From the book The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

"If... if you can see what you're talking about, you can't be what you are."

"No, my dear. I must be what I am, precisely because of what I see."

Obviously Rand used her characters as a medium for her philosophy. Which of these two sounds more like Ayn's beliefs or her Objectivism?

  • 1
    Both the quote and the question are unclear. Any more context you can give? What is the difference between Rand's beliefs and her Objectivism?
    – Mitch
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 21:08
  • 2
    The quote is out of context. You neglected to inform us that the character who said "No, my dear[...]" was dishonest and a power-seeker. Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 23:12
  • @MichaelHardy Actually its in perfect context and I'm glad u made that comment. I purposely left out the character's names and their motivations. Another quote from a third character, same book, "No speech is ever considered, but only the speaker. Its easier to pass judgement on a man than on an idea."
    – Sean
    Commented Dec 31, 2011 at 0:08

1 Answer 1


Although Rand used her characters as a medium for her philosophy, this does not mean that they can be read as philosophical dialogues (like Plato's, for instance); rather, they are still works of fiction, and include the rhetorical devices (such as plot, character development, etc) commonly found in novels.

In this case, this means that we do not have nearly enough context in the passage you quoted to derive Rand's intent; in fact, the two sentences taken by themselves are opaque to the point of being almost meaningless.

  • I agree with you but in this case I think that these two quotes leave nothing to question and are obviously two opposite ideas that need no other context.
    – Sean
    Commented Dec 31, 2011 at 0:21
  • 5
    "If you can see what you are talking about, you can't be what you are" leaves nothing to question? Without context, it's damn near gibberish. Commented Dec 31, 2011 at 11:41
  • I don't understand, @Sean. If you think there's nothing to question, what exactly are you asking? What do YOU think these mean?
    – Ramy
    Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 3:13

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