Aristotle, Rand, Rasmussen, and Beyond

Kaitlyn Pytlak and Natalie Mogan
 
Issue CCCIV - November 10, 2011
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Introduction

            Aristotle, one of the most prominent and well-known philosophers of all time, once commented on the significance of life: “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” Throughout history, philosophers, economists, novelists, and many others have devoted their lives to the study and contemplation of human existence. In this essay, the worldviews of contemporary philosophers such as Douglas Rasmussen and Tibor Machan are compared with the philosophies of older thinkers such as Aristotle and Ayn Rand. Although they do not all hold the same beliefs in their entirety, this paper attempts to exemplify not only their similarity, but their compatibility. Through their extensive examinations of societies, people, rights, governments, and politics, these noted men and women are able to successfully establish the ultimate significance of human life and flourishing in a free society.

 

Aristotle and Human Flourishing

 

Aristotle (384 – 322 B.C.) taught that each man’s life has a purpose and that the purpose of each person’s life is to achieve earthly happiness.  A man must flourish through the use and development of his reason along with the achievement of virtue.  Aristotle based his theory of reason on the premise that knowledge of the world is achieved by seeing and examining what already exists.  He thought that if we wanted to increase our knowledge of the world, we would have to do so by using our reason and our senses to know reality.  Aristotle thought that the ability to reason was the separating factor of man from all other living creatures and that reason would allow man to survive and flourish.  A person could achieve happiness through his own rational conduct and development of his logical abilities.  For Aristotle a full and happy life is essentially living to one’s fullest potentialities.  An entity that lived to its proper function is an entity that performed well in all of its capacities.  The achievement of realized capacities would allow all to understand and strive for human excellence.  According to Aristotle’s teachings, all human beings have the natural ability to recognize and search for the truth.  To craft his argument, he examined various facets of life in their current realistic state. From this, he established the significance of reason and the importance it plays in knowledge. Aristotle believed that people could use their reason to work to their fullest potential. Through reason they can obtain happiness and enjoyment.  He believed people should take pride in their work and always strive for excellence. 

            At the center of his philosophical ideals is the emphasis on man’s unique ability to reason. Aristotle recognizes that reason separates humans from various other types of living creatures. From this, Aristotle concludes that the use of reason allows man to make rational choices in order to personally flourish. Because of man’s distinctive capabilities, he is able to possess knowledge. Reason gives man the ability to think, to choose, and to take action. All of these acts are chosen to aid man in his personal interests (Randall 1960). In other words, all of man’s actions can potentially contribute to his happiness and flourishing.

Aristotle believed man is social by nature, and that it is good for him to live in a society with others.  Social life in a community is a necessary condition for a man to reach his full potential to flourish.  He also said that friendships, active citizen participation, and an interest in government practice are necessary parts of reaching full human potential. 

            According to Aristotle, there is a designed end for all of the actions that humans perform.  His philosophy begins with life itself. Every man’s life has a specific purpose, and that purpose is to flourish. Aristotle, in his writings and teachings, uses the Greek word eudaimonia to express his notion of man’s ultimate life purpose (Ackrill 1980). Eudaimonia is achieved through the use of reason and it allows men to acquire happiness and pleasure and to attain their full potential in life. Eudaimonia is a property of one’s life when considered as a whole.  Flourishing is the highest good of human endeavors and that toward which all actions aim (Younkins 2005). It is very simply human success.  For Aristotle, the best kind of life is a life that is filled with excellent human activity.  In addition, Aristotle acknowledges the importance of an individual’s rational mind and free will.  Aristotle sees the ability to reason, human rationality, and the exercise of free will as essential to human flourishing.  By striving toward excellence in all areas of one’s life, a person can reach his capacities and flourish by the means of his survival.  It is only logical that the “good” that people must work towards is objective but different for each particular man.  To live to the fullest human potential is to live a self-interested life while pursuing the good.

            Along with Aristotle’s emphasis on the vital role of societies, he also advocates being involved in politics. After all, Aristotle viewed the purpose of government as protecting the citizens and their flourishing (Miller 1995). Within his philosophical ideals, Aristotle often noted the superiority of politics to economics. For Aristotle, political involvement is good, and therefore it is beneficial to man’s flourishing and happiness. All human activity should aim toward the ultimate goal of eudaimonia.

In terms of ethics, Aristotle allows that each man is responsible for himself and his own actions.  According to Aristotle, each man has an obligation to strive for excellence and personal achievement.  He explains that a virtuous man is a man who always turns to practical wisdom in the pursuit of a good life (Broadie 1991).  A man wants and needs to have knowledge of virtue in order to become a virtuous person who is able to live to his fullest capacities.  For Aristotle, to be a good person is to take pleasure in good actions with the intention of reaching full excellence.  Full human flourishing takes place when a person is doing what they should be doing while simultaneously doing what they freely choose to do.  When free choice and free will enter into a decision that moves a person toward their full capacities, while proving to be a “good” action, the action can be considered good.  A person must continue to work toward his human excellence in his actions.  In terms of continued moral actions, experience and consistency help to perfect the realization of capacities that will lead toward human flourishing.  Aristotle did not regard ethics as an exact perfect science. He explained that people must choose virtue and learn through their experiences to consider their courses of action for themselves in every situation.  Human flourishing is a moral action that requires fulfillment of human capacities to lead to self-actualization and moral growth (Rorty 1980).  Virtues are the means by which humans achieve human flourishing and happiness. 

Throughout Aristotle’s teachings, he writes of the various ways to achieve happiness in one’s life: using reason, acting virtuously, etc. To Aristotle, living among others in a social setting is essential to human development. Essentially, Aristotle described friendship as being not only beneficial to one’s flourishing, but necessary (Kraut 1989). Within these communities and relationships, he also considers the necessity of goods. By having needs and wants, the community and its individuals naturally hold value to goods. Social aggregation then takes place and helps to create a thriving and prosperous community.

 

Ayn Rand’s Philosophy for Living on Earth

 

Ayn Rand (1905-1982), philosopher and author of the influential novel Atlas Shrugged, crafted a philosophy based on a hierarchical system that includes the concepts of ethics, individualism, and political and economic freedom (Branden 1989).  Rand calls this philosophy Objectivism.  Within the philosophy of Objectivism, Rand explores the subdivisions of both metaphysics and epistemology.  In regards to metaphysics, Rand taught that there are axioms that lay the foundation for all knowledge.  Objectivism is based on the view that man’s mind is competent to achieve objectively valid knowledge of that which exists.  The existence of these axioms is obvious, and the axioms are required aspects of every idea and thought.  From this, Rand argues that man can gain knowledge through the induction of concepts and facts.  Also, Rand stressed that all of these ideas are based on reality (Gotthelf 2000).   Epistemology refers to both the nature and the starting point of all knowledge. Rand explores epistemology by emphasizing the indispensable use of reason.  Reason allows man to organize thoughts and to formulate ideas about the world around them.  Epistemology exists because man is a limited being.   Man must learn in many incremental steps that will lead to knowledge that is necessary for men to live and flourish.   According to Rand, men are not born with innate knowledge.  Therefore, man must utilize reason in order to fully live out a life (Rand 1990).  Like Aristotle, Rand thought that the ability to reason was a unique feature that separated man from the rest of living creatures.   By applying reason, man could flourish and survive.  Once reason is employed, knowledge is gained, and concepts are formed. Simply, a concept can be defined as a condensation of data.  Rand contends that after knowledge is gained, humans are able to survive.  Through the observation of reality, man forms ideas so that conclusions can be made and actions can be lived out to ensure survival. Rand said that man’s senses can only inform him that something is, but what is must be learned by the mind.  The mind must discover the nature of what is and what the causes are in the full context of his sensory material.  Sense experience is the first step in “concept formation” which is based on the recognition of similarity among conceptualized entities.  Concept formation is a mathematical process. Knowledge is part of a hierarchical system with respect to the idea of concept formation. For Rand, essences are epistemological instead of metaphysical. Rand says that for a man to survive he needs knowledge, and reason is his only tool of knowledge.

In accordance with Aristotle, Rand strongly believed in the development and use of man’s reason as a tool.  They both taught that reason increases knowledge, advances happiness, and develops logical abilities. If reason is promoted, it can aid people in their path to reaching their fullest potential (Stolyarov 2011). In the end, reason enriches man’s life and and supplements human flourishing.

Ayn Rand also put emphasis on the concept of rights. To Rand, rights are derived from the nature of man’s needs. Individual rights are the only rights that exist (Sciabarra 1995). In Rand’s philosophy, rights are an ethical concept. The state exists only to protect man’s rights, which are innate.

With respect to ethics, Rand taught that man’s life is ultimately affected by living life along proper guidelines.  These guidelines must include sound principles along with the use of reason.  Every man has a different purpose and therefore, each man must act accordingly to live ethically and to flourish (Mozes 1992, 87-89).  Man uses the knowledge that he has acquired in order to make these decisions.  Once reason is employed, man can recognize and understand specific principles that will help him to lead a successful life.  Together, the specific principles make up a whole known as a “code of morality” which is valuable to man’s life in a relational context (Younkins 2008, 208-209). With her code, Rand describes specific virtues essential to living: productivity, independence, rationality, honesty, integrity, justice, and pride.

Ethics are dependent on man’s pre-moral choice to live. To Rand, once a man decides to live, he will then use ethics and morality to guide his future choices. These various aspects of morality are objective and relational to each man. In the end, objects obtain value based on its relationship to the end of a person’s life. Rand’s ethical philosophy revolves around reality and man’s life. Every choice man makes should be in accord with his own egoistic happiness and survival. If a man values something, he should utilize it for his own happiness. As the valuer, he knows what will aid him in his life (Smith 2006). To Rand, values are metaphysically objective when their attainment conforms with reality. Through these choices, a chain of values is formed. Chosen values lead to new values which converge on an ultimate end: man’s life.

 Once again, Rand’s philosophy coordinates with the teachings of Aristotle.  With regards to virtue, both Rand and Aristotle place emphasis on the role virtue plays in man’s life.  Being committed to virtues such as honesty and integrity allow men to rationally live their lives to the fullest.  By living virtuously, a man is led toward happiness and personal flourishing (Badhwar 1999, 33-35).  To strive toward virtuous principles is to live a life worthy of happiness and personal achievement.

 Fundamentally, Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism explores the concepts of ethics, individualism, and beyond, while emphasizing the fundamentals of knowledge and ethics.  She also explores the subdivisions of both metaphysics and epistemology in order to develop her philosophical foundations (Peikoff 1991). Throughout her works, Rand integrated concepts and carefully crafted them into her ultimate philosophical achievement: Objectivism.  She also taught the importance of reason its function as a feature to man.  By applying it, man could utilize reason to aid in the ultimate goal of man’s happiness and survival.

 

Rasmussen Refines Randian Ideas

 

Douglas B. Rasmussen states that rights are grounded in the moral framework of what it is to be human.  Rights have previously been considered to be an ethical concept but differ from other ethical concepts because of their unique functions. Rasmussen, along with Douglas J. Den Uyl, proposes that rights are a metanormative principle that is established in a political context to protect the autonomy of individuals. The metanormative principle of rights will allow individuals to move toward achieving their moral well-being, which will eventually allow for full human flourishing.  Rights provide a foundation for law and government (Rasmussen and Den Uyl, 1991).

Rights, unlike moral virtues, provide the fundamental normative basis for legal order and acceptable conduct.  Human flourishing is directly connected with the choices that involve the use of our human reasoning and our metanormative principle of rights (Bass 2006).  Knowledge of the moral virtues and human values will lead people to exercising their reasoning and living into their full potentialities.  A successful life is by nature a highly personal matter; if humans can live to their full potential, they can achieve personal flourishing.

            People are social beings.  By our nature, for humans to achieve our potentiality for moral well-being, we must live in communities with others.  For people to live together in communities, metanormative principles of rights must exist.  Humans must live together to reach full potentialities, but all success is made possible by the principle of self-directedness.  Self-perfection can only be achieved with our human reason and the metanormative principle of self-directedness.  Rasmussen states that self-directedness is the only feature of human flourishing whose protection is consistent with the diverse forms of human flourishing.  He also states that we must arrive at a principle that is equally applicable to all individuals (Rasmussen 1995).  He explains that a principle that will provide for the protection of self-directedness will not favor a specific type of flourishing; rather, self-directedness can allow all people to flourish, it is a metanormative conception of rights.  Rasmussen says that the basic rights we possess are the principles of mutual noninterference, a right to freedom.  The freedoms that we have must be equal in the sense that they will allow people to use their knowledge and reason, strive for fulfilling their human potentialities, and move toward flourishing.  We must also work toward a principle of freedom that allows individuals to flourish without impeding the self-directedness of any other individuals.   

This is the very different from Ayn Rand’s “Official Doctrine” that states that the value of one’s ultimate good is the principle belief that one’s life is lived as a flourishing rational animal. Rasmussen as well as Eric Mack, and Den Uyl, disagree with Ayn Rand’s language and her “official doctrine.”  Rasmussen holds that the “official doctrine” is voluntarist and that a categorical imperative must exist. He states that individuals have the power to make choices, and by their cognition and conduct, they choose to live.  Life is not a pre-moral choice as previously stated by Rand (Den Uyl and Rasmussen 1984).  Rand’s “official doctrine” seemingly rejects the idea that human choice has some ultimate end that is not first chosen (Rasmussen 2006).  Rasmussen states, conversely, that human choice is the exercising of power that belongs to human beings made for their maturation.  Human choice must be made with self-perfection and self-directedness as the primary focus; this is because human choice must aid in human flourishing.  This is not a shared belief with Ayn Rand. Rasmussen says that, looking at a human life, “As a result, one does not need to choose to live or flourish in order for there to be ethical obligations; they result from the facts that pertain to one as the type of living thing one is. There is no such thing as the pre-moral choice to live or flourish because the choice to live or not, like all other choices, can be judged in terms of this categorical end” (Rasmussen 2006). To live a human life with choice is to exercise one’s freedoms that are protected by our rights and our self-directedness.

            Rasmussen (2006, 2007) notes that Rand states that the good is an “evaluation” of the fact of reality by man’s consciousness according to a rational standard of value. He explains that according to this claim, the existence of the good depends not only upon its value in relation to a man, but also on its value being cognitively recognized by the human mind. According to this way of thinking, the good exists only if there is an act of human thought. Rasmussen explains that the “good for” exists in reality apart from and independent of a person’s cognition. The good is an aspect of reality in relation to an individual human person. This relationship is metaphysically given. Rasmussen says that Rand’s mistake can be easily remedied by making one small change in her definition:

"The connection envisaged is simply to say that the concept of the good is such and such an evaluation. By doing this, it can be noted that our concept of the good does indeed require an evaluative act, but this does not mean or imply that the good cannot be some aspect of reality in relation to man independently of whether it is discovered by the human mind. Indeed, the good can still be human, even individual, and not yet discovered by the human mind." (Rasmussen 2007, 42)

 

Contemporary Contributors to Advancing Neo-Aristotelian and Post-Randian Philosophy

 

Neera K. Badhwar asks if virtue is only a means of happiness or if it is also constitutive of it.  If it is only a mean of happiness, then happiness can be defined independently of virtue (Badhwar 2001). Contrariwise, if it is partly constitutive of it, then happiness must be defined in terms of virtue. Badhwar also explains that despite Ayn Rand’s apparent “survivalist” view of man’s life qua man, Rand’s actual stance is consistent with the “flourishing” viewpoint. Currently, Badhwar is working on a book, Happiness as the Highest Good.   Of her book she states, “My aim is to see how far the Aristotelian claim that virtue is necessary for happiness can be defended in light of our knowledge of human psychology. Human evil is a major threat to happiness, so I am also interested in the question of how we should avoid evil ourselves and respond to it in others.”  She explains that to act virtuously is to act excellently because virtuous traits make people responsive to the moral situations they face in their lives.  Badhwar also introduces the idea that a virtuous life is not only an intellectual commitment to a life of objective values, but also an emotional investment. 

In her books, Viable Values: A Study of Life as the Root and Reward of Morality (2001) and Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist (2006), Tara Smith reconstructs and defends Rand’s ethics. She develops a case for flourishing (eudaimonia) but neglects to connect her views with those of Den Uyl and Rasmussen who have argued the case for Rand’s philosophy as one of human flourishing for many years. Smith expands on Ayn Rand’s advocacy of egoism and elaborates on the fundamental virtues that Ayn Rand included in her philosophy.  She examines what these virtues consist of and how to incorporate these virtues into conventional wisdom.  

Edward W. Younkins is a leading contemporary scholar of Objectivism and Austrian Economics; he is also a great synthesizer of philosophical ideas. He is able to integrate some of the ideas of history’s most prominent thinkers while reaching a level of sophisticated synthesis that is easy for the modern reader.  Ultimately, he tries to outline various philosophical ideas that allow for a free society in the classically liberal tradition. Younkins has authored several books and countless articles, for example three of his most widely read books are Philosophers of Capitalism: Menger, Mises, Rand, and Beyond, Champions of a Free Society: Ideas of Capitalism’s Philosophers and Economics, and Capitalism and Commerce: Conceptual Foundations of Free Enterprise. Younkins expands on the thoughts and theories of many historical thinkers, while integrating his own ideas on happiness and flourishing on multiple levels.  In terms of natural rights and their concurrent relationship to morality, Younkins identifies the intellectual progress that has been made in this area since Aristotle.  He expands on the intellectual contributions of Aristotle, Rand, and the Austrians while incorporating the ideas of contemporary thinkers such as Rasmussen and Den Uyl.  

Younkins explains that praxeological economics does not conflict with a normative perspective on human life. Economics needs to be connected with a discipline that is concerned with moral ideas such as the end of human flourishing  The content of ultimate moral ideas is not the domain of the economist qua economist. There is another level or sphere of value that defines value in terms of right preferences. Ultimately, moral values must be referred to before the propositions of praxeological economics can be employed in people’s circumstances and in service of their ultimate ends. Theories of the moral good are compatible with Austrian economics because they exist on a different plane. Praxeological economics and a philosophy of human flourishing are compatible disciplines. In making their ethical and value-based judgments, people can refer to and use the findings of economic science. A worldview of human flourishing can provide a context to the economic insights of the Austrian economists.

     Through his various writings, Younkins has contended that by extracting information from various paradigms, it is possible to create a paradigm that is more reflective of reality. He says specifically that it may be possible to extract, refine, extend, and fuse together the following components: [1] an objective, realist, natural-law-oriented metaphysics as exemplified in the works of Aristotle, Carl Menger, Ayn Rand, and Murray Rothbard; [2] a metanormative natural-rights theory based on the nature of man and the world; [3] Rand’s objective epistemology which describes concepts or essences as relational and contextual rather than as metaphysical; [4] a theory of value as exemplified in the writings of Menger and Rand; [5] Misesian praxeology as a tool for understanding how people cooperate and compete and for deducing universal principles of economics; [6] an ethic of human flourishing based on reason, free will, and individuality as suggested in the writings of Rasmussen, Den Uyl, Tibor Machan, and others.  
    

Douglas J. Den Uyl is a contemporary philosopher who often co-writes academic articles and books with Douglas Rasmussen. Like Rasmussen, Den Uyl’s ethics of human flourishing revolve around reason, free will, and individuality. His philosophy is based on a foundation of both Aristotelian and Randian ideas. Through his works, he attempts to integrate the ideas into a more unified philosophy while adhering to liberal principles. On his own, Den Uyl has written on the topic of prudence. He studies the virtue of prudence and its relationship with Rand’s virtue of rationality. Den Uyl argues that the two virtues, although emphasized differently, are actually quite similar. He has made the case that prudence could perhaps be considered a Randian virtue. As he continues to be a major contributor to the contemporary philosophical movement, he utilizes Rand’s ideas as a framework while promoting other Aristotelian ideas. Den Uyl has also argued that a person’s moral maturation requires a life with others (Den Uyl 1993, 192-224). He maintains that charitable conduct can be viewed as an expression of one’s self-perfection. Charitable action may be seen as perfection of a man’s capacity for cooperation and as a specific manifestation of that capacity.  Kindness and benevolence are not the result of impulse or obligation to others, but rather are rational goals. From this perspective, the obligation for charity is an aspect of man’s flourishing.

        Nathaniel Branden, unlike other philosophical thinkers, approaches philosophy from a psychological standpoint. As a psychotherapist, he has written many books on the concept of self-esteem and its role in the happiness and lives of humans. After developing a personal relationship with Ayn Rand, he began to use his talents to promote Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. Using his knowledge and familiarity with philosophy, Branden developed an entire worldview built around self-esteem. In this worldview, he organizes different steps toward achieving self-esteem.

     Psychologist Robert L. Campbell has studied the psychological aspects of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. He explains how Rand’s epistemology drew on findings and ideas from the so-called “Cognitive Revolution” (Campbell 1999). This “revolution” represents a change in American psychology during the 1950s that overthrew behaviorism and re-established mental processes as an object of study. Campbell has charged that many Objectivists fail to recognize the distinctive psychological roots of Rand’s epistemology. He contends that once the impact of the Cognitive Revolution on Rand is recognized, her insistence that philosophy and psychology are totally distinct becomes difficult to defend. Campbell also examines Rand’s handling of the distinction between implicit and explicit knowledge. He applies these distinctions to three problems that arise in her treatment of the implicit: [1] the idea of a pre-moral choice to live; [2] the peculiar status of implicit concepts; and [3] her ambivalence to whether or not skills constitute knowledge.

        David Kelley is a contemporary philosopher who is most known for his book Unrugged Individualism (1996), that focuses on benevolence as a virtue. As a professor and author, Kelley has explored all facets of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. Although he does not strictly adhere to every feature of Objectivism, he clearly defends Rand’s ideas in his well-known work. In Unrugged Individualism, he argues that benevolence and egoism are consistent with one another despite prior beliefs. To Kelley, benevolence is defined as “a commitment to achieving the values derivable from life with other people in society, by treating them as potential trading partners, recognizing their humanity, independence, and individuality, and the harmony between their interests and ours” (Kelley 1996). From this, Kelley develops a sound argument for the co-existence of benevolence and egoism. In addition to writing, Kelley also formed The Atlas Society. The society includes thinkers who live by the basic principles of Objectivism, but who do not necessarily agree with everything that Rand wrote.

     Benevolence means good will toward others. It involves a positive attitude toward people in general, a desire for the well being of others, and a desire to have peaceful and cooperative relationships with them (Kelley 1996). Benevolence includes traits such as kindness, charity, sympathy, tolerance, civility, generosity, and so on. Kelley explains that given that people live in society, and given that misfortune can affect any person, it is in a person’s self-interest to live in a world in which people live with one another in a spirit of mutual benevolence.

      Tibor Machan is a contemporary professor of political philosophy and ethics. He is involved in various speaking engagements across the country advocating libertarian ideals and principles. He has authored multiple books, articles, and editorials dealing with the ethics of both Aristotle and Ayn Rand. He often focuses his writings on the concepts of ethical egoism, morality, and virtues. Like Rand, Machan thinks rights are innate to human nature and are essential to man’s life (Machan 1982). In addition to writing, he is also part of many philosophical organizations and research groups such as the Hoover Institute. Through these groups, he is able to spread his ideas and promote the basic concepts of classical liberalism.

       Like Den Uyl, Kelley, and others, Machan has endeavored to supply a broader perspective than Rand that includes a thicker theory of the human person and theory of human flourishing. According to Machan, generosity can lead to happiness (Machan 1998). He outlines two specific reasons why generosity leads to happiness: [1] it is a value to live in a society where people extend help to others; and [2] giving help may be viewed as a type of investment.

      Chris Matthew Sciabarra (1995) has called Ayn Rand’s orientation toward grasping the free dynamic context of social order an example of “dialectics.” Sciabarra describes “dialectics” as “the art of context-keeping.” He explains that Rand is a dialectic thinker and writer with respect to her ability to trace the reciprocal preconditions and efforts of many thoughts over time. She explores the many manifestations of social relations at work on different levels of generality and from different viewpoints within these levels. Rand examines order on three distinct analytical levels: the personal, the cultural, and the structural. The levels are all preconditions and effects of one another: her strategic implications for the techniques of social change. Sciabarra has built upon and extended Rand’s dialectical and context-keeping orientation. Sciabarra cautions people not to reduce virtues and defense of freedom to economics or politics. He says that we also need to review the interconnection between the philosophical, the historical, the personal, and so on. His message is that libertarians need a strategy that recognizes the dynamic relationship between the political, historical, psychological, ethical, cultural, economic, and other aspects, if they are to be successful in their pursuit of a free society. Sciabarra maintains that the crusade for freedom is multidimensional and takes place on a number of levels, with each level influencing the effects on the other levels. Change must occur on many different levels and in many different areas.

 

Toward the Future

 
      As previously stated, throughout history, philosophers, economists, novelists, and many others have devoted their lives to the study and contemplation of human existence. In this essay and in other similar works, the ultimate goal is to create a paradigm in which the view of reality, knowledge, human nature, values, and society make up an integrated whole. Of course, the paradigm will grow as scholars engage, question, interpret, and extend the ideas that are compatible. This paradigm and its components must be viewed as a vibrant, living framework that aims toward the truth. The arguments of Aristotle, Rand, and contemporary neo-Aristotelian philosophers can potentially be brought together and result in a powerful libertarian synthesis of great promise. The roots of freedom and individualism can be traced back to Aristotle who inspired many thinkers from Thomas Aquinas to John Locke, to the Founding Fathers, to Carl Menger, Rand, and Murray Rothbard. To achieve this ultimate goal of a paradigm, it must be well articulated, theoretically consistent, and inevitably a morally sound defender of capitalism. Yet in the end, the paradigm will only exist with the help and contributions of modern-day philosophers who continue to further the interaction of the philosophies of Aristotle and Rand. Because in the end, “Rand did no more than outline the essentials of a topic. She expected ‘good minds’ to fill in the details” (Dykes 2008). And that is exactly what contemporary philosophers such as Douglas Rasmussen and Tibor Machan have done and continue to do. Although they do not all hold the same beliefs in their entirety, this paper had chosen not to exemplify their differences, but their similarities and compatibility. Through their extensive examinations of  societies, people, rights, governments, and politics, these noted men and women have been able to successfully establish the ultimate significance of human life and flourishing in a free society.

References

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Rasmussen, Douglas B. 2007. The Aristotelian Significance of the Section Titles of Atlas Shrugged.” From Younkins 2007.

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Stolyarov, G. 2011. “A Review of Edward Younkins’s Philosophers of Capitalism.” From article published on Rebirth of Reason website.

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Kaitlyn Pytlak is a junior Political and Economic Philosophy major at Wheeling Jesuit University.

Natalie Mogan is Political and Economic Philosophy graduate from WJU. She is currently attending The Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing Michigan.

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Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's four-act play, Implied Consent, a futuristic intellectual drama on the sanctity of human life, here.