Reason as the Leading Motive


Posted by Jerry on October 12, 2006

People have the right to do wrong, Rand said. And thus, the necessity of philosophy as a moral guide to life on Earth seems undoubtedly evident.

However, sometimes philosophy needs to be stylized and presented in concrete and striking forms. The purpose of art–according to Rand’s romantic realism–is precisely to fulfill this need. However, not all art needs to be such–nor will it be such–because along with the right to do wrong, people also have the right to create what they want [I’m deliberately omitting qualifications to this for brevity].

John Enright recently wrote a brief post alluding to the reason why Objectivism advocates the romantic–as opposed to the naturalistic–approach to art.

In “Forms of Grace,” John says:

There was a quote I liked from tonight’s Battlestar Gallactica episode. This isn’t exact:

“Symbols are important. They’re like pieces of your heart you can see.”

Branden’s visibility theory of love, and Rand’s theory of art, both turn on the idea behind this metaphor – the idea of being able to *see* your inner values outside of you.

It’s important for Rand. It validates her Romantic streak within her Enlightenment intellectual context. Loved ones and compelling art works are categorized as things needed for survival, because seeing the pieces of your heart is both clarifying and motivating.

How often our minds
Feed on outward signs.

John’s post also reminded me of my reaction to the movie “V for Vendetta.” I loved watching the movie precisely because it functioned splendidly as a form of Art: it concretized in striking visual form the values I hold (such as freedom, autonomy, etc.) and what could happen when those values are denied to an individual, society, or a nation. The movie also concretized various other metaphysical viewpoints that I explicitly reject, such as the mind-body duality, platonic idealism, rationalism, etc., and permitted me to confirm through the visual medium of the movie the concrete reasons why I reject them.

Thus, good art could not only affirm the values you hold, but could also present to you ideas that you reject and provide you with concrete reasons for rejecting them.

2 Responses to “Romanticism”

  1. John Enright said

    I too found V for Vendetta very moving.

  2. Melissa Pinto said


    I read about the “Ayn Rand at 100” book launch really late. I was browsing online to find someone who is well versed with her works willing to do a “Book Reading Session” and give a brief address on Objectivism. Till now all i seem to reach is dead ends.

    So I am really hoping you could help me out.


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