the initial post.


Whether one is an Objectivist, a Heideggarian, or whatever is of secondary importance to what one holds as true and right. Concern over correct classification is a matter of keeping labels and conceptions straight.

One thing more about judging essentials of a philosophy, for example, Objectivism. Whether one concurs with essentials is not a matter of merely agreeing with high-altitude essential theses of the philosophy. That there is nothing supernatural is packaged right in the fundamental axioms of Objectivism. That the state has no right to commandeer one's life into personal service of its projects is straightforward implication of the Objectivist ethics and conception of what is man. So anyone who is a believer in the supernatural or in the military draft is not an Objectivist. That is not rocket science, and if one is a supernaturalist or a believer in conscription, one should just get some balls and stand up for what is one's own conviction and its difference from Objectivism. On the other hand, if one does not agree that there is such a thing as a sense of life, then one is not disagreeing with an essential of the philosophy.

On 6/17/2021 at 9:17 PM, Boydstun said:

Additionally, given my later, more considered examination, I should take back my earlier, imprecise statement: “Galt’s Speech confined itself to what a person needs for an integrated full framework for living in the modern world.” Rather, that confinement is what remains of GS when one sets aside “psychologies and motives of religionists and of materialists (e.g. Marxists, Behaviorists) / psychologies of savages and of dictators.”

I said also earlier in the reflections in this thread that the doctrines in Galt’s Speech “suffice to cover all the essentials of the philosophy. (Amplifications of those essentials Rand subsequently published could also be taken as part of the essentials.) Additionally, all points in OPAR for which an endnote is attached that gives a source in remarks of Rand that she did not publish are not points essential to the Objectivist philosophy.” I want to expand further on the amplification idea and to amend the not-published-by-Rand resort in source found in endnotes as a criterion for chucking into the bin Non-Essential.

Concerning amplifications, I’m thinking of post-Atlas writings such as Rand’s essays “The Metaphysical versus the Man-Made” and “Causality versus Duty.” Another candidate would be David Kelley’s argument that essentials of Rand’s philosophy beget benevolence as a major moral virtue. Each such candidate would have to have it’s argument outlined and its beyond-GS premises, if any, studied to assess whether the candidate is an essential part of the philosophy. (In the twentieth century, I recall seeing proof of a theorem about circles in the Euclidean plane which was a new discovery of a truth in Euclidean geometry, notwithstanding the external circumstance that Euclid had died a long time ago—truths of Euclidean geometry can come to light without Euclid having ever known anything about them.) Such assessments of candidates as amplifications of essentials in Objectivism will be left to the labor and sagacity of the reader as interest in a particular amplification candidate might arise.

I notice it also seems possible that the essentials of Objectivism or some natural portion of them might have a significant reformulation of them, rooted in writings of Rand, that is equivalent to the formulation expressly given them by Rand. This would be analogous to the equivalence of the epicycle model and the eccentric model that astronomers in ancient Greece used in capturing certain patterns of celestial bodies moving over the earth through a year.* I’ve seen a couple of efforts gesturing in this direction, but among the writings of Rand they draw upon are ones that are beyond GS and its implications, and their equivalence in resulting formulation to (portions of) Rand’s essentials are not entirely worked out.

The amendment I should add to counting as inessential any points supported by citing solely a saying or writing of Rand that she never chose to publish is: If the point can be argued anyway from essentials in GS by a deduction, then we can count it an essential. I make such a particular deduction myself in my paper “Existence, We” to be published in JARS next month (p. 88), and I then quote the conclusion also as an oral statement of Rand’s that she had never chosen to publish.

To locate the places in OPAR where Peikoff cites in support of a point words of Rand she did not chose to publish is easy. Just look down the Endnotes for ones citing only the Appendix to ITOE (1990) or only a private journal note of Rand’s or only a private letter of Rand’s. Compilation of the theses to which these Endnotes are attached and determination of whether they can also be reached by argument from essentials of Objectivism in GS, will be left as an exercise for the reader and maybe not this one who is the writer.


Edited by Boydstun
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23 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

If memory serves correctly, she highlights these also in her essay Philosophical Detection which can be found in her book Philosophy: Who Needs It?

Philosophical Detection
The Ayn Rand Letter
Vol. III, No. 10  February 11, 1974
Philosophical Detection--Part II

I will list these essentials for your future reference. But do not attempt the shortcut of accepting them on faith (or as semi-grasped approximations and floating abstractions). That would be a fundamental contradiction and it would not work.1

The essentials are: in metaphysics, the Law of Identity—in epistemology, the supremacy of reason—in ethics, rational egoism—in politics, individual rights (i.e., capitalism)—in esthetics, metaphysical values.2

1. This paragraph essentially rhymes what Mr. Boydston articulated at the beginning of his generous reply. ([T]he idea that Objectivists need a Creed is an insult to them.)

2. I would suggest that the difference between the two listings comes from an extemporaneous delivery on behalf of the citation from the Ayn Rand Column and the edited for print version initially provided in The Ayn Rand Letter and later reprinted under the title of Philosophy: Who Needs It?

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The shorter a summary you boil something down into, the more you leave out that might be better explained. 

It is possible to boil Objectivism down into one word.  In English, this makes it an imperative sentence.  An imperative sentence may be addressed to oneself, but should be explained to others rather than presented as an order.

This one-word sentence sounds like it was stolen from IBM.  It relegates important things to the level of omitted details.

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Here is how I "summarize Objectivism in a short, memorizable statement" in a few, interconnected, integrated words:


Rand's 4Rs: Reality - Reason - Rights - Romance

Or: Romance for Reason and Rights in Reality

Objectivism in Four Words, in One Sentence, in Four 2-word Sentences, or Four longer Sentences.

Four tenets of Objectivism

Reality. Reason. Rights. Romance.

Reality exists. Reason knows. Rights protect. Romance loves.

Reality exists objectively and absolutely.

Reason knows reality through sense and logic.

Rights protect reason against force and fraud.

Romance loves rights for life's truth, goodness, and beauty


These four tenets are the "creed" of the Astraean Individualist Society


An expanded statement (a philosophic poetic precis) of Rand's 4Rs is attached.

Romance for Reason and Rights.pdf

Edited by monart
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To The Laws of Biology and Monart,

While I admire your attempt to reduce the concepts of Ayn Rand and Objectivism to as few words as possible, whether poetry, psalm, or song, I have to agree with the others, that is, Objectivism requires much mental gestation. Monart, you mentioned in your other post that you didn't exactly grasp Ayn Rand from the very beginning of your reading of Anthem. You understood more as you studied more. The crisis of our time may be reduced to the fact that people are not as introspective as you or I. Our society endures a deluge of information, evidenced by the continual assault from mass media, be it mainstream or social media. The message of most of the media is not helpful to mental health in a free society. For a society addicted to cell phones, it may be challenging enough to encourage people (especially young people) to set aside enough time to think of philosophic questions. Though some individuals may start their journey into Objecitivist enlightenment through your online posts, I believe the overwhelming majority will find their path as you did: friends sharing conversation, leading to the recommendation of a book or an author. Nonetheless, I wish for your success, as America and Western Civilization desperately need to be informed of Objectivism in a positive light.

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I want to reference the beginning of an article called "Lisp as the Maxwell's Equations of Software," where the professor of a class on electromagnetism (quoted by the author of the article) presents Maxwell's Equations, and then says:


These are Maxwell’s equations. Just four compact equations. With a little work it’s easy to understand the basic elements of the equations – what all the symbols mean, how we can compute all the relevant quantities, and so on. But while it’s easy to understand the elements of the equations, understanding all their consequences is another matter. Inside these equations is all of electromagnetism – everything from antennas to motors to circuits. If you think you understand the consequences of these four equations, then you may leave the room now, and you can come back and ace the exam at the end of semester.

The article then quotes Alan Kay, saying that John McCarthy's Lisp interpreter, itself written in Lisp, is like "Maxwell's Equations of Software."

Sometimes I've wondered if it's possible to create the "Maxwell's Equations of Objectivism," which would sum up everything about Objectivism in a very small space, like on an index card.

I'm not sure it's possible.

Even if it is possible to sum things up that way, the resulting situation is probably just like the one the electromagnetism professor described for electromagnetism: understanding the summary might be easy, but understanding all the consequences of the summary would be another matter.

— Sometimes I think this one would be sufficient: "Existence is Identity; Consciousness is Identification."

This statement sums up the proper relationship between existence and consciousness, and I suspect that if Objectivism were lost, this statement alone might be enough to enable it to be rediscovered. (Or maybe more is needed.)

The consequences that need to be understood, however, are not merely the consequences of that statement alone, but also of all the facts in existence.

Edited by necrovore
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