I’ve just finished reading For The New Intellectual. The first half of this book is an essay and the remainder is quotes from Rand’s various works of fiction. The last section is the entire speech in full of John Galt, taken from Atlas Shrugged. If there is ever a more resounding, compelling, intellectually-triumphant, philosophically-adept piece of literature I am yet to read it.
I’ve often dismissed theists for such condescending remarks as “read the bible and Jesus will reveal himself to you”, as if reading a few chapters from an archaic work of fiction will change my life. But not one book of the bible or the entire hodgepodge of junk in it can compare to John Galt’s speech. Perhaps I spoke too soon though: one piece of literature can change your life, if it’s the right piece. Now, I haven’t read Atlas Shrugged all the way through, and John Galt’s speech hasn’t necessarily changed my life because I’m already familiar with the philosophy of Ayn Rand, but, if I’d just read it for the first time, I’d be a brave man to predict that it wouldn’t have changed my entire worldview – I mean that.
Incidentally, this is why the mystical fabrication of religion is so pathetic and vacuous; what “holy book” addresses the nature of existence, the law of identity, man as a rational being, the definition of morality?; what other work of fact or fiction so eloquently obliterates philosophical scepticism; identifies the virtuous corollaries of selfishness and the inescapable death of sacrifice; establishes the root cause of so much unhappiness, despair, misery, poverty, and failure in the world?; determines the correct and proper political setup; proclaims man’s happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life, and his mind as the only way to attain it?
Galt’s speech is quite a read! I read it for a few hours in work last week, (disclaimer in case my boss reads this: it was over the holiday period; whilst others were playing games and quizzes I was reading about capitalism in order to make my company more profitable!), and finished it off tonight in a few more hours! Time well spent.
There are many ways to get to grips with Objectivism, but if you’re an intelligent person, not emotionally committed to your prior beliefs, and with an honest desire to acquire a philosophy (epistemology, metaphysics, morality, politics, aesthetics) for a rational happy person, you should just read John Galt’s speech. It’s as simple as that.