You might claim – as most people do – that you have never been influenced by philosophy. I will ask you to check that claim. Have you ever thought or said the following? “Don’t be so sure – nobody can be certain of anything.” You got that notion from David Hume (and many, many others), even though you might never have heard of him. Or: “This may be good in theory, but it doesn’t work in practice.” You got that from Plato. Or: “That was a rotten thing to do, but it’s only human, nobody is perfect in this world.” You got that from Augustine. Or: “It may be true for you, but it’s not true for me.” You got it from William James. Or: “I couldn’t help it! Nobody can help anything he does.” You got it from Hegel. Or: “I can’t prove it, but I feel that it’s true.” You got it from Kant. Or: “It’s logical, but logic has nothing to do with reality.” You got it from Kant. Or: “It’s evil, because it’s selfish.” You got it from Kant. Have you heard the modern activists say: “Act first, think afterward”? They got it from John Dewey.
Some people might answer: “Sure, I’ve said those things at different times, but I don’t have to believe that stuff all of the time. It may have been true yesterday, but it’s not true today.” They got it from Hegel. They might say: “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” They got it from a very little mind, Emerson. They might say: “But can’t one compromise and borrow different ideas from different philosophies according to the expediency of the moment?” They got it from Richard Nixon – who got it from William James.
The above quote is now very famous, and is from a speech given by Ayn Rand in 1974 to graduates of West Point Academy. The point of her speech was to accomplish one primary task: illustrate the idea that everyone needs to understand and study philosophy. That the ideas and trends which (mental fads, if you will) predominate our cultural and intellectual landscape are not due to some unintelligible source, but specifically due to the ideas put forth by particular intellectuals, and have migrated down into the daily course of events. Of course, Ms Rand has a particular type of philosophy which is the hallmark of all of her intellectual work and one can investigate it and make the most of it..(which I highly recommend).
Regardless, if one understands the philosophical antecedents which are driving us currently into fiscal bankruptcy on an international scale, one will very clearly understand the underlying issues surrounding the risk to your and my wealth, and the absolute risk we now face to our freedoms and liberty. It is real, it is now, and there are means by which it can be fixed.
The question is, who amongst us, who among the presidential candidates who will lead this nation forward, bases their prescriptions in reality verses pure, unadulterated, mysticism?
Ms Rand is not a prophet nor does she have all the answers to all the questions we face. What makes her unique view so valuable is that there are tools, intellectual tools, that she makes readily available to anyone who desires to avail themselves of them.
Ignore her at your own risk.