An excerpt from chapter 6 on Man from Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Peikoff.

There is no question more crucial to man than the question: what is man? What kind of being is he? What are his essential attributes?

Many thinkers and artists have sought to answer this question. They have looked at men and then offered a report on man’s nature. Their reports have clashed through the ages. Aristotle defined man as the “rational animal.” Plato and the medievals described other-worldly souls trapped in a bodily prison. Shakespeare dramatized man as an aspiring but foolish mortal, defeated by a “tragic flaw.” Thomas Hobbes described a mechanistic brute. Kant saw man as a blind chunk of unreality, in hock to the unknowable. Hegel saw a half-real fragment of the state. Victor Hugo saw a passionate individualist undercut by an inimical universe. Friedrich Nietzsche saw a demoniacal individualist run by the will to power. John Dewey saw a piece of flux run by the expediency of the moment. Sigmund Freud spoke of an excrement-molding pervert itching to rape his mother.

Ayn Rand looked at men and saw the possibility of Howard Roark and John Galt.

Read the rest in Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

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