[[Ayn Rand]]'s philosophy of Objectivism is a comprehensive philosophical system that encompasses metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, [politics](https://doctorparadox.net/category/politics/), and aesthetics. It emerged in the mid-20th century through the works of the Russian-American writer and philosopher Ayn Rand, most notably in her novels "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged." Objectivism advocates for rational self-interest, individualism, and laissez-faire capitalism / extreme [[free markets]]. The core tenets of Objectivism can be summarized as follows:
1. **Metaphysics**: Objective Reality -- Objectivism holds that there is an objective reality that exists independently of our perceptions, thoughts, or feelings. According to Rand, the universe is governed by immutable natural laws, which can be discovered and understood through reason.
2. **Epistemology**: Reason -- In Objectivist epistemology, reason is the primary means of acquiring knowledge. Rand argues that the human mind can perceive reality and gain knowledge by integrating sensory data through a logical, non-contradictory process. Emotions, faith, and revelation are not considered valid sources of knowledge.
3. **Ethics**: Rational Self-Interest -- Objectivism's ethics emphasizes the pursuit of rational self-interest, where individuals should seek their own happiness and well-being as the highest moral purpose. Altruism, the idea of self-sacrifice for the benefit of others, is rejected as morally destructive. Instead, Rand advocates for voluntary cooperation and trade among individuals, where each person acts in their own best interest while respecting the rights of others.
4. **Politics**: Laissez-Faire Capitalism -- In the realm of politics, Objectivism endorses laissez-faire capitalism as the ideal social system. Rand argues that a proper government should protect individual rights, including [property rights](https://doctorparadox.net/property-vs-people/), and refrain from interfering in the economy. Objectivism opposes [[collectivism]], socialism, and any form of coercive government intervention.
5. **Aesthetics**: Romantic Realism -- Ayn Rand's aesthetic theory, called Romantic Realism, promotes art that celebrates the potential for human achievement, the power of reason, and the pursuit of individual values. According to Rand, art should be an expression of human ideals and should reflect the artist's philosophical values.
Critics of Objectivism argue that its emphasis on self-interest can lead to callousness, [social inequality](https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/economics/inequality-definition/), and environmental degradation. Additionally, they contend that Rand's dismissal of altruism is overly simplistic and disregards the complexity of human motivation and moral behavior. Despite these criticisms, Objectivism has had a significant impact on American culture and political thought, influencing various [libertarian](https://doctorparadox.net/category/politics/libertarianism/) and [[conservative]] movements.