Ayn Rand (February 2, 1905 – March 6, 1982) was a Russian-born American writer and philosopher. She is best known for two of her contributions to literature: the books The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. It was in them that she expressed elements of Objectivism, the philosophical system she was to later develop.
One of the main tenets of Objectivism is that reality -the world – exists independently of consciousness. Using concept-formation and inductive logic, humans can gain knowledge of the world and interact with it through their senses. Attaining happiness is life’s moral purpose, productive achievement is the noblest of activities, and reason is man’s only absolute.
Objectivism often dovetails with other philosophical systems that emphasize individual rights and laissez-faire economic models. Ayn Rand and Objectivism is popular in Libertarian and American conservative communities, but is largely ignored or rejected in the academic community.
A brief history of Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand came of age during the Russian Revolution of 1917. It disrupted her father’s pharmaceutical business, and the family was forced to move from St. Petersburg to Crimea, where they lived in poverty. The situation had a major impact on the future writer, who became resentful of the government’s intrusion into individual livelihood.
After graduating from university, Rand eventually moved to American, then later to Hollywood in her early twenties holding aspirations of becoming a screenwriter in her heart. She took on her pen-name Rand (her real name was Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum) and never looked back.
After several rejections, she managed to publish her first novel — We the Living (1936), which was highly autobiographical and focused on the struggle between the individual and the state. In her late 30s she wrote one of her most consequential novels, The Fountainhead. It gained her worldwide renown and financial independence.
Read on below to discover 75 Ayn Rand quotes about the individual, government, capitalism, freedom, and happiness. Ayn Rand had some popular novels, so everyone should check out the quotes below to get a glimpse into why she has so many followers. When it comes to life, Ayn Rand had a lot to say. Seek it – Ayn Rand will provide some great food for thought!
75 Ayn Rand Quotes from The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged and Anthem
Ayn Rand quotes from Fountainhead
That’s not the point. The point is, who will stop me?
Freedom (n.): To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing.
The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody has decided not to see.
To say “I love you” one must know first how to say the ‘I’.
Have you felt it too? Have you seen how your best friends love everything about you- except the things that count? And your most important is nothing to them; nothing, not even a sound they can recognize.
To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That’s what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul – would you understand why that’s much harder?
I regret nothing. There have been things I missed, but I ask no questions, because I have loved it, such as it has been, even the moments of emptiness, even the unanswered-and that I loved it, that is the unanswered in my life.
You have been the one encounter in my life that can never be repeated.
Self-sacrifice? But it is precisely the self that cannot and must not be sacrificed.
Man cannot survive except through his mind. He comes on earth unarmed. His brain is his only weapon.
I love you so much that nothing can matter to me – not even you…Only my love- not your answer. Not even your indifference.
Love is reverence, and worship, and glory, and the upward glance. Not a bandage for dirty sores.
We can never really know another person, except by our first glance at him. Because, in that glance, we know everything. Even though we’re not always wise enough to unravel the knowledge.
It’s easy to run to others. It’s so hard to stand on one’s own record. You can fake virtue for an audience. You can’t fake it in your own eyes. Your ego is your strictest judge.
Integrity is the ability to stand by an idea.
She knew that even pain can be confessed, but to confess happiness is to stand naked, delivered to the witness…
One loses everything when one loses one’s sense of humor.
Self-respect is something that can’t be killed. The worst thing is to kill a man’s pretense at it.
Ayn Rand quotes from Atlas Shrugged
Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.
I started my life with a single absolute: that the world was mine to shape in the image of my highest values and never to be given up to a lesser standard, no matter how long or hard the struggle.
If you don’t know, the thing to do is not to get scared, but to learn.
The man who lies to the world, is the world’s slave from then on…There are no white lies, there is only the blackest of destruction, and a white lie is the blackest of all.
She did not know the nature of her loneliness. The only words that named it were: This is not the world I expected.
I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.
Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.
Never think of pain or danger or enemies a moment longer than is necessary to fight them.
The man who is proudly certain of his own value, will want the highest type of woman he can find, the woman he admires, the strongest, the hardest to conquer–because only the possession of a heroine will give him the sense of an achievement.
What greater wealth is there than to own your life and to spend it on growing? Every living thing must grow. It can’t stand still. It must grow or perish.
I never found beauty in longing for the impossible and never found the possible to be beyond my reach.
Live and act within the limit of your knowledge and keep expanding it to the limit of your life.
Joy is the goal of existence, and joy is not to be stumbled upon, but to be achieved, and the act of treason is to let its vision drown in the swamp of the moment’s torture.
If one’s actions are honest, one does not need the predated confidence of others.
It is not death that we wish to avoid, but life that we wish to live.
Ayn Rand quotes about love
Love is the expression of one’s values, the greatest reward you can earn for the moral qualities you have achieved in your character and person, the emotional price paid by one man for the joy he receives from the virtues of another.
I would step in the way of a bullet if it were aimed at my husband. It is not self-sacrifice to die protecting that which you value: If the value is great enough, you do not care to exist without it.
You know what you are actually in love with? Integrity. The impossible. The clean, consistent, reasonable, self-faithful, the all-of-one-style, like a work of art.
Someday, the world will discover that, without thought, there can be no love.
Honesty is the recognition of the fact that the unreal is unreal and can have no value, that neither love nor fame nor cash is a value if obtained by fraud.
But you see, the measure of hell you’re able to endure is the measure of your love.
If one doesn’t respect oneself one can have neither love nor respect for others.
Ayn Rand quotes from Anthem
My happiness is not the means to any end. It is the end. It is its own goal. It is its own purpose.
I am. I think. I will.
The secrets of this earth are not for all men to see, but only for those who will seek them.
I do not grant my love without reason, nor to any chance passer-by who may wish to claim it. I honor men with my love. But honor is a thing to be earned.
There is fear hanging in the air of the sleeping halls, and the air of the streets. Fear walks through the city, fear without name, without shape. All men feel it and none dare speak.
Know what you want in life and go after it. I worship individuals for their highest possibilities as individuals, and I loathe humanity, for its failure to live up to these possibilities.
I understood that centuries of chains and lashes will not kill the spirit of man nor the sense of truth within him.
The fortune my spirit is not to be blown into coins of brass and flung to the winds as alms for the poor of the spirit. I guard my treasures: my thought, my will, my freedom. And the greatest of these is freedom.
It is my will which chooses, and the choice of my will is the only edict I must respect.
For the coming of that day shall I fight, I and my sons and my chosen friends. For the freedom of Man. For his rights. For his life. For his honor.
Equality says : ‘But I still wonder how it was possible, in those graceless years of transition, long ago, that men did not see whither they were going, and went on, in blindness and cowardice‘
And I wish I had the power to tell them that the despair of their hearts was not to be final, and their night was not without hope.
Ayn Rand quotes on capitalism
Capitalism was the only system in history where wealth was not acquired by looting, but by production, not by force, but by trade, the only system that stood for man’s right to his own mind, to his work, to his life, to his happiness, to himself.
Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned
Capitalism is based on self-interest and self-esteem; it holds integrity and trustworthiness as cardinal virtues and makes them pay off in the marketplace, thus demanding that men survive by means of virtues, not of vices.
What it does guarantee is that a monopolist whose high profits are caused by high prices, rather than low costs, will soon meet competition originated by the capital market.
Let those who are actually concerned with peace observe that capitalism gave mankind the longest period of peace in history — a period during which there were no wars involving the entire civilized world — from the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815 to the outbreak of World War I in 1914.
A free market never loses sight of the question: Of value to whom? And, within the broad field of objectivity, the market value of a product does not reflect its philosophically objective value, but only its socially objective value.
Ayn Rand quotes on government
A government is the most dangerous threat to man’s rights: it holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force against legally disarmed victims.
The government was set to protect man from criminals, and the Constitution was written to protect man from the government.
Government “help” to business is just as disastrous as government persecution… the only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off.
The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man’s rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence.
The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.
Ayn Rand quotes on individualism
An individualist is a man who says: I will not run anyone’s life – nor let anyone run mine. I will not rule nor be ruled. I will not be a master nor a slave. I will not sacrifice myself to anyone – nor sacrifice anyone to myself.
Do not make the mistake of the ignorant who think that an individualist is a man who says: “I’ll do as I please at everybody else’s expense.” An individualist is a man who recognizes the inalienable individual rights of man—his own and those of others.
Individualism regards man-every man-as an independent, sovereign entity who possesses an inalienable right to his own life, a right derived from his nature as a rational being.
Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual).
If a life could have a theme song – and I believe every worthwhile one has – mine is a religion, an obsession, a mania or all of these expressed in one word — individualism. I was born with that obsession, and I’ve never seen and do not know now a cause more worthy, more misunderstood, more seemingly hopeless and tragically needed.
A man’s rights are not violated by a private individual’s refusal to deal with him.
The concept of individual rights is so new in human history that most men have not grasped it fully to this day. In accordance with the two theories of ethics, the mystical or the social, some men assert that rights are a gift of God– others, that rights are a gift of society. But, in fact, the source of rights is man’s nature.
Since knowledge, thinking, and rational action are properties of the individual, since the choice to exercise his rational faculty or not depends on the individual, man’s survival requires that those who think be free of the interference of those who don’t.
The system they established was not based on unlimited majority rule, but on its opposite: on individual rights, which were not to be alienated by majority vote or minority plotting. The individual was not left at the mercy of his neighbors or his leaders: the Constitutional system of checks and balances was scientifically devised to protect him from both.
The right to agree with others is not a problem in any society; it is the right to disagree that is crucial.
There is only one power that determines the course of history, just as it determines the course of every individual life: the power of man’s rational faculty — the power of ideas.
It is not as late as you think. It is merely early — in the age of the rebirth of individualism.
The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.Ayn Rand
Happiness is not to be achieved at the command of emotional whims. Happiness is not the satisfaction of whatever irrational wishes you might blindly attempt to indulge. Happiness is a state of non-contradictory joy—a joy without penalty or guilt, a joy that does not clash with any of your values and does not work for your own destruction, not the joy of escaping from your mind, but of using your mind’s fullest power, not the joy of faking reality, but of achieving values that are real, not the joy of a drunkard, but of a producer. Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing but rational goals, seeks nothing but rational values and finds his joy in nothing but rational actions.