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The Objectivist Sabbath

The Objectivist Sabbath

3 Mins
July 1, 2019
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As with most people, my working schedule has been blurred. With colleagues in different time zones, 24/7 emails and texts, I can’t remember the last time I had an evening or weekend to myself—the traditional periods of respite.

But there are two holidays when I refuse to work: Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July.

Thanksgiving is the easy one to explain. It’s a harvest festival, deeply connected with the Objectivist virtue of productiveness when we enjoy what we have reaped and sowed. As a secular person, the thanks I give are to America, for the freedom that allows me to work for my vision.

Which brings me to the Fourth. I am an intellectual and writer by profession. I am protected in my work by the First Amendment, for which I am deeply grateful. As a spokesman for an unconventional view, I’m especially aware of how often innovators of ideas, throughout history, have been persecuted, exiled, tortured, and executed.

I think of Frederick Douglass. After escaping slavery, Douglass could have lived out his days in peace and quiet somewhere. Instead he chose to champion the cause of abolitionism and publicly fight to free those who were still enslaved, and later to champion liberty for all.

I think of Ayn Rand, who escaped Soviet Russia and who, as an immigrant to the United States, took advantage of her new freedom to become a bestselling novelist, a philosopher, and the founder of an intellectual movement that still influences the lives of individuals here in America and throughout the world.

In America, thanks to the Founding Fathers, and despite the decline in respect for free speech in universities, I know that I won’t be fined for speaking my mind, or told by government what I can or can’t say, much less suffer the stocks or the stake.

I wish my fellow producers in business and finance enjoyed the same freedom. In Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, a final scene has Judge Narragansett penning an amendment to the Constitution in parallel with the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade …"

I hope that day will come. Meanwhile, as Rand said, “I want you to look at the birth of a miracle: the United States of America. If it is ever proper for men to kneel, we should kneel when we read the Declaration of Independence.”

For Further Reading

What Is the Objectivist View of Law and Government?

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.

Atlas Shrugged
Civil Liberty