HomeNathaniel Branden, RIPEducationAtlas University
No items found.
Nathaniel Branden, RIP

Nathaniel Branden, RIP

3 Mins
December 4, 2014

We note with sadness the death today of Nathaniel Branden.

At our organization’s 1996 Summer Seminar, in Boulder, Colorado, Branden made the first of many appearances at our events.

Branden, circa 1960s

His lecture “ Objectivism and the Psychology of Self-Esteem ” was also a first on a larger scale, as he acknowledged in his opening words:

This is the very first time in 28 years that I have addressed an Objectivist audience, and it is a more thrilling experience for me than I have any words to communicate to you. I feel that in being here I have come home to a very important part of myself, from which I needed to separate for a while in order to gain perspective.

Branden was referring, of course, to his acrimonious rupture with Ayn Rand in 1968. He had created the NathanielBranden Institute ten years earlier, after the publication of Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, in order to promote the philosophical ideas dramatized in the novel. His 20-lecture course, The Basic Principles of Objectivism, was the first systematic statement of the philosophy—and the first of many courses offered through NBI. With Ayn Rand, he edited The Objectivist Newsletter and The Objectivist magazine, where his early work on psychology was published, along with most of Rand’s most important philosophical essays. It is hard to imagine that there would have been an Objectivist movement without him.

After his break with Rand, Branden continued his career in psychology, as an innovative therapist and teacher of therapists. His many books and lectures earned him worldwide respect as a pioneer on the subject of self-esteem. He fought against those who identify self-esteem with narcissism—both those who denigrate self-esteem for that reason and those who promote narcissism in the name of self-esteem. Through his research, teaching, and publications, Branden argued that genuine self-esteem is earned by pursuing the essentially Objectivist values of rationality, integrity, productiveness, and responsibility.

We are proud to have played even a small role in reuniting the rich stream of his psychological insight with the wider philosophy of Objectivism, where his work began.

He was a giant, an Atlas. He will live beyond his life.


Nathaniel Branden, Remembered by Edward Hudgins

The Moral Revolution in Atlas Shrugged by Nathaniel Branden
This classic, by Nathaniel Branden, was prepared under Ayn Rand 's oversight. It offers a classic analysis of Rand's portrayal of her radical, new ethical perspective.

Objectivist Ethics in an Information Age Economy by Nathaniel Branden
Today's organizations require a higher level of independence, self-reliance, self-trust, and initiative. In a word, self-esteem.

David Kelley


David Kelley

David Kelley is the founder of The Atlas Society. A professional philosopher, teacher, and best-selling author, he has been a leading proponent of Objectivism for more than 25 years.

David Kelley Ph.D
About the author:
David Kelley Ph.D

David Kelley founded The Atlas Society (TAS) in 1990 and served as Executive Director through 2016. In addition, as Chief Intellectual Officer, he was responsible for overseeing the content produced by the organization: articles, videos, talks at conferences, etc.. Retired from TAS in 2018, he remains active in TAS projects and continues to serve on the Board of Trustees.

Kelley is a professional philosopher, teacher, and writer. After earning a Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University in 1975, he joined the philosophy department of Vassar College, where he taught a wide variety of courses at all levels. He has also taught philosophy at Brandeis University and lectured frequently on other campuses.

Kelley's philosophical writings include original works in ethics, epistemology, and politics, many of them developing Objectivist ideas in new depth and new directions. He is the author of The Evidence of the Senses, a treatise in epistemology; Truth and Toleration in Objectivism, on issues in the Objectivist movement; Unrugged Individualism: The Selfish Basis of Benevolence; and The Art of Reasoning, a widely used textbook for introductory logic, now in its 5th edition.

Kelley has lectured and published on a wide range of political and cultural topics. His articles on social issues and public policy have appeared in Harpers, The Sciences, Reason, Harvard Business Review, The Freeman, On Principle, and elsewhere. During the 1980s, he wrote frequently for Barrons Financial and Business Magazine on such issues as egalitarianism, immigration, minimum wage laws, and Social Security.

His book A Life of One’s Own: Individual Rights and the Welfare State is a critique of the moral premises of the welfare state and defense of private alternatives that preserve individual autonomy, responsibility, and dignity. His appearance on John Stossel’s ABC/TV special "Greed" in 1998 stirred a national debate on the ethics of capitalism.

An internationally-recognized expert on Objectivism, he has lectured widely on Ayn Rand, her ideas, and her works. He was a consultant to the film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged, and editor of Atlas Shrugged: The Novel, the Films, the Philosophy.


Major Work (selected):

Concepts and Natures: A Commentary on The Realist Turn (by Douglas B. Rasmussen and Douglas J. Den Uyl),” Reason Papers 42, no. 1, (Summer 2021); This review of a recent book includes a deep dive into the ontology and epistemology of concepts.

The Foundations of Knowledge. Six lectures on the Objectivist epistemology.

The Primacy of Existence” and “The Epistemology of Perception,” The Jefferson School, San Diego, July 1985

Universals and Induction,” two lectures at GKRH conferences, Dallas and Ann Arbor, March 1989

Skepticism,” York University, Toronto, 1987

The Nature of Free Will,” two lectures at The Portland Institute, October 1986

The Party of Modernity,” Cato Policy Report, May/June 2003;and Navigator, Nov 2003; A widely cited article on the cultural divisions among pre-modern, modern (Enlightenment) and postmodern views.

"I Don't Have To" (IOS Journal, Volume 6, Number 1, April 1996) and “I Can and I Will” (The New Individualist, Fall/Winter 2011); Companion pieces on making real the control we have over our lives as individuals.

Ayn Rand's Ideas and Influence