Objectivism is a philosophy defined by the Russian-American philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand (1905–1982). Objectivism holds that reality exists independent of consciousness, that human beings have direct contact with reality through sense perception, that one can attain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive and deductive logic, that the proper moral purpose of one’s life is the pursuit of one’s own happiness or rational self-interest, that the only social system consistent with this morality is full respect for individual rights, embodied in laissez faire capitalism, and that the role of art in human life is to transform man’s widest metaphysical ideas, by selective reproduction of reality, into a physical form—a work of art—that he can comprehend and to which he can respond emotionally.
Rand originally expressed her philosophical ideas in her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and other works. She further elaborated on them in her magazines The Objectivist Newsletter, The Objectivist, andThe Ayn Rand Letter, and in non-fiction books such as Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology and The Virtue of Selfishness.
The name “Objectivism” derives from the principle that human knowledge and values are objective: they are not created by the thoughts one has, but are determined by the nature of reality, to be discovered by man’s mind. Rand stated that she chose the name because her preferred term for a philosophy based on the primacy of existence—”existentialism“—had already been taken.