How would you summarize Objectivism—and prove it's not crazy?

18 Aug 2011

On Objectivist Answers someone asked: “How would you summarize the key features of Objectivism?” In their elaboration they added: “if someone told you ‘Objectivism is crazy’ (or something along those lines), is there a list of features you could put forward to refute their claim?” Here is my answer:

Rand’s “Objectivism on one foot” is a good summary. Another good summary from her is this one-liner: “My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”

In some situations, I just say it is a secular philosophy that upholds reason, science, technology, industry, business, and capitalism. That’s not a great description of Objectivism, but for someone who has no clue what it is, that brief list of keywords gives a sense of where the philosophy stands relative to today’s common philosophic positions.

But if someone just says “Objectivism is crazy”, there is no magic phrase to make them change their mind. You have to find out why they think that. It is probably because: