Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Greetings, and Making Things “Click”

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Fellow Travelers,

I hope this message finds you well. 

I’m new here, but I’ve been studying Objectivism for a few years now, pretty intensely over the past year. Things are clicking for me slowly, but my understanding is very fractured still. I’m passionate about it and I’m very optimistic about seeing substantial changes in my life as a result of being an Objectivist, but most of what I’ve learned has yet to become second nature for me. Has anyone here dealt with/overcome this problem? I would imagine there are a lot. 

I’m looking for recommendations for books, threads, art, concepts, activities, methods, wise words, anecdotes, role models not invented by Ayn Rand, articles/passages to read twice, etc. that might give me perhaps a broader picture of Objectivism as a lifestyle or a better appreciation of some specific point or some kind of emotional impetus for integrating or a concrete example I might not have encountered that can stand as a conceptual token or a way of recognizing certain important concepts in daily life.

Should I focus more one some foundational area, such as metaphysics or induction or Rand’s fiction? Should I pay closer attention to current events? Should I just put down the books for a while? Rarely a day goes by in which I don’t read either Rand or Piekoff.

Just to save us all some time, here’s a list of major texts I’ve read:



Virtue of Selfishness

Philosophy: Who Needs It

New Left

Understanding Objectivism

some of OPAR

some of We the Living

some of Romantic Manifesto

some of Logical Leap

You’ll notice that Atlas is not on the list. I’m a little theory-obsessed and I’m not as obsessed with Ayn Rand’s writing style, so I thought I’d wait until I had a better knowledge of Objectivism so that I could really enjoy Atlas. Let me know if that’s a nonsense idea.

I’m also familiar with Piekoff’s “spiral method” idea, which makes sense to me, but I’m not sure if he ever went into much detail about how to actually navigate topics efficiently. Could be wrong about that. 

Anyways, I’m open to all ideas. I hope the request doesn’t sound too broad, but I’m just looking for anything that strikes you as helpful but perhaps not obvious. Thanks, guys. 


Edited by HowardRoarkSpaceDetective
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome to Objectivism Online, HRSD.

What specifically were your reactions to The Fountainhead? Were there characters in FH you identified with in their psychology?

I've known some readers of FH who found elements of Peter Keating in themselves, which they regarded as undesirable upon reading FH. They just changed their habitual ways, replaced with more or less Howard Roark. They did it themselves.

Is there a fiction writer whose style you enjoy more than Rand's? 

I urge you to read Atlas Shrugged before anything else, for the adventure and the characters. You may find yourself in some mind in there, something in them and in you to esteem. You don't need to already know the philosophy set forth in Atlas to enjoy the book. Quite the contrary order is exciting for reading that book. Give the author a chance to offer the philosophy to you in that fictional creation. 

Since you have an inclination for the theoretical side, I urge you to then read all of OPAR. 

Because I read Rand's fiction when I was around 18, which is fairly early in life, it is no longer clear to me altogether what was already second nature to me before reading them and what was to become second nature to me later due to reading them. I'm only just like me. Not just like every bit of Rand's mind or Howard Roark's. But when it comes to many basic ideas and elements of character and personality, another novelist said it: "I don't know what souls are made of, but yours and mine are the same."

Edited by Boydstun
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I loved the Fountainhead. Still one of my favorites books of all time. The first page alone is a work of art in my mind. That said, I read very slowly — on account of getting distracted, rather than emphasizing comprehension — so large parts of FH felt like a chore to me. But I have a genuine affection for Roark in a way that I have for almost no one else.

I don’t think I identified immediately with any particular character. It was more so a little of all of them. It was clear within the first few pages that Roark was the kind of person I’d always wanted to be. However, I understood Peter’s passivity and Toohey’s venom easily. I remember feeling invigorated by Wynand’s backstory, as though, if I couldn’t emulate Roark, then Wynand would be the next best thing. Part of that attraction is that Wynand is the kind of person I’ve never had the courage to be. 

Since finishing the book, I’ve come more to identify with Dominique and her conviction that idealism is a burden rather than a boon. Like she did early on, I felt like Roark’s optimism was unfounded. 

As far as other writers, Cormac McCarthy is brilliant. His line, “Anything that exists without my knowledge exists without my permission” hit me hard during my Stirnerian-Emersonian egoist phase. Emerson’s writing style in particular causes the kind of emotional reaction that Rand never has for me. Same goes for Nietzsche. I was deeply affected by Robert Pirsig and William Faulkner, and Stephen King is always a classic. 

I’ll stop putting off Atlas then. There’s a chance I’ve been avoiding it out of pure contrarianism. It’ll take a good while for me to finish so might as well get started (again). 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

IMO it is best to focus on an area that you understand reasonably well, but not well enough, that is, go for depth rather than breadth. But before pursuing that advice, you should also aim to say what fact of your existence Objectivism seems to solve, or whether your inerest is more ineffably “I like her writing style”. I came into Objectivism as an account of “rights” that is superior to religion- and tradition-based conservativism and stipulation-based libertarianism (the idea that initiation of force is an intrinsic bad, and that is leads to a contradiction without any clue what the contradiction is).

I’m resisting the temptation to say “do everything right now!”. You cannot reasonably hope to grasp a foundational question by intensively studying an area that you know nothing about. When you focus no an area that you alread understand to some extent, you are bound to run into a foundational issue, which when better resolved will have a great impact on your life. I read what Rand had to say about “principles” a million times but it was still just words. Once I read ITOE (which didn’t exist when I got started), the theory of concepts changed everything for me. Galt’s speech suddenly made sense, all of that stuff about principles and “chosing” actions made sense. ITOE provided a fundamental tool that led to me having a better grasp not only of Objectivism, but the nature of the universe. But, as they say, YMMV.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

With your references to McCarthy, Emerson, and Faulkner, you appear to be a serious reader. By all means read Atlas Shrugged as that novel presents a variety of characters whose positive traits, like Roark in The Fountainhead, provide suggestions for how to develop a life based on the Objectivist philosophy. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

I came into O'ism while I was trying to work out the best justification for Capitalism, and the more I learn, the better I understand why I was hitting so many dead ends as a libertarian. The consequentialist/deontological split is a dead-end. Anyways, I'd say my best area is economics. I just started both AS and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal and things are already clicking. I'm also going through a tough time thinking about a career and the fact that I'm so averse to the idea of 'work' so much of the time, so I’m paying extra attention to that as I'm reading.

Here's a great example of something that clicked for me yesterday: I was reading the scene in which Rearden returns home after pouring the first order of Rearden Steel and his family was getting up his ass about everything. I started to feel a ton of sympathy for him since I've had experiences of feeling baffled by people's evaluations of me. Minutes later, I was talking about job-searching with my roommate and his girlfriend. I'm moving soon, so finding something short-term will be difficult. They recommended I lie up front to employers about committing to permanent employment and then quit out of the blue after three months. I told them I wouldn't do it and they 'reminded' me that companies are business entities, not people and that, "Besides, they don't give a shit about you." One thing lead to another and I got hit with the classic, "I don't feel bad since insurance is gonna pay for it anyways." But the significant thing was that they truly believed that by thinking this way, they were getting what was owed them. When I insisted on being honest, one of them said, "I'm not used to you being so altruistic." This coming from socialists. I almost lost my head. Morality is truly a myth for these people.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...