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The above passage always struck me when I first read Atlas Shrugged as a teen. Out of context it seems a little bit arrogant, but in the context as it's spoken by the broken Dr. Stadler, it's much more poignant. The desire to find a mind of equal stature--or higher stature--so you can have someone to talk to--or look up to. People always know about Ayn Rand's "selfishness" and her defense of those near the top. They often assume she placed herself amoung their number. Sometimes she did, but in reading her works, you find that she was pleased to find those "better" than her. She was looking for heroes, and trying to give them the moral ammunition to stay heroic.
Ayn Rand, a philosopher-novelist of the mid twentieth century, was an interesting figure who upheld a common-sense philosophy known as Objectivism. She uncompromisingly fought for the ideas of individual rights, capitalism, and egoism (rational selfishness).
An example of such rational selfishness is seen in the passage quoted above. Someone who constantly worries about those he competes with isn't selfish; he is selfless. He loses all sense of self because he bases his identity on how well those he competes against are doing. A truly noble person doesn't curse those whose achievements overshadow his own. He merely continues his work to the best of his ability. To paraphrase someone whose name escapes me (to be honest, it may have been in an episode of South Park): "He doesn't try to be the best man; he just tries to be a man."
Unlike modern conservatives, she used a unique strategy in order to argue for her ideas: She started as far back towards the foundations of thought as possible and used reason to prove that her ideas were an inevitable necessity according to the facts of reality. Every one of her "opinions" can be traced back to the idea that "Existence Exists," that everything we see around us is real. If you agree with that premise, you can follow her logic and agree with her other ideas.
I find such rigorous use of logic and induction refreshing compared to the hazy form of thought utilized by many of today's authors and intellectuals, which is why he has read many of her books and visits Ayn Rand web sites regularly. (Some might argue he visits them more than is necessary.)
Ben's Objectivism Pages
"Outside" Ayn Rand Related Web Sites:
This page contains non-copyrighted information that is completely worthless, as well as copyrighted material (the cited passage of Atlas Shrugged). However, if you want to reproduce this page in any manner, I would prefer that you ask my permission.