Ayn Rand, the writer widely known for her best-selling novels: "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged," is also a renowned philosopher credited for developing a philosophical system she called "Objectivism." An advocate of Individualism and free-market capitalism (she grew up during the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia), she is often misunderstood as an extreme Conservative, due to her associations with the Republican Party. But she specifically clarified her position as follows -- "I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows." She vehemently opposed statism, which she understood to include theocracy, absolute monarchy, Nazism, fascism, communism, democratic socialism, and dictatorship.
In her book, "The Romantic Manifesto," she tackles the subject of "Art," and clearly defines its nature and its place in the order of human endeavor. I highly recommend it to every Artist (no matter what discipline) as a definitive philosophical treatise on the topic of Art and its purpose in our lives. Like all philosophical expositions, this aesthetic manifesto suffers from the author's own biases and limitations (photography and cinema were not even considered in her list of Arts) for Ayn Rand is human after all. But if we are mindful of these minor flaws, we can readily distill the brilliance of her discourse. Reading it gave me a clearer understanding of my role as an artist, and it also offered me an outline of an ideal to strive for in my own work.
Here is a brief excerpt from the book. I always marvel at the clarity and the precision of Ayn Rand's statements and definitions: