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Quotations from
Ayn Rand [1905-1982]

Ayn Rand was one of the most important philosophers of the XXth Century, and quotations from her work are both cogent and thought-provoking. These bite-size pieces of her Objectivist philosophy are taken from the wide-ranging elements of her career – fiction & non-fiction writings, lectures, movie scripts, newspaper columns & articles, and television & radio appearances.

Links are provided below for further investigation, for those new to Ayn Rand.
The references to WMail issues indicate quotes that appeared in the free monthly 'WMail' ezine connected with the post-Objectivist "Working Minds Philosophy of Empowerment" created by G.E. Nordell.

After WMail Issue #72 in October 2007, essays & quotations & news were posted to the Dateline Chamesa blog

Quotation Ring Homepage, including joining info Next site in the Quotation Ring A random Quotation Ring site View a list of all Quotation Ring sites Quotation Ring from Gunnar & RingLink

Ayn Rand Links Page
Ayn Rand Pages at Maison d'Κtre Philosophy Bookstore
Mini-version (964 words) of John Galt's Speech
Francisco's 'Money' Speech from "Atlas Shrugged"

Ayn Rand Film Festival at Magic Lantern

Maison d'Κtre Philosophy Bookstore's "Atlas Shrugged" [1957 novel] Page

signature of Ayn Rand

"Religion is a primitive form of philosophy, [the] attempt to offer a comprehensive view of reality."
(The Objectivist Feb 1966)  {WMail Issue #5}
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"Anyone who fights for the Future lives in it today."
in 'Romantic Manifesto' [1969]  {WMail Issue #9}
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"Everyone has the right to make his own decision/s, but none has the right to force his decision on others."
('The Virtue of Selfishness', Chapter 12)  {WMail Issue #10}
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"In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit."
{WMail Issue #12 and Dateline Chamesa blog 10/2007 & 2/2008}
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"Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think."
{WMail Issue #14}
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"Capitalism demands the best of every man – his rationality – and rewards him accordingly. It leaves every man free to choose the work he likes, to specialize in it, to trade his product for the products of others, and to go as far on the road of achievement as his ability and ambition will carry him."
('For the New Intellectual' 1961)  {WMail Issue #17}
•      •
"Did you really think we want those laws observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them to be broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against... We're after power and we mean it. . . There's no way to rule innocent men. 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. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Reardon, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be
much easier to deal with." ("Atlas Shrugged", 1957)  {WMail Issue #23}
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"The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction [that] you give it."
('John Galt Speech' 1957)  {WMail Issue #26}
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"Great men can't be ruled."  {WMail Issue #26}
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"The skyline of New York is a monument of a splendour that no pyramids or palaces
will ever equal or approach."  {WMail Issue #27}
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"Thanksgiving is a typically American holiday . . . The lavish meal is a symbol of the fact that abundant
consumption is the result and reward of production."  {WMail Issue #29}
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"It is not a question of whether man chooses to be guided by [philosophy]: he is not equipped
to live without it."
  {WMail Issue #30}
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"The most depraved type of human being . . . (is) the man without a purpose."
("Atlas Shrugged", 1957) {WMail Issue #33}
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"There's nothing of any importance except how well you do your work."
("Atlas Shrugged", 1957) {WMail Issue #33}
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"The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum. Whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those
who evade the fact that there can be no compromise on basic principles."
('Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal' 1966) {WMail Issue #34}
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"Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values."
("Atlas Shrugged", 1957) {WMail Issues #35 & #62}
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"The [U.S.] Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals ... it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government ... it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizen's protection against the government."  {WMail Issue #36}
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"Reason, the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by the senses,
is man's basic tool of survival."  {WMail Issue #45}
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"A rational man is guided by his thinking – by a process of Reason – not by his feelings and desires."
{WMail Issue #45}
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"Reason is man's basic means of survival."  {WMail Issue #45}
•      •
"Reason is a faculty that man has to exercise by choice."  {WMail Issue #45}


"We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality."  {WMail Issue #48 & blog 12/2012}

Apparently, this is a 'folk' version of a longer quote from Ayn Rand
"[Man] is free to evade reality, he is free to unfocus his mind and stumble blindly down any road he pleases,
but not free to avoid the abyss [that] he refuses to see." — in "The Objectivist Ethics", 1961
(thanks to Ayn Rand scholar Harry Binswanger for the correction - 1/2013)


"The question isn't who is going to let me, it's who is going to stop me."  {Issue #61}
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"Money is the barometer of a society's virtue."  {Issue #62}
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"That which is outside the possibility of choice is also outside the province of morality."  {Issue #64}
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"Immanuel Kant is the real evil of our age, the villain of European history." (in 1979)  {blog 10/2009 & 1/2014}
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"The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it's yours. But to win it requires total dedication and a total break with the world of your past, with the doctrine that man is sacrificial animal who exists for the pleasure of others. Fight for the value of your person. Fight for the virtue of your pride. Fight for the essence, which is man, for his sovereign rational mind. Fight with the radiant certainty and the absolute rectitude of knowing that yours is the morality of life and yours is the battle for any achievement, any value, any grandeur, any goodness, any joy that has ever existed on this earth."
John Galt quote that ended Ayn Rand's last public speech (New Orleans Nov 1981)  {blog 1/2011}
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"Kill reverence and you've killed the hero in a man."  {blog 4/2012}
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"If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing."  {blog 5/2012}
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"Upper classes are a nation's past; the middle class is its future."  {blog 5/2012 & 5/2013}
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"I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason.
If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows. This – the supremacy of reason – was,
is and will be the primary concern of my work, and the essence of Objectivism."
('Brief Summary', The Objectivist Sept 1971)  {blog 5/2012}
•      •
"America’s founding Ideal was the principle of Individual Rights.
Nothing more — and nothing less."  {blog 8/2012}
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"A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others."  {blog 9/2012}
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"There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil."  {blog 10/2012}

"Man is the only living species that has the power to act as his own destroyer – and that is the way he has acted through
most of his history."  {blog 10/2012}

"To achieve, you need thought. You have to know what you are doing and that's real power."  {blog 10/2012}
•      •
"Romanticism ... deals, not with the random trivia of the day, but with the timeless, fundamental, universal problems and values
of human existence. It does not record or photograph; it creates and projects. It is concerned – in the words of Aristotle
not with things as they are, but with things as they might be and ought to be."  {blog 12/2012}
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"The purpose of mortality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live."  {blog 7/2013}

"The desire not to be anything is the desire not to be.”  {blog 7/2013}
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"Philosophy is the goal toward which religion was only a helplessly blind groping."  {blog 8/2013}
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"The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities."  {blog 11/2013}
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"The three cardinal values of the Objectivist ethics ... are: Reason, Purpose, Self-Esteem, with their three corresponding
virtues: Rationality, Productiveness, Pride."  {blog 12/2013}
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"Religion is a primitive form of philosophy."  {blog 12/2013}
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"If anyone destroys this country it will be the conservatives."  {blog 2/2014}


Ayn Rand Quotations Not Yet Used on Blog

"To deal with men by force is as impractical as to deal with nature by persuasion."

"Intellectual honesty is the only tool required."

"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." (appendix to "Atlas Shrugged", 1957)

"[T]he only real moral crime that one man can commit against another is the attempt to create, by his words or actions, an impression of the contradictory, the impossible, the irrational, and thus shake the concept of rationality in his victim."

"If I were to speak your kind of language, I would say that man's only moral commandment is: Thou shalt think. But a 'moral commandment' is a contradiction in terms. The moral is the chosen, not the forced; the understood, not the obeyed. The moral is the rational, and reason accepts no commandments."

"I consider National Review the worst and most dangerous magazine in America. The kind of defense that it offers to capitalism results in nothing except the discrediting and destruction of capitalism . . . because it ties capitalism to religion." (Playboy Interview March 1964)

"So you think that money is the root of all evil. Have you ever asked what is the root of all money?"
(Francisco's Money Speech in "Atlas Shrugged", 1957)

"Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe.
Civilization is the process of setting man free from men." ('The Fountainhead' 1943)

"There is a level of cowardice lower than that of the conformist: the fashionable non-conformist."

"The right to vote is a consequence, not a primary cause, of a free social system – and its value depends on the constitutional structure implementing and strictly delimiting the voters' power; unlimited majority rule is an instance of the principle of tyranny."

"Whatever their future, at the dawn of their lives, men seek a noble vision of man's nature and of life's potential." ('The Fountainhead' 1943)

"The moral justification of capitalism does not lie in the altruist claim that it represents the best way to achieve 'the common good'. It is true that capitalism does – if that catch-phrase has any meaning – but this is merely a secondary consequence. The moral justification for capitalism lies in the fact that it is the only system consonant with man's rational nature, that it protects man's survival qua man, and that its ruling principle is: justice."

"Guilt is a rope that wears thin."

"Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values."
("Atlas Shrugged", 1957)

"It is not advisable, James, to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener."
("Atlas Shrugged", 1957)

"I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction." ('Anthem' 1946)

"The Argument from Intimidation is a confession of intellectual impotence."
('The Virtue of Selfishness' 1964)

"I am an innovator. This is a term of distinction, a term of honor, rather than something to hide or apologize for. Anyone who
has new or valuable ideas to offer stands outside the intellectual status quo. But the status quo is not a stream, let alone a 'mainstream'.
It is a stagnant swamp. It is the innovators who carry mankind forward." (Playboy Interview March 1964)

"What is greatness? I will answer: it is the capacity to live by the three fundamental values of John Galt: reason, purpose, self-esteem."
(Playboy Interview March 1964)

"Definitions are the guardians of rationality, the first line of defense against the chaos of mental disintegration."

"Men have been taught that it is a virtue to agree with others. But the creator is the man who disagrees. Men have been taught
that it is a virtue to swim with the current. But the creator is the man who goes against the current. Men have been taught that
it is a virtue to stand together. But the creator is the man who stands alone."

"To know one's own desires, their meaning and their costs requires the highest human virtue: Rationality."

"The action required to sustain human life is primarily intellectual: Everything man needs has to be discovered
by his mind and produced by his effort."

"No concept man forms is valid unless he integrates it without contradiction into the sum of his knowledge."

"I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows. This – the supremacy of reason – was, is and will be the primary concern of my work, and the essence of Objectivism." ('Brief Summary', The Objectivist Sept 1971)

"What objectivity and the study of philosophy requires is not an 'open mind,' but an active mind - a mind able and eagerly willing to examine ideas, but to examine them criticially." ("Philosophical Detection" in 'Philosophy: Who Needs It')

"When I say 'capitalism,' I mean a pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism – with a separation of economics,
in the same way and for the same reasons as a separation of state and church."
("The Objectivist Ethics" in 'The Virtue of Selfishness')

"You have no choice about the necessity to integrate your observations, your experiences, your knowledge into abstract ideas, i.e., into principles. Your only choice is whether these principles are true or false, whether they represent your conscious, rational convictions – or a grab-bag of notions snatched at random, whose sources, validity, context and consequences you do not know, notions which, more often that not, you would drop like a hot potato if you knew. ('Philosophy: Who Needs It')

"Capitalism is the only system that can make freedom, individuality, and the pursuit of values possible in practice." ('Romantic Manifesto')

"In order to live, man must act; in order to act, he must make choices; in order to make choices, he must define a code of values; in order to define a code of values, he must know what he is and where he is – i.e. he must know his own nature (including his means of knowledge) and the nature of the universe in which he acts – i.e. he needs metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, which means: philosophy. He cannot escape from this need; his only alternative is whether the philosophy guiding him is to be chosen by his mind or by chance."

"If a dedication page were to precede the total of my work, it would read:
To the glory of Man." ('Romantic Manifesto')

"Show me your achievement, and the knowledge will give me courage for mine."
('The Fountainhead' 1943)

"Altruism declares that any action taken for the benefit of others is good, and any action taken for one's own benefit is evil. Thus the beneficiary
of an action is the only criterion of moral value – and so long as that beneficiary is anybody than oneself, anything goes."

"The man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap."

"The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity."

"Why do they always teach us that it's easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It's the hardest thing
in the world – to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage. I mean, what we really want."

"Le bonheur est un ιtat de plaisir non-contradictoire . . . Le bonheur est accessible aux seules personnes raisonnables, des personnes qui n'ont
que des objectifs raisonnables, qui ne cherchent que des valeurs raisonnables, et qui ne trouvent leur plaisir que dans des actes raisonnables."
('La Virtue Egoist')
"Happiness is a state of non-contradictory joy . . . 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."
('The Virtue of Selfishness')

"The objectivist ethics holds man's life as the standard of value
– and his own life as the ethical purpose of every individual man."

"Productive work is the central purpose of a rational man's life, the central value that integrates and determines the hierarchy of all
his other values. Reason is the source, the precondition of his productive work – pride is the result."

"To hold an unchanging youth is to reach at the end, the vision with which one started."

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