Anthem Questions and Answers
by Ayn Rand

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According to her novel Anthem, what is Ayn Rand's definition of identity?

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To Ayn Rand, it would seem that identity is something that can be taken away in a collectivist society. Her main character, Equality, represents what would happen to a person if that identity were completely taken away. The introduction of the book explains that Rand views the word "ego" in its actual, literal meaning of "man's self." The introduction goes on to say that Rand believes that a person's identity is found in how he reasons and uses his brain to make living choices. Rand even proposes that a person's emotion comes from how s/he reasons, not from spiritual or societal norms; hence, a person's reasoning skills that lead to choices are at the center of his or her identity. Further, anyone who allows someone or something else to reason for him/her is weak and submitting to collectivism.

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Rand’s axioms: Identity. Ayn Rand explicates this "axiom" as follows: To exist is to be something, as distinguished from the nothing of nonexistence, it is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes. Centuries ago, the man who was—no matter what his errors—the greatest of your philosophers, has stated the formula defining the concept of existence and the rule of all knowledge: A is A. A thing is itself. You have never grasped the meaning of his statement. I am here to complete it: Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification.