I am currently reading ‘The Fountainhead’ by Ayn Rand, and can’t help but feel that it’s the philosophy I myself believe in. She puts forth a way of living life. A philosophy to live by. To express it, she wrote three novels. And that philosophy is Objectivism.
I am not even done with the book, but I am so impressed by it that I want to share what I understand from it. It’s difficult to try to express this philosophy in just a few words, when the author herself had to write three fat novels to do just that. The part I find most meaningful is the reasoning behind the actions of the protagonists.
Some of their qualities are: not doing something just because you are expected to do it, or just because other people believe so, or even that tradition dictates so. Reason all you say and do. Listen to your heart even if it makes you look like a crazy weirdo. At least you are an individual, you have your opinions and you stand for your views.
In the words of the author herself: “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.” The book’s cover says that the idea put forth in the book in one line would be, “Man’s ego is the fountainhead of human progress.” I have yet to understand these statements, as I have yet to complete the book. But these views do resonate. Only when man looks forward as to what is meaningful and reasonable, can he progress. He has to let go of traditional notions and beliefs.
The book is about architecture, and an architect who envisions buildings in a way that would make sense and not how the ancients would have built them. The critics criticize his buildings because they think that the public believes so and expects respecting traditions. He disregards all tradition, does what he feels right and brings meaning into each and every part of the house so that it comes together as one single entity. He comes across people who have no reasoning of their own and only live by the rules that they think other people think would be right. Often, he fails to explain to these people his reasoning because they have none of their own. They are hollow. They are just filled with other people’s thoughts, pictures of tradition and if these dead material things are what make up a man then that man himself is a material dead thing. How can you reason with such a thing?
When he asks why they don’t commission the building he has designed, the client says that they want a traditional building because other people would like it. Because thats how its always been. Because you can’t play with tradition. Never would they say, that they like traditional buildings because that’s what they believe in. They have no opinion of their own. Empty shells, full of other people’s opinions who were themselves empty shells. Doing things just because they feel that’s what people expect. Worrying what other people will say or what other people believe or what other people do.
Empty. Shells. Objectivism is reasoning everything except your heart.
Originally published at paramaggarwal.com.