The Ayn Rand Institute, also known by the acronym ARI, is an institute established in honor of Russian-American writer Ayn Rand with the aim of advancing Objectivism: a philosophical system developed by Ayn Rand in her lifetime.
Full Name: The Ayn Rand Institute: The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism
The institute was established as a non-profit organization in the year 1985, three years after the death of Ayn Rand. Its founders were Leonard Peikoff and Ed Snider. Leonard Peikoff was Ayn Rand’s associate who later became her legal heir. Peikoff contributed to the ideological aspect of the institute while Ed Snider a business tycoon contributed to the financial aspect by attracting financial support.
ARI is located in Santa Ana, California.
The Ayn Rand Institute and Objectivism
The complete name of the institute reads, The Ayn Rand Institute: Center for the Advancement of Objectivism. As the name implies, the major aim of the institute is the promotion of Objectivism.
The philosophy of Objectivism is anchored on the tenets of individualism, reality as an existence independent of the consciousness of the mind, and laissez-faire capitalism as the best social system. It was developed by Ayn Rand but given a more comprehensive structure by her associate Leonard Peikoff. In Rand’s own words, Objectivism is “the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity and reason as his only absolute”.
The Ayn Rand institute maintains that the fundamental principles of Objectivism will not be changed from how it was originally set out by Ayn Rand but that new applications of her ideas are possible and acceptable.
The controversy that Objectivism should be open to changes from the principles laid out by Ayn Rand led to the loss of some members of the ARI Board of Directors like David Kelly who left and established a similar institute called the Atlas Society.
Objectivism has not been formally recognized in academics as a philosophical system. However, the ARI design a series of activities that promote the knowledge of the concept in the educational system.
The foremost activities of the ARI were founding Objectivist Student Clubs in colleges across the United States of America and organizing essay writing contests about Ayn Rand novels.
The activities of the institute also include providing intellectuals for public lectures, distributing free Ayn Rand books to professors and students, offering internships to undergraduate students, and financial aid for graduate programs.
The ARI also organizes a week-long annual Objectivist Conference (OCON) in various cities across the United States and a 3-day Ayn Rand Student Conference each fall.
It organizes an award called the Atlas Award to encourage and recognize entrepreneurs who are making great strides in innovation and business.
Current Standing of the ARI
In addition to Objectivism, the ARI has taken a stance on many modern-day issues in human society. For instance, it supports abortion rights, free speech, voluntary euthanasia, and atheism. And they are critical of multiculturalism, environmentalism, and animal rights.
The ARI has an Objectivist Academic Center which was launched in January 2000. They give admissions based on the evaluation of essays and a student’s application profile but studies at the center are not intended to replace college education as they offer no credit units.
The ARI has over thirty-five (35) members of staff in addition to its board of directors. It has an official website called AynRand.org where interested people can find information and resources about the institute, and also social media pages.
The ARI also gives support to the promotion of Objectivism globally. It has helped in the establishment of the Ayn Rand Center Isreal (ARCI) in 2012, the Ayn Rand Institute Europe in 2015, and the Ayn Rand Center Japan in 2017. All of which are affiliated to the ARI but operate as separate legal entities. It also gives support to Objectivism Internacional which is an institute based in Spain which exists to spread Objectivism to the Spanish-speaking countries of the world.
What are the four main pillars of Objectivism?
The four main pillars of Objectivism are Reality, Reason, Self-Interest, and Laissez-faire Capitalism. The major tenets of Objectivism are: that Reality exists independent of consciousness and perception; that Reason is not automatic but comes when one opens one’s mind to understand facts and objective reality; Self-Interest is the moral compass that should guide one’s morality and values; and that laissez-faire Capitalism is the best political, economic and social system consistent with the individual interest.
Did Ayn Rand grow up in Russia?
Yes, Ayn Rand grew up in Russia. She is a native of Russia and was born in the city of St Petersburg, Russia, in 1905. She spent her childhood and teenage years in Russia and had her education there. Then she moved to the United States at the age of twenty-six where she lived for the rest of her life.
Who were Ayn Rand’s parents?
Ayn Rand’s father was a Russian pharmacist called Zinovy Zakharovich Rosenbaum and her mother was Anna Borisovna Rosenbaum (nee Kaplan). They were a middle-class Russian couple.