Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Philosophical Novel

Reading Atlas Shrugged

To achieve, you need thought. You have to know what you are doing and that's real power.  - Ayn Rand

Atlas Shrugged is included in at least one list of the top ten philosophical novels (Alternative Reel). I know I would include it on my own list, and while rereading it recently for a class on the "Moral Defense of Capitalism" (University of Chicago Basic Program of Liberal Education) I was reminded that, while Rand's prose style has worn a bit thin for me, the philosophical questions that are addressed both implicitly in the archetypal characters, representing both good and evil, and explicitly in the philosophical essays incorporated as pronouncements by some of the leading characters (these essays are available separately in a book entitled For The New Intellectual) are those that remain fundamental for anyone who is interested in identifying a moral basis for living a flourishing human life. The most impressive, longest and some might say massive pronouncement in the novel is "Galt's Speech". It is here that John Galt provides a summary of his philosophy and that of his compatriots in "Galt's Gulch"; it is a philosophy for man based on reason and would become known as Objectivism in Rand's non-fiction writings. Rereading this philosophical tome has also reminded me of the important questions that need to be asked and the answers that need to be searched for. Ayn Rand would later sum up the need for this sort of thoughtfulness in her essay "Philosophy: Who Needs It?". The answer to that question is that we all do, and I find reading philosophical novels like Atlas Shrugged to be helpful in the process of defining my personal philosophy.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Random House, New York. 1957.
For the New Intellectual: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. Random House, New York. 1961.


Christian Prophet said...

Ayn Rand is so thoroughly misinterpreted! You may or may not have seen the article: "Ayn Rand, 20th Century Prophetess."

James said...

Thanks for your comment and the link to the article.