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From Notes on "The Moral Basis of Individualism"

In 1943, Ayn Rand began work on a prospective non-fiction book, to be titled The Moral Basis of Individualism. The book itself was never published, but Rand did make extensive notes for it. These are Rand's private notes, not polished material ready for publication, and may not be entirely consistent with her later published views. The project was eventually dropped in favor of her new novel, the eventual bestseller Atlas Shrugged.


On the Basis of Morality

The following excerpt is from notes dated October 25, 1944, as published posthumously in Journals of Ayn Rand, pp. 265-266:

In answer to the question: "If a morality is not based on the common good, what is it then based on?": on a definition of the moral individual and on that which is good for him. The moral individual is the best and highest possible to man. By what standard? By the essence of man's nature. The man living in accordance with his nature is the moral man and the "surviving" man -- he carries the life force, the life principle, he is the self-renewing "energy" and the fountainhead. What is man's nature? Man is a reasoning being.

And since morality is a matter of free will, open to all but the insane -- the good of the moral man is good for all, i.e., for all those who wish to be moral.

What is good? That which is in accordance with the life principle of man. The independent, the self-reverent, the self-sufficient.

Do I set myself up as an arbitrary elite and formulate a morality for my own kind of elite, at the expense of others? No, because it is not to be enforced upon "others" or anyone. "Others" are free not to accept it and not to subscribe to it; they may have their own kind of collectivism, altruism or whatever they wish. But they are not free to enforce it upon me and my "elite" -- they are not free to arrange their collectivism at our expense. The objective dividing line is: no man exists for the sake of another man. [...]

This point -- no man exists for the sake of another man -- must be established very early in my system. It is one of the main cornerstones -- and perhaps even the basic axiom.

All emphasis was in the original. Omissions from the text are shown with bracketed ellipses. All other punctuation and spelling is from the original.


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