“For the New Intellectual” is one of the most impactful essays I have ever read.  Ayn’s (yes, we are on first name basis) ability to highlight the importance of rational thought, creativity, and ideas is amazing.  The essay is 58 pages and the rest of the book contains excerpts from each of her novels.  My notes, which are in order of which they were taken from the book, follow.  Keep in mind these are notes, and Rand is much more eloquent and thorough than I am.  This is going to be a long post, I highly recommend you go skim the whole thing and find at least one idea to think about or challenge.

I hope after you reading this you will see that Rand was not a heartless bitch.  Also, I hope you see that Objectivism is a philosophy is one which supports the love of life.  Having a rational sense of self interest is the most important thing you can do in life.

[A couple things. First, the numbers represent what page the note was taken from.  Second, I’m not a fan of the names “Attila” and “witchdoctor” because it makes them sound ridiculous and separate from our own experience.  But to stay consistent with Ms.  Rand I’m sticking with her names.  Also, I left the John Galt speech for another post… because it’s fucking huge.]

The stud of the world, Ms Rand

For the New Intellectual

7 From Atlas Shrugged, “The tragic joke of human history is that on any of the altars men erected, it was always man whom they immolated and the animal whom they enshrined. It was always the animal’s attributes, not man’s that humanity worshiped…”  It bugs me when people say things like, “must be nice to be a dog, don’t got to worry bout nothin.”

8  When men abandon reason, they will be ruled by force (Rand personifies it as Attila) or faith (personified by the witchdoctor). When people neglect thought and personal responsibility they give away their freedoms.  When people stop using reason they’ll believe in anything.  They’ll believe in a man in the skies watching their every move.  They’ll believe that this man will punish them if they don’t act in accordance with his book of uninterpretable, conflicting rules.  Or they’ll just believe that prosperity is not achieved by hard work, creativity, and entrepreneurship but by hope and change.  Once you give up reason, it’s easy for violence against you to be justified.  The key part of both Attila and the witchdoctor is that they yearn for automatic ease of behaving in the effortless way of an animal.

10 Attila does not originate his pleasures, “he desires and pursues whatever those around him seem to find desirable.” This is just another area where he does not create, but takes over.  This is a huge point to me, and it resonates with the idea of investing in experiences over things.  It’s always good to think about why you want something.

12  The only validation of consciousness of a witchdoctor is the belief and obedience of others, when people accept their “truth” as superior to their own perception of reality. Attila achieves this by the club.  The witchdoctor’s method isn’t as straightforward and much, much more effective.  The witchdoctor preempts the field of morality.  Morality is a set of values to guide a man’s choices or actions.  Essentially, if your morality is working against your life or your mind then you know something is very fucking wrong with it.

15 What’s much more common, and much more sad, than witchdoctors is those who go through life “in a state of unfocused stupor, merely repeating the words and the motions they learned from others.” Is it ironic that I just quoted that?  Nah, I think I do enough unique, creative work to make up for it.

16 Most people are rational once in a while.  Those people who have the most impact are those who are most consistent (for better or for worse.)  The least consistent are the the echoes of the consistent

Irrationality is always the default state of reaction.  When we do not consciously think about reactions we are animalistic.  Attila and the witchdoctor are the benefactors of this reaction. Think of how each time we fear something as a nation there is a major power grab in the government.

18 “Just as the witchdoctor is impotent without Attila, so Attila is impotent without the Witch Doctor; neither can make his power last without the other.  Politically, the centuries of Greco-Roman civilization were still dominated by Attila (by the rule of local tyrants or tribal aristocracies), but it was a tame, uncertain, subdued Attila, who had to contend with the influence of philosophy (not of faith) in men’s minds.  The best aspects of Western civilization still owe their roots to the intellectual achievements of that era.”  This stemmed from Aristotle’s realization that A is A, that there is “only one reality, the one which man perceives – that it exists as an objective absolute (which means: independently of the consciousness, the wishes or the feelings of any perceiver) – that the task of man’s consciousness is to perceive, not create, reality – that abstractions are man’s method of integrating his sensory material – that man’s mind is his only tool of knowledge…”

21 “A society based on and geared to the conceptual level of man’s consciousness, a society dominated by a philosophy of reason, has no place for the rule of fear and guilt.  Reason requires freedom, self-confidence and self-esteem.  It requires the righ to think and to act on the guidance of one’s thinking – the right to live by one’s own independent judgement.  Intellectual freedom cannot exist without political freedom; political freedom cannot exist without economic freedom; a free mind and a free market are corollaries.”

21  “Capitalism wiped out slavery in matter and in spirit.  It replaced Attila and the Witch Doctor, the looter of wealth and the purveyor of revelations, with two new types of man: the producer of wealth and the purveyor of knowledge – the businessman and the intellectual.

22  The intellectual carries philosophical ideas to all fields of human endeavor.

23  “The professional businessman is the field agent of the army whose lieutenant-commander-in-chief is the scientist.” The businessman carries scientists’ discoveries from labs to manufacturing facilities to the masses.  Businessmen fill needs and expand comfort for mankind through expanding markets.

23  Most people say we have made material progress but not spiritual progress, these people always suggest abandoning material progress as a solution.

34  Karl Marx is “the most consistent translator of the altruist morality into practical action and political theory… was granted the status of a noble, but impractical idealist.” This is one of the most disturbing things I see regularly.  “This time will be different, they just didn’t know how to implement good social programs.”  When people are forced to work for others and not themselves, not much is going to get done.

35The failure of philosophers to challenge the Witch Doctor’s morality, has cost them their kingdom: philosophy.  The relationship of reason and morality is reciprocal: the man who accepts the role of a sacrificial animal, will not achieve the self-confidence necessary to uphold the validity of his mind – the man who doubts the validity of his mind, will not achieve the self-esteem necessary to uphold the value and of his person and to discover the moral premises that make man’s value possible.”

We the Living

67 Even if we are just a speck of dust in the universe, a nothing compared to the vastness of our universe, it doesn’t matter because happiness is possible here and now.  Happiness is our goal in life and it doesn’t need anything to vindicate it.

The Fountainhead

Second Handers:

-… have no self, they live within others

they aim for greatness in others’ eyes, not to be great.

74  They derive self-respect from what others think of him. For example, a man who is dishonest but thought to be honest and derives self-respect from that.

74  They ask, “Is this what others believe is true?” instead of “Is this true?”

75 Prestige is their delusion.

76 All true happiness is private.  Our greatest moments are self motivated.

*If you have a self-sufficient ego, nothing else matters.

The Soul of a Collectivist:

77 One becomes a collectivist by being made to feel small, guilty, stripped of aspirations and integrity.  He is told he must sacrifice himself for others – that altruism is the ideal.  By setting total self-sacrifice the goal it makes men feel they can never be fully good. “Kill man’s sense of values.  Kill his capacity to recognize greatness or to achieve it.  Great men can’t be ruled… Don’t deny the conception of greatness.  Destroy it from within.

78 “Enshrine mediocrity – and the shrines are razed.”

79 “You must tell people that they’ll achieve a superior kind of happiness by giving up everything that makes them happy.”

The Soul of an Individualist

84 Great work is not done for the sake of others but for its own sake. A great thing is a man’s goal and his life.

86 The creator originates. The parasite borrows.  The creator faces nature alone.  The parasite faces nature through an intermediary.”

87 “Men have been taught that their first concern is to relieve the suffering of others.  But suffering is a disease.  Should one come upon it, one tries to give relief and assistance.  To make sufferin the highest test of virtue is to make suffering the most important part of life.  Then man must wish to see others suffer – in order that he may be virtuous.  Such is the nature of altruism.  The creator is not concerned with disease, but with life.  Yet the work of the creators has eliminated one form of disease after another, in man’s body and spirit, and brought more relief from suffering than any altruist could ever conceive.”

87 “Men have been taught that it is a virtue to stand together.  But the creator is the man who stands alone.”  Agreement is not a virtue.

90 Those who rule as tyrants or emperors are not creators; they are as dependent as a beggar on other people.


98 When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money.  Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow … Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money.”  When money is created out of proportion with the amount of value created your wallet is looted.

98 “An honest man is one who knows that he can’t consume more than he has produced.”

99 Money has the ability to fulfill desires but the ability to provide you with desires.  “Money is the scourge of the men who attempt to reverse the law of causality – the men who seek to replace the mind by seizing products of the mind.”

99  “Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants: money will not give him a code of values, if he’s evaded the knowledge of what to value, and it will not provide him with a purpose, if he’s evaded the choice of what to seek.”  This means that money can only buy happiness if you know what makes you happy.  Money won’t give you confidence, self worth, honor, or respect.

100  “If an heir is equal to his money, it serves him; if not, it destroys him.” This means that money does not corrupt people, but is corrupted by them.

101  Men who love money tend to have earned it honorably; those who despise money have not.

104  Money is CREATED, not only transferred. Wealth is not a zero sum game.  When you create value and become wealthy, you don’t take from others but inevitably must provide value for them.

109  The public good should never require victims. “The rich”, anybody?

109 The same man that tries to gain self-respect from money will try to gain it from sex as well.

130 “If there is a more tragic fool than the businessman who doesn’t know that he’s an exponent of man’s highest creative spirit 0 it’s the artist who thinks that the businessman is his enemy.”  In order to be a successful businessman you must bring the most quality product to consumers at the most reasonable price (in a capitalist system).