An excerpt from chapter 5 on Reason from Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Peikoff.

“Reason” is one of the central concepts in the philosophy of Ayn Rand. The whole of Objectivism amounts to the injunction: “Follow reason.” But this formulation by itself offers little guidance, because “reason” is a complex higher-level concept. To grasp its meaning and implications, one must first grasp its hierarchical roots. These are what we have been studying at length.

“Reason,” in Ayn Rand’s definition, is “the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses.”1 Or, as we may now expand it: reason is the faculty that enables man to discover the nature of existents—by virtue of its power to condense sensory information in accordance with the requirements of an objective mode of cognition. Or: reason is the faculty that organizes perceptual units in conceptual terms by following the principles of logic. This formulation highlights the three elements essential to the faculty: its data, percepts; its form, concepts; its method, logic.

Is reason, so defined, a valid means of cognition? Does it bring man knowledge of reality? The question reduces to: are the senses valid? are concepts valid? is logic valid?

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

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