Community Conversations: Professor explains Ayn Rand’s cult of personality | Local

On July 8, Dr. Tim Shiell, director of the civil liberties focused UW-Stout Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation, presented a discussion of Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism.

Rand grew up in a Jewish family in St. Petersburg in the early 20th century where her father was a pharmacist. Outgoing, confident and adversarial, she was disappointed with the results of the communist takeover of Russia and with her education.

Granted a visa to the United States in 1925, Rand arrived in 1926, moved to Hollywood, became a writer and playwright, and later moved to New York City. Her mentor was Isabel Paterson, a journalist and political philosopher, who espoused beliefs in individualism and was opposed to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Rand wrote the books of fiction “Fountainhead” (1943) and “Atlas Shrugged” (1957). Encouraged to do more scholarly works by her friend Nathaniel Branden in 1958, she developed the philosophy of Objectivism. Although she only acknowledged the influence of Aristotle on her philosophy, Objectivism also contains elements of Friedrich Nietzsche, 19th century German philosopher.

In her philosophy of Objectivism, Rand feels that to pursue your own happiness is your highest moral aim. You should figure out what you want to do in your life and do everything to get it.

According to Rand, there are only two sides to every issue. One side is the right side and the other is wrong. Those who have opinions between the two sides or who compromise are evil. She believes in both economic and civil liberty, but considers economic liberty to be the most important. 

Rand is in favor of a laissez-faire economy and small government. She does not believe in religion, the soul or divine beings. According to her Objectivist theory, all knowledge is obtained though our senses. Man’s productive…

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