by Ayn Rand
Atlas Shrugged Philosophical Viewpoints: Objectivism Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Volume.Chapter.Section.Page). We used the 50th Anniversary Edition published by Signet Books in 2007.
"Reality is that which exists; the unreal does not exist; the unreal is merely that negation of existence which is the content of a human consciousness when it attempts to abandon reason. Truth is the recognition of reality; reason, man's only means of knowledge, is his only standard of truth." (220.127.116.11)
Galt's views here are part of one of the book's more interesting, and largely implicit, debates on the nature of reality. Galt says reality is "objective," meaning that people don't define it themselves. (So Galt wouldn't have been a fan of The Matrix.) But to what extent is Galt defining reality himself here, in opposition to the looters?
"My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single axiom: existence exists – and in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from these. To live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life: Reason – Purpose – Self-Esteem. Reason, as his only tool of knowledge – Purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve – Self-Esteem, as his inviolate certainty that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means: is worthy of living." (18.104.22.168)
Galt outlines the basic principles of his philosophy here. Life is all about reason, what people use to live well; purpose, how people live a good life; and self-esteem, why they live a good life – for themselves.