Ayn Rand (1905- 1982) was a Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright and screenwriter. She is highly known for her best-selling fiction novels: The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged as well as for defining and developing a revolutionary philosophical system called Objectivism. Rand was born and educated in Russia, then emigrated to the United States in 1926. She first achieved fame with the publication of The Fountainhead in 1943 and her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged was published in 1957.
John Galt is a fictional character from Ayn Rand's novel. Galt is an inventor who embodies the virtues of an egoist, capitalist and individualist. Galt's character serves as a heroic counterpoint to a socialistic, altruistic economic social structure. The world in Atlas Shrugged is crumbling due to oppressive bureaucratic practices that interfere with the economy and stifle individual liberty and judgment. In this sense, John Galt can be metaphorically compared to Atlas of Greek Mythology who held the world on his shoulders.
If I were asked to summarize the philosophy of Objectivism in a single sentence, I would say that Objectivism holds:
a) that existence, reality, the external world, is what it is, independent of man's consciousness, independent of anyone's knowledge, judgment, beliefs, hopes, wishes or fears - that facts are facts, that A is A, that things are what they are;
b) that reason, the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man's senses...
To understand the philosophy of Objectivism requires a serious commitment to the study of various writings and lectures that have been made available since the birth of the Objectivist movement. Since the Objectivist philosophy challenges the past 2,000 years of thought, it is no surprise that some students may find it difficult at times to integrate the principles and totally break free from ideas rooted in altruism, collectivism and mysticism. To assimilate the fundamental principles of Objectivism may not be particularly difficult. However, the application of basic principles to specific concretes presents students with innumerable challenges. At The Culture of Reason Center (CRC), we recognize that every individual contributes a different context of knowledge and different methodologies for handling abstract ideas. By studying Objectivism in a group that is committed to truth and rational persuasion, one can appreciate that others may alert us to facts and perspectives we had not previously considered.