Best 276 quotes in «atlas shrugged quotes» category

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    Tension seemed natural to her, not a sign of anxiety, but a sign of enjoyment...

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    So you think that money is the root of all evil?” said Francisco d.‘Anconia. “Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value.

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    Such was the code that the world had accepted and such was the key to the code: that it hooked man’s love of existence to a circuit of torture, so that only the man who had nothing to offer would have nothing to fear, so that the virtues which made life possible and the values which gave it meaning became the agents of its destruction, so that one’s best became the tool of one’s agony, and man’s life on earth became impractical.

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    Sweep aside those hatred-eaten mystics, who pose as friends of humanity and preach that the highest virtue man can practice is to hold his own life as of no value. Do they tell you that the purpose of morality is to curb man’s instinct of self-preservation? It is for the purpose of self-preservation that man needs a code of morality. The only man who desires to be moral is the man who desires to live.

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    Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life. Show me the woman he sleeps with and I will tell you his valuation of himself.

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    The action of naming an issue instead of evading it, was so unlike the usual behavior of all the men he knew, it was such a sudden, startling relief...

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    The adversary she found herself forced to fight was not worth matching or beating; it was not a superior ability which she would have found honor in challenging; it was ineptitude—a gray spread of cotton that ‘seemed soft and shapeless, that could offer no resistance to anything or anybody, yet managed to be a barrier in her way.

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    The faces of the others looked like aggregates of interchangeable features, every face oozing to blend into the anonymity of resembling all, and all looking as if they were melting. Rearden’s face, with the sharp planes, the pale blue eyes, the ash-blond hair, had the firmness of ice; the uncompromising clarity of its lines made it look, among the others, as if he were moving through a fog, hit by a ray of light.

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    The capacity for unclouded enjoyment, she thought, does not belong to irresponsible fools; an inviolate peace of spirit is not the achievement of a drifter; to be able to laugh like that is the end result of the most profound, most solemn thinking.

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    The evaluation of an action as ‘practical,’ depends on what it is that one wishes to practice.

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    The anti-mind is the anti-life.

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    The desperate violence of the way he held her, the hurting pressure of his mouth on hers, the exultant surrender of his body to the touch of hers, were not the form of a moment’s pleasure—she knew that no physical hunger could bring a man to this—she knew that it was the statement she had never heard from him, the greatest confession of love a man could make.

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    The error is this: it is proper for a creator to be optimistic, in the deepest, most basic sense, since the creator believes in a benevolent universe and functions on that premise. But it is an error to extend that optimism to other specific men. First, it's not necessary, the creator's life and the nature of the universe do not require it, his life does not depend on others. Second, man is a being with free will; therefore, each man is potentially good or evil, and it's up to him and only to him (through his reasoning mind) to decide which he wants to be. The decision will affect only him; it is not (and cannot and should not be) the primary concern of any other human being.

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    The first few days, the worst thing he seen Harold do was take a dump and use the pages from one of the camp library books for toilet paper. Renée wined. “It turned out to be The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. Our only copy. If I had known what he was going to do with it, I would’ve given him a copy of Atlas Shrugged.

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    The hours ahead, like all her nights with him, would be added, she thought, to that savings account of one’s life where moments of time are stored in the pride of having been lived.

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    The man who is convinced of his own worthlessness will be drawn to a woman he despises—because she will reflect his own secret self, she will release him from that objective reality in which he is a fraud, she will give him a momentary illusion of his own value and a momentary escape from the moral code that damns him.

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    The human shapes moving past him in the streets of the city were physical objects without any meaning.

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    Their terror had the evasive quality of guilt: it was not the fear that comes from understanding, but from the refusal to understand.

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    The man who despises himself tries to gain self-esteem from sexual adventures —which can’t be done, because sex is not the cause, but an effect and an expression of a man’s sense of his own value.

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    ...the informality of his posture, combined with the strict formality of his clothes, gave him an air of superlative elegance. His was the only face that had the carefree look and the brilliant smile proper to the enjoyment of a party; but his eyes seemed intentionally expressionless, holding no trace of gaiety, showing—like a warning signal—nothing but the activity of a heightened perceptiveness.

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    The justice which would forgive miles of innocent errors of knowledge, would not forgive a single step taken in conscious evil.

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    The man who entered was a stranger. He was young, tall, and something about him suggested violence, though she could not say what it was, because the first trait one grasped about him was a quality of self-control that seemed almost arrogant.

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    The men I was fighting were impotent. The shiftless, the purposeless, the irresponsible, the irrational—it was not I who needed them, it was not theirs to dictate terms to me, it was not mine to obey demands.

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    The only thing that counts in life is solid, material assets. It's no time for theories when everything is falling to pieces around us.

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    The punishment she had wanted to inflict on him was the torture of shame; what she had inflicted was the torture of boredom.

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    There is no conflict of interests among men, neither in business nor in trade nor in their most personal desires—if they omit the irrational from their view of the possible and destruction from their view of the practical?

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    There is no escape from justice, nothing can be unearned and unpaid for in the universe, neither in matter nor in spirit—and if the guilty do not pay, then the innocent have to pay it.

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    There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." [Kung Fu Monkey -- Ephemera, blog post, March 19, 2009]

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    ...there can be no justification for a society in which a man is expected to manufacture the weapons for his own murderers.

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    There is a morality of reason, a morality proper to man, and Man’s Life is its standard of value. All that which is proper to the life of a rational being is the good; all that which destroys it is the evil.

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    There is no conflict, and no call for sacrifice, and no man is a threat to the aims of another—if men understand that reality is an absolute not to be faked, that lies do not work, that the unearned cannot be had, that the undeserved cannot be given, that the destruction of a value which is, will not bring value to that which isn’t.

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    There were no traces of human existence around them. Old ruts, overgrown with grass, made human presence seem more distant, adding the distance of years to the distance of miles. A haze of twilight remained over the ground, but in the breaks between the tree trunks there were leaves that hung in patches of shining green and seemed to light the forest. The leaves hung still. They walked, alone to move through a motionless world. She noticed suddenly that they had not said a word for a long time.

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    There is only one kind of men who have never been on strike in human history. Every other kind and class have stopped, when they so wished, and have presented demands to the world, claiming to be indispensable—except the men who have carried the world on their shoulders, have kept it alive, have endured torture as sole payment, but have never walked out on the human race.

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    There’s no way to make the irrational work.

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    There was an expert competence in his manner of working; his movements were easy, intelligently economical.

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    There were moments when she felt a sudden, violent longing for him, but it was only impatience, not pain.

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    The road was dark, edged with trees. Looking up, he could see a few leaves against the stars; the leaves were twisted and dry, ready to fall. There were distant lights in the windows of houses scattered through the countryside; but the lights made the road seem lonelier. He never felt loneliness except when he was happy.

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    ...there’s nothing of any importance in life—except how well you do your work. Nothing. Only that. Whatever else you are, will come from that. It’s the only measure of human value.

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    There was a time when men were afraid that somebody would reveal some secret of theirs that was unknown to their fellows. Nowadays, they’re afraid that somebody will name what everybody knows.

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    ...there was no guilt in his face, no doubt, nothing but the calm of an inviolate self-confidence.

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    There was so calm, so natural, so total a certainty in the sound of her voice that the mere sound seemed to carry an immense persuasiveness.

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    The statue was of a young man with a tall, gaunt body and an angular face. He held his head as if he faced a challenge and found joy in his capacity to meet it.

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    The source of work? Man’s mind...man’s reasoning mind.

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    ...they seemed wounded by anything he said, it was not a matter of his words or actions, it was almost . . . almost as if they were wounded by the mere fact of his being.

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    The things you were talking about. The lights and the flowers. Do they expect those things to make them romantic, not the other way around?” “Darling, what do you mean?” “There wasn’t a person there who enjoyed it,” she said, her voice lifeless, “or who thought or felt anything at all. They moved about, and they said the same dull things they say anywhere. I suppose they thought the lights would make it brilliant.” “Darling, you take everything too seriously. One is not supposed to be intellectual at a ball. One is simply supposed to be gay.” “How? By being stupid?

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    They had counted on his pity and dreaded his anger; they had not dared consider the third alternative: his indifference.

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    They said you were hard and cold and unfeeling.” “But it’s true...I am, in the sense they mean—only have they ever told you in just what sense they mean it?" "What did they mean about you?” “Whenever anyone accuses some person of being ‘unfeeling,’ he means that that person is just. He means that that person has no causeless emotions and will not grant him a feeling which he does not deserve. He means that .‘to feel’ is to go against reason, against moral values, against reality.

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    They stopped and looked at each other. She knew, only when he did it, that she had known he would. He seized her, she felt her lips in his mouth, felt her arms grasping him in violent answer...

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    They seemed to want her approval, without having to know whether she approved or not.

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    They used to rush through here, it was the hurry of men who knew where they were going and were eager to get there. Now they’re hurrying because they are afraid. It’s not a purpose that drives them, it’s fear. They’re not going anywhere, they’re escaping. And I don’t think they know what it is that they want to escape.