Ayn Rand: A Woman Objectified Research Proposal

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Thereafter, she published her own work and lectured on the Objectivist moral ethic to which she often referred to as "a philosophy for living on earth" based on rational self-interest and the balance between the needs of the individual and moral principles based on a commitment to objective situational perception and analysis (Merrill, 1998).

In principle, Objectivism maintains that self-interest or rational egoism is a valid perspective but that the individual's perceptions must always be guided by an objective

(vs. subjectively biased) understanding of one's rights and obligations with respect to others and to society. While the main purpose of life according to Rand is self-

fulfillment, it is rational objectivity that both distinguishes appropriate from inappropriate moral actions and that establishes the role of the individual in society. Like other moral philosophers of her time, including the infamous physicist Albert Einstein and the philosopher and historian Bertrand Russell, Rand suggested that while the individual's primary obligation was to seek his own happiness, a moral imperative precluded exploiting other to achieve personal goals (Merril, 1998; Peikhoff, 1993).

Similarly, Rand shared the belief of Einstein and Russell that the most fulfilling life is that which focuses on benefiting other members of society. Finally, in that regard,

Rand also mirrored Einstein and Russell's belief that organized religion inspired more social harm and human cruelty in human societies than any purported benefit and that the psychological orientation of theism undermined the development of both independent rational perspective and a genuine self-esteem and psychological sufficiency in the individual (Peikhoff, 1993; Rand, 1964).

That point-of-view in particular inspired one of her students, Nathaniel Branden to devote his later career as a psychologist and prolific author of psychology self-help books on understanding the origin and importance of self-esteem as well the environmental causes and consequences of low self-esteem.
Branden's work also prominently featured

Ayn's characterization of intellectual independence, honesty, and especially, psychological and philosophical integrity (Peikhoff, 1993; Rand, 1964). Both Rand and Branden emphasized that the commitment to think instead of avoiding thinking about moral concepts and about what actions and desires are ethically appropriate and what courses of human action are ethically inappropriate for the individual to pursue is a fundamental prerequisite for the Objectivist ethic and a rational approach to human life

(Merrill, 1998; Rand, 1964). Curiously, Rand, who championed individuality and civil rights wrote very disparagingly about homosexuality and the feminist movement, although she partially recanted her previous statements about the former much later in her

life (Merrill, 1998).

Branden established the Nathaniel Branden Institute relying heavily on Rand's writings and on the Objectivist approach to human life promoted by his programs. From 1964 until 1968, Rand and Branden (both of whom were married) were romantically involved, but with their respective spouses' knowledge and consent (Branden, 1987).

However, in 1968, Branden separated from his wife and began courting another woman,

Patrecia Scott, eventually marrying her. He did not inform Rand of the relationship and she was infuriated at the eventual disclosure, after which she terminated any association with Branden and denounced him in her written comments subsequently (Branden,

1987). Rand continued to live in New York City where she died in 1982.


Branden, B. (1987). The Passion of Ayn Rand. New York: Anchor Books.

Merrill, R. (1998). The Ideas of Ayn Rand. London: Open Court.

Peikoff, L. (1993).….....

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