WASHINGTON — Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) tried to send the message this week that, contrary to “urban legend,” he is not obsessed with philosopher and author Ayn Rand.
“I reject her philosophy,” Ryan told National Review on Thursday. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas. Don’t give me Ayn Rand.”
Best known for her novels “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged,” Rand advocated a philosophy that emphasizes the individual over the collective, and viewed capitalism as the only system truly based on the protection of the individual. She has been a significant influence on libertarians and conservatives.
Ryan, whose name has been floated as a possible running mate for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, appeared to be distancing himself from Rand in response to a public letter he received this week from nearly 90 faculty and administrators at Georgetown University. In their letter, they criticize him for misusing Catholic social teaching in defending his budget, which hurts the poor by proposing significant cuts to anti-hunger programs, slashing Pell Grants for low-income students and calling for a replacement of Medicare with a voucher-like system. They also invoke Rand’s name.
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