Ayn Rand (1905-1982)

Ayn Rand was an influential writer who founded her own philosophy, based on reason, self-interest, and capitalism. She believes that knowledge is possible through the sole use of reason. Feelings, instincts, and faith are not only unreliable means for directing one’s life and learning about the world. Reliance on them actually undermines our ability to be productive human beings.

Human consciousness has three aspects, sensations, perceptions, and conceptions. The first two are shared with animals. The last (conceptions) is what makes someone a person.Regardless of whether or not the person works to develop all three aspects, they must be integrated to some degree in order to give the person a frame of reference for his/her own existence..

The developmental stage of conception is when one possesses the ability “to integrate peceptions into conceptions by a process of abstraction which is performed by choice.” (P. 197.) This is also called the ability to reason, to think. “It is not automatic nor instinctive nor involuntary nor infallible. Man has to initiate it, to sustain it and to bear responsibility for it.” (Ibid.) "Man is the only living being who has to perceive reality - which means: to be conscious - by choice." For man, knoweldge and unsterstanding are the means for survival. While animals survive by adjusting to the environment or "background," Rand believed that humans survive by changing the environment to suite his.her needs or desires.

The world is made of four archetypes of human beings, Attila, the Witch Doctor, Ballast, and the Producer.

Ballast are those who "go through life in a state of unfocused stupor, merely repeating the words and the motions they learned from others." (p. 200)

Attila rebels against reason by focusing on the physical means for survival. Specifically, Attila chooses to physically conquer those who choose to conquer nature. Attila tries to take by force the things that others produce. Attila bases his/her actions on sensations (urges, desires, aversions). Attila focuses on materialistic pleasures,those things that do not require much use of reason, specifically conceptions. Since the conceptual aspect of consciousness cannot be wholly neglected, Attila searches for something that gives his/her life meaning or a sense of being right. The Witch Doctor provides Attila with a code of values.

The Witch Doctor rebels against reason by attempting to conquer those who conquer the Producers. The Witch Doctor does not conquer Attila physically, but psychologically. The Witch Doctor rebels against reason by denying the ability to change nature. The Witch Doctor views the objects of sense as immutable. He/she believes that his/her feelings and senses can provide infallible knowledge of the universe. If reality clashes with what the Witch Doctor believes is true, then the Witch Doctor ignores reality. The Witch Doctor sets him/herself up as the authority on truth. This is how he/she conquers others, by convincing them that they ought to deny their own thoughts and ideas and blindly accept the Witch Doctor's ideas as true. The Witch Doctor sets him/herself up as the authority on right and wrong.

While Attila focuses on the concrete and neglects abstraction, the Witch Doctor focuses on the abstract and neglects the concrete. Neither is adequate to deal with existence. So, the Witch Doctor and Attila become dependent upon each other. Together, they use fear and guilt to control the Ballast and undermine the Producers.

The Producers use consciousness to its fullest. The producers think and work in order to make conscious decisions about existence. The Producers are most fully human. One may function on a fully conscious level only some of the time. But to that extent, one becomes an active creator of one's life, rather than a simple subject of nature.

"When men do not choose to reach the conceptual level, their consciousness has no recourse but to its automatic, perceptual, semi-animal functions." This explains why most societies have been ruled by Attila (force) and the Witch Doctor (feelings). The fault is ours because we did not choose otherwise.