Ayn Rand Quotes

This is a collection of quotes from Ayn Rand. These have been carefully checked against a source and are guaranteed to be accurate, authentic and error-free. I will be gradually adding to it. The blue and green colored text is a device to help readers easily distinguish the quotes. Apocryphal Ayn Rand quotes are toward the bottom of the page in red. If you’re interested in Ayn Rand’s philosophy, I recommend my Introduction to Objectivism.



“Do you hear me…my love? […]

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.”

–Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged, mass market paperback, pg. 979)



“‘Do you mean to tell me that you’re thinking seriously of building that way, when and if you are an architect?’ [said the dean of the Stanton Institute of Technology]

‘Yes’ [said Howard Roark]

‘My dear fellow, who will let you?’

‘That’s not the point. The point is, who will stop me?'”

–Ayn Rand (The Fountainhead, Bobbs-Merrill hardcover, pg. 11)



“A rational process is a moral process. You may make an error at any step of it, with nothing to protect you but your own severity, or you may try to cheat, to fake the evidence and evade the effort of the quest—but if devotion to truth is the hallmark of morality, then there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.”

–Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged, mass market paperback, pg. 931)



“The secrets of this earth are not for all men to see, but only for those who will seek them.”

–Ayn Rand (Anthem, www.noblesoul.com, 3.2)



“When I disagree with a rational man, I let reality be our final arbiter; if I am right, he will learn; if I am wrong, I will; one of us will win, but both will profit.”

–Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged, mass market paperback, pg. 936)



“Ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be left waiting for us in our graves–or whether it should be ours here and now and on this earth.”

–Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged, mass market paperback, pg. 675)



“In order to live, man must act; in order to act, he must make choices; in order to make choices, he must define a code of values; in order to define a code of values, he must know what he is and where he is—i.e., he must know his own nature (including his means of knowledge) and the nature of the universe in which he acts—i.e., he needs metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, which means: philosophy. He cannot escape from this need; his only alternative is whether the philosophy guiding him is to be chosen by his mind or by chance.”

–Ayn Rand (The Romantic Manifesto, pg. 30)



“The present state of the world is not the proof of philosophy’s impotence, but the proof of philosophy’s power. It is philosophy that has brought men to this state—it is only philosophy that can lead them out.”

–Ayn Rand (For the New Intellectual, pg. 50)



“To deal with men by force is as impractical as to deal with nature by persuasion.”

–Ayn Rand (Philosophy: Who Needs It, pg. 32)



“[Man] is free to make the wrong choice, but not free to succeed with it. He is free to evade reality, he is free to unfocus his mind and stumble blindly down any road he pleases, but not free to avoid the abyss he refuses to see. Knowledge, for any conscious organism, is the means of survival; to a living consciousness, every ‘is‘ implies an ‘ought.’ Man is free to choose not to be conscious, but not free to escape the penalty of unconsciousness: destruction.”

–Ayn Rand (The Virtue of Selfishness, pg. 24)



“When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion–when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing–when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors–when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you–when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice–you may know that your society is doomed.”

–Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged, mass market paperback, pg. 383)



“Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue. […]

Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men’s protection and the base of a moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun pointed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it bounces, marked: ‘Account overdrawn.'”

–Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged, mass market paperback, pg. 383-384)



“Whenever you committed the evil of refusing to think and to see, of exempting from the absolute of reality some one small wish of yours, whenever you chose to say: Let me withdraw from the judgment of reason the cookies I stole, or the existence of God, let me have my one irrational whim and I will be a man of reason about all else—that was the act of subverting your consciousness, the act of corrupting your mind. Your mind then became a fixed jury who takes orders from a secret underworld, whose verdict distorts the evidence to fit an absolute it dares not touch—and a censored reality is the result, a splintered reality where the bits you chose to see are floating among the chasms of those you didn’t, held together by that embalming fluid of the mind which is an emotion exempted from thought.”

–Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged, mass market paperback, pg. 949)


Apocryphal Quotes

These are quotes falsely attributed to Ayn Rand:


“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”

–This is a distorted abbreviation of the conversation in Quote (2) from The Fountainhead above. It was never written or said by Ayn Rand.



“You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.”

“You can evade reality, but you cannot evade the consequences of evading reality.”

–I like the second version of this alleged Rand quote, but as far as I can tell, both versions are misquotes. (See Quote 10 and: http://quoteinvestigator.com/2015/04/30/reality/)



“When the law no longer protects you from the corrupt, but protects the corrupt from you – you know your nation is doomed.”

–This is not an exact quote of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. See Quote (11), above.