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Ayn Rand's Philosophy of Objectivism, Recommended Reading

Updated on August 7, 2007

Revolutionary Philosophy of Ayn Rand

Suggested Reading sequence of works to better learn the Philosophy

This reading list is intended as a suggested sequence of books and essays for those who are interested in Ayn Rand's ideas and want to read further, but aren't sure where to start or how to proceed. This is by no means a comprehensive or definitive list of the Objectivist literature. It is recommended as a way to get started and follow the philosophy to more involved concepts. For a complete list of books by and about Ayn Rand, visit Ayn Rand's Books,

1. The Fountainhead

2. Atlas Shrugged

3. "Philosophy: Who Needs It" in Philosophy: Who Needs It

4. "Philosophy and Sense of Life" in The Romantic Manifesto

5. "For the New Intellectual" in For the New Intellectual

6. "Introduction" and "The Objectivist Ethics" in The Virtue of Selfishness

7. "The Metaphysical Versus the Man-Made" in Philosophy: Who Needs It

8. "Causality Versus Duty" in Philosophy: Who Needs It

9. "The Ethics of Emergencies" in The Virtue of Selfishness

10. "The 'Conflicts' of Men's Interests" in The Virtue of Selfishness

11. "Doesn't Life Require Compromise?" in The Virtue of Selfishness

12. "How does One Lead a Rational Life in an Irrational Society?" in The Virtue of Selfishness

13. "The Cult of Moral Grayness" in The Virtue of Selfishness

14. "Man's Rights" in The Virtue of Selfishness

15. "The Nature of Government" in The Virtue of Selfishness

16. "What is Capitalism?" in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

17. "'Extremism,' or The Art of Smearing" in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

18. "The Roots of War" in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

19. "Conservatism: An Obituary" in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

20. "Racism" in The Virtue of Selfishness

21. "The Cashing-in: The Student 'Rebellion'" in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

22. "The Anti-Industrial Revolution" in Return of the Primitive:The Anti-Industrial Revolution

23. "The Psycho-Epistemology of Art" in The Romantic Manifesto

24. "Art and Sense of Life" in The Romantic Manifesto

25. Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Peikoff

As a general reference: The Ayn Rand Lexicon, edited by Harry Binswanger; a "mini-encyclopedia" of Objectivism, compiled from Ayn Rand's own writings; includes key passages on 400 topics in philosophy, economics, and psychology

Reference Ayn Rand Institute for titles:


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    • LibertyLiterature profile image

      LibertyLiterature 7 years ago from Brisbane, Australia

      I agree with reasonjester.

      Rand is a real life-changer/saver.

    • profile image

      reasonsjester 7 years ago

      Eric, the reality is the obverse of what you say. Ayn Rand specifically grounds her philosophy in objective reality and derives her epistemology and ethics from there. If the world does not match her ideals, that is the entire basis of her criticism. The left can be dismissive all it likes, Rand is a serious philosopher and her works are here to stay.

    • bobm288 profile image

      bobm288 10 years ago

      Eric, thank you for your comments. Definitely to learn about Ayn Rand's life and ideas one should read "The Passion of Ayn Rand" by Barbara Branden. And also see the very good movie based on the book as a Show Time movie of a couple years ago, likely now in vidio stores. Yes there are some of Rand's perhaps irrational behavior related in the book, as Brandon would know as she and her husband were major players in the life of Ayn Rand. Barbara is still, however, a staunch supporter of Rand's philosophy and ideas.

      I do not think it is logical, however, to discredit a philosopher's ideas based on the idiosyncracies of his life. Gee Whiz we would throw out everyone as genuis is often decried by us more normal wonks. Karl Marx, for example, was a real wierd dude.

      You say Objectivism is not based on the real world. I suppose you are going to say that Marx and his real world being only about class conflict is based on the "real world"? I think you are actually voicing your opinion and nothing more. I think Rand checked her premises as much as Marx did. You saying trying to maximize individual freedom will not maximize everone's freedom. Here you are promoting the concept of freedom as being good. Would minimizing individual freedom, such as in Marxism, then leave any with a modicum of freedom, other than the authority or the bosses or commisars. I think you would have degrees of freedom either way, but at least with Rand you would have the capitalists catering to the people to earn their profit. In your state run system the state is a constant, always in charge, never having to compete, never needing the people for anything except taking orders and working as they are told.

      Capitalism does not desire political power as you say, only economic power, or profit. At least this is a detraction compared to your communist state that desires only power, to include all forms of it. And I fully agree with you that idiologies will often fail compared to the power of pragmatism. I believe that Rand tried to expound on the rationality and freedom of private property and free enterprise as being far the best provider, as compared to the communist state and totalitarianism. And yes if one is hungry or has hungry children a theory is a poor subsitute good hot food. And this applies to the theories of Marx or Rand or anyone else. The man that learns who his provider really is in the real streets of the world rather than in the text books of the professors is really the smarter man. We should no more buy Rand than we should buy Marx. Nor should we necessarily buy St Paul over secularism based on a book. Life, in due course, will tell us what is our own particular cup of tea.

      And yes I would like to check out your blog. Thank you.


    • Eric Balkan profile image

      Eric Balkan 10 years ago from Gaithersburg

      Don't you find that Objectivism is entirely based on theory, with no relationship to the real world? Rand would tell people: Check your premises. But she never did herself. Man is often not rational, often does not act in his own self-interest, trying to maximize individual freedom won't maximize everyone's freedom, and unregulated capitalism doesn't maximize the freedom of any but those able to gain economic power (who then use it to gain political power).

      If you want to give an honest picture of Objectivism, you should add The Passion of Ayn Rand by Barbara Branden to the list. At least that provides an explanation of her sometimes irrational behavior.

      Also, my blog at goes into why ideologies in general often fail a reality check.