The Fountainhead

Human Reason in The Fountainhead

From Aristotle to modern times, the faculty of human reason has been the subject of contrasting depictions in literature. In Crime and Punishment, for example, Fyodor Dostoyevsky emphasizes the tragic outcome of Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov's obsession with rationalization; in the end, the protagonist rejects his intellect and embraces religious faith. With The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand presents an opposing viewpoint - that human reason is the foundation for achievement and happiness. The fictional world of the novel includes the rare few who use their capacity for rational thought, and the masses who, according to Howard Roark, do not want reason on their side. Though Roark never doubts the power of rationality, Dominique Francon and Gail Wynand partially surrender to the reign of absurdity, and Ellsworth Monkton Toohey and his lackey Peter Keating represent the forces of complete irrationality. This spectrum of attitudes serves to dramatize the philosophy outlined in The Fountainhead, or the essential difference between first-handers like Roark and second-handers like Keating.

Society in The Fountainhead is remarkably averse to truth and reason. The New York Banner is most successful when it ignores logical evidence in favor...

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