As far as metaphysical reality is concerned (omitting human actions from consideration, for the moment), there are no “facts which happen to be but could have been otherwise” as against “facts which must be.” There are only: facts which are. . . . Since things are what they are, since everything that exists possesses a specific identity, nothing in reality can occur causelessly or by chance. The nature of an entity determines what it can do and, in any given set of circumstances, dictates what it will do. The Law of Causality is entailed by the Law of Identity. Entities follow certain laws of action in consequence of their identity, and have no alternative to doing so. Metaphysically, all facts are inherent in the identities of the entities that exist; i.e., all facts are “necessary.” In this sense, to be is to be “necessary.” The concept of “necessity,” in a metaphysical context, is superfluous.

A typical package-deal, used by professors of philosophy, runs as follows: to prove the assertion that there is no such thing as “necessity” in the universe, a professor declares that just as this country did not have to have fifty states, there could have been forty-eight or fifty-two—so the solar system did not have to have nine planets, there could have been seven or eleven. It is not sufficient, he declares, to prove that something is, one must also prove that it had to be—and since nothing had to be, nothing is certain and anything goes.

The technique of undercutting man’s mind consists in palming off the man-made as if it were the metaphysically given, then ascribing to nature the concepts that refer only to men’s lack of knowledge, such as “chance” or “contingency,” then reversing the two elements of the package-deal. From the assertion: “Man is unpredictable, therefore nature is unpredictable,” the argument goes to: “Nature possesses volition, man does not—nature is free, man is ruled by unknowable forces—nature is not to be conquered, man is.”

Copyright © 1986 by Harry Binswanger. Introduction copyright © 1986 by Leonard Peikoff. All rights reserved. For information address New American Library.


Excerpts from The Ominous Parallels, by Leonard Peikoff. Copyright © 1982 by Leonard Peikoff. Reprinted with permission of Stein and Day Publishers. Excerpts from The Romantic Manifesto, by Ayn Rand. Copyright © 1971, by The Objectivist. Reprinted with permission of Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. Excerpts from Atlas Shrugged, copyright © 1957 by Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead, copyright © 1943 by Ayn Rand, and For the New Intellectual, copyright © 1961 by Ayn Rand. Reprinted by permission of the Estate of Ayn Rand. Excerpts from Philosophy: Who Needs It, by Ayn Rand. Copyright © 1982 by Leonard Peikoff, Executor, Estate of Ayn Rand. Reprinted by permission of the Estate of Ayn Rand. Excerpts from “The Philosophy of Objectivism” lecture series. Copyright © 1976 by Leonard Peikoff. Reprinted by permission. Excerpts from Alvin Toffler’s interview with Ayn Rand, which first appeared in Playboy magazine. Copyright © 1964. Reprinted by permission of Alvin Toffler. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Plume, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc.