Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Ayn Rand, born Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum

<p>Russian-born American Capitalist Objectivist Economist, Philosopher, Playwright and Writer best known for "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead"</p>

"Any refusal to recognize reality, for any reason whatever, has disastrous consequences. There are no evil thoughts except one: the refusal to think. Don't ignore your own desires... Don't sacrifice them. Examine their cause. There is a limit to how much you should have to bear."

"Altruism declares that any action taken for the benefit of others is good, and any action taken for one's own benefit is evil. Thus the beneficiary of an action is the only criterion of moral value - and so long as that beneficiary is anybody other than oneself, anything goes."

"Great men can't be ruled."

"Love is an expression and assertion of self-esteem, a response to one’s own values in the person of another. One gains a profoundly personal, selfish joy fro the mere existence of the person one loves. It is one’s own personal, selfish happiness that one seeks, earns, and derives from love."

"Man’s unique reward.. is that while animals survive by adjusting themselves to their background, man survives by adjusting his background to himself."

"Productive work is the central purpose of a rational man's life, the central value that integrates and determines the hierarchy of all his other values. Reason is the source, the precondition of his productive work - pride is the result."

"No one's happiness but my own is in my power to achieve or to destroy."

"I'm working to improve my methods, and every hour I save is an hour added to my life."

"Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of the tribe."

"All work is an act of philosophy."

"The desire not to be anything is the desire not to be."

"If it is true that what I mean by “selfishness” is not what is meant conventionally, then this is one of the worst indictments of altruism: it means that altruism permits no concept of a self-respecting, self-supporting man - a man who supports his life by his own effort and neither sacrifices himself nor others. It means that altruism permits no view of men except as sacrificial animals and profiteers-on-sacrifice, as victims and parasites - that it permits no concept of a benevolent coexistence among men - that it permits no concept of justice."

"The cross is the symbol of torture; I prefer the dollar sign, the symbol of free trade, therefore of a free mind."

"Whether you know the shape of a pebble or the structure of a solar system, the axioms remain the same: that it exists and that you know it."

"Anything may be betrayed, anyone may be forgiven. But not those who lack the courage of their own greatness… It does not matter that only a few in each generation will grasp and achieve the full reality of man’s proper stature – and the rest will betray it. It is those few that move the world and give it meaning – and it is those few that I have always sought to address. The rest are of no concern of mine; it is not me or “The Fountainhead” that they will betray: it is their own souls."

"Altruism declares that any action taken for the benefit of others is good, and any action taken for one's own benefit is evil. Thus the beneficiary of an action is the only criterion of moral value -- and so long as that beneficiary is anybody other than oneself, anything goes."

"Do not let the hero in our soul perish, in the lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it impossible, it's yours."

"What is a demanding pleasure? A pleasure that demands the use of one's mind; not in the sense of problem solving, but in the sense of exercising discrimination, judgment, awareness."

"Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men."

"In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title."

"Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all."

"Kill reverence and you’ve killed the hero in man."

"My happiness is not the means to any end. It is the end. It is its own purpose. Neither am I the means to any end others may wish to accomplish. I am not a tool for their use. I am not a servant of their needs. I am not a bandage for their wounds. I am not a sacrifice on their altars."

"Great men can’t be ruled."

"To achieve… you have to know what you’re doing, and that’s real power."

"Upper classes are a nation's past; the middle class is its future."

"Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values."

"Wealth is the product of man’s capacity to think."

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

"The most profoundly revolutionary achievement of the United States of America was the subordination of society to moral law."

"Every man is free to rise as far as he's able or willing, but the degree to which he thinks determines the degree to which he'll rise."

"Reason is man's primary tool for survival."

"Wealth is the product of man's ability to think."

"The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live."

"If one wishes to advocate a free society - that is, capitalism - one must realize that its indispensable foundation is the principle of individual rights."

"When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – When you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – When you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you – When you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – You may know that your society is doomed."

"The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests". - Patrick Henry “When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing; when you see that money is flowing to those who deal not in goods, but in favors; when you see that men get rich more easily by graft than by work and your laws no longer protect you against them, but protect them against you—you may know that your society is doomed."

"We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force. "