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Nathaniel Branden, RIP

Nathaniel Branden, RIP

David Kelley Ph.D

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.