Best 276 quotes in «atlas shrugged quotes» category

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    A basic premise is an absolute that permits no co-operation with its antithesis and tolerates no tolerance.

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    A being of volitional consciousness has no automatic course of behavior. He needs a code of values to guide his actions. ‘Value’ is that which one acts to gain and keep, 'virtue’ is the action by which one gains and keeps it. ‘Value’ presupposes an answer to the question: of value to whom and for what? 'Value’ presupposes a standard, a purpose and the necessity of action in the face of an alternative. Where there are no alternatives, no values are possible.

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    A face that bore no mark of pain or fear or guilt...The shape of his mouth was pride, and more: it was as if he took pride in being proud. The angular planes of his cheeks made her think of arrogance, of tension, of scorn—yet the face had none of these qualities, it had their final sum: a look of serene determination and of certainty, and the look of a ruthless innocence which would not seek forgiveness or grant it. It was a face that had nothing to hide or to escape, a face with no fear of being seen or of seeing, so that the first thing she grasped about him was the intense perceptiveness of his eyes—he looked as if his faculty of sight were his best-loved tool and its exercise were a limitless, joyous adventure, as if his eyes imparted a superlative value to himself and to the world—to himself for his ability to see, to the world for being a place so eagerly worth seeing. It seemed to her for a moment that she was in the presence of a being who was pure consciousness—yet she had never been so aware of a man’s body.

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    Accepting a man’s hospitality is a token of good will, a declaration that you and your host stand on terms of a civilized relationship.

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    All work is an act of creating and comes from the same source: from an inviolate capacity to see through one’s own eyes—which means: the capacity to perform a rational identification -which means: the capacity to see, to connect and to make what had not been seen, connected and made before.

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    A hint of the smile remained in his features at all times, particularly when he listened; it was a look of good-natured amusement, as if he were swiftly and patiently discarding the irrelevant in the words he heard and going straight to the point a moment ahead of the speaker.

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    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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    All work is an act of philosophy. And when men will learn to consider productive work—and that which is its source—as the standard of their moral values, they will reach that state of perfection which is the birthright they lost..

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    All your life, you have heard yourself denounced, not for your faults, but for your greatest virtues. You have been hated, not for your mistakes, but for your achievements. You have been scorned for all those qualities of character which are your highest pride. You have been called selfish for the courage of acting on your own judgment and bearing sole responsibility for your own life. You have been called arrogant for your independent mind. You have been called cruel for your unyielding integrity. You have been called anti-social for the vision that made you venture upon undiscovered roads. You have been called ruthless for the strength and self-discipline of your drive to your purpose. You have been called greedy for the magnificence of your power to create wealth.

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    Any man who’s afraid of hiring the best ability he can find, is a cheat who’s in a business where he doesn’t belong. To me - the foulest man on earth, more contemptible than a criminal, is the employer who rejects men for being too good. That’s what I’ve always thought...

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    Any refusal to recognize reality, for any reason whatever, has disastrous consequences. There are no evil thoughts except one: the refusal to think. Don’t ignore your own desires... Don’t sacrifice them. Examine their cause.

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    A process of reason is a process of constant choice in answer to the question: True or False? - Right or Wrong?

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    A rational process is a moral process. You may make an error at any step of it, with nothing to protect you but your own severity, or you may try to cheat, to fake the evidence and evade the effort of the quest - but if devotion to truth is the hallmark of morality, then there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.

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    Aren’t you training a man who could become your most dangerous competitor?” “That’s the only sort of men I like to hire. Dagny, have you lived too long among the looters? Have you come to think that one man’s ability is a threat to another?” “Oh no! But I thought I was almost the only one left who didn’t think that.

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    Are you seeking to know what is wrong with the world? All the disasters that have wrecked your world, came from your leaders’ attempt to evade the fact that A is A. All the secret evil you dread to face within you and all the pain you have ever endured, came from your own attempt to evade the fact that A is A.

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    Are you saying,” he asked slowly, “that I rose in your estimation when you found that I wanted you?” “Of course.” “That’s not the reaction of most people to being wanted.” “It isn’t.” “Most people feel that they rise in their own eyes, if others want them.” “I feel that others live up to me, if they want me....

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    A sin without volition is a slap at morality and an insolent contradiction in terms: that which is outside the possibility of choice is outside the province of morality.

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    Ask yourself what it is that a code of moral values does to a man’s life, and why he can’t exist without it, and what happens to him if he accepts the wrong standard, by which the evil is the good.

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    As she looked at him, her dark gray eyes went slowly from astonishment to stillness, then to a strange expression that resembled a look of weariness, except that it seemed to reflect much more than the endurance of this one moment.

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    A stream cut across the grass, and tree branches flowed low to the ground, like a curtain of green fluid. The sound of the water stressed the silence. The distant cut of open sky made the place seem more hidden. Far above, on the crest of a hill, one tree caught the first rays of sunlight.

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    ...a tall, fragile woman with pale blond hair and a face of such beauty that it seemed veiled by distance, as if the artist had been merely able to suggest it, not to make it quite real...she was Kay Ludlow, the movie star who, once seen, could never be forgotten; the star who had retired and vanished five years ago, to be replaced by girls of indistinguishable names and interchangeable faces...she felt that the glass cafeteria was a cleaner use for Kay Ludlow’s beauty than a role in a picture glorifying the commonplace for possessing no glory.

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    Before Ayn Rand coined the term “objectivists”, we just called them “selfish assholes”.

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    Both of them smiled derisively. But Francisco seemed to laugh at things because he saw something much greater. Jim laughed as if he wanted to let nothing remain great.

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    But why?” “You goddamn fool, do you think I consider their question debatable?

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    By the grace of reality and the nature of life, man—every man—is an end in himself, he exists for his own sake, and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose.

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    Dagny listened to the Fourth Concerto, her head thrown back, her eyes closed. She lay half-stretched across the corner of a couch, her body relaxed and still; but tension stressed the shape of her mouth on her motionless face, a sensual shape drawn in lines of longing.

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    Dagny leaned back in her chair. The short sentence was a shock. It was not merely relief: it was the sudden realization that nothing else was necessary to guarantee that it would be done; she needed no proofs, no questions, no explanations; a complex problem could rest safely on three syllables pronounced by a man who knew what he was saying.

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    Dagny’s bearing seemed almost indecent, because this was the way a woman would have faced a ballroom centuries ago, when the act of displaying one’s half-naked body for the admiration of men was an act of daring, when it had meaning, and but one meaning, acknowledged by all as a high adventure.

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    Dagny, why is it that most women would never admit that, but you do?” “Because they’re never sure that they ought to be wanted. I am.” “I do admire self-confidence.” “Self-confidence was only one part of what I said, Hank.” “What’s the whole?” “Confidence of my value—and yours.

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    Dagny heard a cold, implacable voice saying somewhere within her: Remember it—remember it well—it is not often that one can see pure evil—look at it...

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    Do I strike you as a man with a miserable inferiority complex?” “Good God, no!” “Only that kind of man spends his life running after women.

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    ...didn’t you enjoy meeting the young men?” “What men? There wasn’t a man there I couldn’t squash ten of.

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    Do not cry that it is our duty to serve you. We do not recognize such duty. Do not cry that you need us. We do not consider need a claim. Do not cry that you own us. You don’t.

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    Don’t tell me your evaluation. Give me the facts.

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    ...do you think any of these people are enjoying it? They’re just straining to be more senseless and aimless than usual. To be light and unimportant . . . You know, I think that only if one feels immensely important can one feel truly light.

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    He and I had always felt as if we were fellow survivors from some vanishing age or land, in the gibbering swamp of mediocrity around us.

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    ...he had acquired the conviction that one had to concern oneself with the rational, not the insane—that one had to seek that which was right, because the right answer always won—that the senseless, the wrong, the monstrously unjust could not work, could not succeed, could do nothing but defeat itself.

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    ...he had never known fear because, against any disaster, he had held the omnipotent cure of being able to act.

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    But don’t I have any freedom of speech?” “In your own house. Not in mine.” “Don’t I have a right to my own ideas?” “At your own expense. Not at mine.” “Don’t you tolerate any differences of opinion?” “Not when I’m paying the bills.

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    Don’t make the mistake of thinking that these three pupils of mine are some sort of superhuman creatures. They’re something much greater and more astounding than that: they’re normal men—a thing the world has never seen—and their feat is that they managed to survive as such. It does take an exceptional mind and a still more exceptional integrity to remain untouched by the brain-destroying influences of the world’s doctrines, the accumulated evil of centuries—to remain human, since the human is the rational.

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    Don’t try it.” “What?” “To win any battle when I set the terms.” She did not answer. She was struck by what the words made her feel; it was not an emotion, but a physical sensation of pleasure...

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    ..don’t worry about the goddamn bastards.” The two words sounded shockingly violent, because his face and voice remained calm.

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    Happiness is the successful state of life, pain is an agent of death. Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values. A morality that dares to tell you to find happiness in the renunciation of your happiness—to value the failure of your values—is an insolent negation of morality.

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    He despised causeless affection, just as he despised unearned wealth. They professed to love him for some unknown reason and they ignored all the things for which he could wish to be loved. He wondered what response they could hope to obtain from him in such manner—if his response was what they wanted.

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    He felt nothing for them now, nothing but the merciless zero of indifference, not even the regret of a loss.

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    He had the ease of an expert, so confident that it seemed casual, but it was the ease of a tremendous concentration, the concentration on one’s task that has the ruthlessness of an absolute.

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    He held her, pressing the length of his body against hers with a tense, purposeful insistence, his hand moving over her breasts as if he were learning a proprietor’s intimacy with her body, a shocking intimacy that needed no consent from her, no permission. She tried to pull herself away, but she only leaned back against his arms long enough to see his face and his smile, the smile that told her she had given him permission long ago. She thought that she must escape; instead, it was she who pulled his head down to find his mouth again.

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    He led her to the bedroom, he took off her clothes, without a word, in the manner of an owner undressing a person whose consent is not required. He clasped the pendant on her shoulders. She stood naked, the stone between her breasts, like a sparkling drop of blood.

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    He looked at her with a touch of defiance, as if waiting for an angry answer. But her answer was worse than anger: her face remained expressionless, as if the truth or falsehood of his convictions were of no concern to her any longer.

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    He knew that the conference was a trap; he knew also that he was walking into it with nothing for any trappers to gain.

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