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The Metaphysical Versus the Man-Made

James Valliant, Don Watkins

Presented at: Discussing Ayn Rand's Essays

Date: Mar 10, 2021

It is the metaphysically given that must be accepted: it cannot be changed. It is the man-made that must never be accepted uncritically: it must be judged, then accepted or rejected and changed when necessary.
 — Ayn Rand, Philosophy: Who Needs It

Ayn Rand’s distinction between the metaphysically given and the man-made has been vital in helping us rationally approach issues of agency, moral responsibility and the acceptance of reality, among others. In this session, we will explore several questions around the metaphysically given and the man-made. For instance:
  • How does this distinction relate to moral responsibility?
  • What are the consequences of not properly distinguishing between the metaphysically given and the man-made? Why is it so important to do so?
  • How can we use this distinction to better understand human nature, and what aspects of ourselves are in our control?

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