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Francisco D’Anconia’s Speech: Sex and Morality

March 11th, 2008 · 29 Comments

“Do you remember what I said about money and about the men who seek to reverse the law of cause and effect? The men who try to replace the mind by seizing the products of the mind? Well, the man who despises himself tries to gain self- esteem from sexual adventures–which can’t be done, because sex is not the cause, but an effect and an expression of a man’s sense of his own value.”

“You’d better explain that.”

“Did it ever occur to you that it’s the same issue? The men who think that wealth comes from the material resources and has no intellectual root or meaning, are the men who think–for the same reason–that sex is a physical capacity which functions independently of ones mind, choice or code of values. They think that your body creates a desire and makes a choice for you just about in some such way as if iron ore transformed itself into railroad rails of its own volition. Love is blind, they say; sex is impervious to reason and mocks the power of all philosophers. But, in fact, a man’s sexual choice is the result and the sum of his fundamental convictions. Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy on life. Show me the woman he sleeps with and I will tell you his valuation of himself. No matter what corruption he’s taught about the virtue of selflessness, sex is the most profoundly selfish of all acts, an act which he cannot perform for any motive but his own enjoyment–just try to think of performing it in a spirit of selfless charity!–an act which is not possible in self-abasement, only in self-exaltation, only in confidence of being desired and being worthy of desire. It is an act that forces him to stand naked in spirit, as well as in body, and to accept his real ego as his standard of value. He will always be attracted to the woman who reflects his deepest vision of himself, the woman whose surrender permits him to experience–or to fake–a sense of self-esteem. The man who is proudly certain of his own value, will want the highest type of woman he can find, the woman he admires, the strongest, the hardest to conquer — because only the possession of a heroine will give him the sense of an achievement, not the possession of a brainless slut. He does not seek to . . . what’s the matter?” he asked, seeing the look on Rearden’s face, a look of intensity much beyond mere interest in an abstract discussion.

“Go on,” said Rearden tensely.

“He does not seek to gain his value, he seeks to express it. There is no conflict between the standards of his mind and the desires of his body. But the man who is convinced of his own worthlessness will be drawn to a woman he despises–because she will reflect his own secret self, she will release him from that objective reality in which he is a fraud, she will give him a momentary illusion of his own value and a momentary escape from the morel code that damns him. Observe the ugly mess which most men make of their sex lives–and observe the mess of contradictions which they hold as their moral philosophy. One proceeds from the other. Love is our response to our highest values–and can be nothing else. Let a man corrupt his values and his view of existence, let him profess that love is not self-enjoyment but self-denial, that virtue consists, not of pride, but of pity or pain or weakness or sacrifice, that the noblest love is born, not of admiration, but of charity, not in response to values, but in response to flaws–and he will have cut himself in two. His body will not obey him, it will not respond, it will make him impotent toward the woman he professes to love and draw him to the lowest type of whore he can find. His body will always follow the ultimate logic of his deepest convictions; if he believes that flaws are values, he has damned existence as evil and only the evil will attract him. He has damned himself and he will feel that depravity is all he is worthy of enjoying. He has equated virtue with pain and he will feel that vice is the only realm of pleasure. Then he will scream that his body has vicious desires of its own which his mind cannot conquer, that sex is sin, that true love is a pure emotion of the spirit. And then he will wonder why love brings him nothing but boredom, and sex–nothing but shame.”

Rearden said slowly, looking off, not realizing that he was thinking aloud, “At least . . . I’ve never accepted that other tenet . . . I’ve never felt guilty about making money.”

Francisco missed the significance of the first two words; he smiled and said eagerly, “You do see that it’s the same issue? No, you’d never accept any part of their vicious creed. You wouldn’t be able to force it upon yourself. If you tried to damn sex as evil, you’d still find yourself, against your will, acting on the proper moral premise. You’d be attracted to the highest woman you met. You’d always want a heroine. You’d be incapable of self-contempt. You’d be unable to believe that existence is evil and that you’re a helpless creature caught in an impossible universe. You’re the man who’s spent his life shaping matter to the purpose of his mind. You’re the man who would know that just as an idea unexpressed in physical action is contemptible hypocrisy, so is platonic love–and just as physical action unguided by an idea is a fool’s self-fraud, so is sex when cut off from one’s code of values. Its’ the same issue, and you would know it. Your inviolate sense of self-esteem would know it. You would be incapable of desire for a woman you despised. Only the man who extols the purity of a love devoid of desire, is capable of the depravity of a desire devoid of love. But observe that most people are creatures cut in half who keep swinging desperately to one side or to the other. One kind of half is the man who despises money, factories, skyscrapers and his own body. He holds undefined emotions about non-conceivable subjects as the meaning of life and his claim of virtue. And he cries with despair, because he can feel nothing for the woman he respects, but finds himself in bondage to an irresistible passion for a slut from the gutter. He is the man whom people call an idealist. The other kind of half is the man whom people call practical, the man who despises principles, abstractions, art, philosophy and his own mind. He regards the acquisition of material objects as the only goal of existence– and he laughs at the need to consider their purpose or their source. He expects them to give him pleasure– and he wonders why the more he gets, the less he feels. He is the man who spends his time chasing women. Observe the triple fraud which he perpetrates upon himself. He will not acknowledge his need of self-esteem, since he scoffs at such a concept as moral values; yet he feels the profound self-contempt which comes from believing that he is a piece of meat. He will not acknowledge, but he knows that sex is the physical expression of a tribute to personal values. So he tries, by going through the motions of the effect, to acquire that which should have been the cause. He tries to gain a sense of his own value from the women who surrender to him– and he forgets that the women he picks have neither character nor judgment nor standard of value. he tells himself that all he’s after is physical pleasure– but observe that he tires of his woman in a week or a night, that he despises professional whores and that he loves to imagine he is seducing virtuous girls who make a great exception for his sake. It is the feeling of achievement that he seeks and never finds. What glory can there be in the conquest of a mindless body? Now that is your woman chaser. Does the description fit me?

“God, no!”

“Then you can judge, without asking my word for it, how much chasing of women I’ve done in my life.” 


Francisco’s speech, Atlas Shrugged pg 453 - 455, by Ayn Rand.

Thank you Jeffrey for putting this on his MySpace account!

Tags: Books · People

29 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Daniel // Jul 2, 2008 at 12:26 am

    Wow what a change from his childhood.

  • 2 gmat // Dec 27, 2008 at 10:05 am

    greatest speech ever

  • 3 Cana // Jan 21, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Love this speech! I had to stop and read it over and over again. tore the words from my stomach- where they could not have fully formed a comprehensive explanation such as this, alone.
    Thank you Rand!

  • 4 Jenny // Jul 3, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    My favorite speech in the whole book! I am so glad found it online so I can forward it to my friend who is at a low point and wish he could pull himself up.

  • 5 Mike // Aug 30, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    Can anyone actually explain to me why people don’t agree with this; why people do not understand this flawless logic and philosophy?

  • 6 ManAboutDallas // Sep 20, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    @ Mike: because people would rather think with their glands instead of their brains; it’s far easier, after all. Thinking is HARD WORK! “Hard work!? Omigod, horrors, I can’t be bothered by hard work! Go away! Begone with ‘ye! Out! Out, damned spot!”

    It also requires the capacity for intellectual honesty, another trait long-gone from American society. All that matters any more is “How does that make you FEEL?”

  • 7 Student of Philosophy // Nov 18, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    @ Mike

    Opposed to the belief of the objectivists, there are thinking people capable of not believing in Rand’s Objectivism. Most have dismissed Rand for her hatred of homosexuals and her questionable views on the Middle Eastern conflict.

    Many of Rand’s claims rely on a certain degree of self-evidence (according to her) and she has never truely was able to provide a flawless refutation of Skepticism/Existentialism, etc.

    Her metaphysical views were very Aristotelian (A=A). She is not willing to dispute the three axioms of existance, identity, and conciousness. While this may seem fine, Christianity also applies this concept. There is no question whether God exists, this is assumed to be true =).

    Her ethics are questionable for MANY reasons, too many to list here. She is entirely against force, but then at some times she isn’t (I.E. the Palestinian conflict). While she is entirely anti-force, she unknowingly supports it (One does not nec. have to physically hold a gun in order to condone killing).

    The defense of Objectivism ultimately relies on circular reasoning. That is why, for the longest time, many academic philosophers wouldn’t even both to touch her works. It also didn’t help that Rand wasn’t much of a debater (watch some Rand videos on youtube) and she couldn’t flawlessly defend Objectivism in interviews.

    Not to mention she used a misrepresentation of argument fallacy on socialism over, and over, and over (anti-statist socialists do exist). Academic scholars/Marxists mostly view her opinions of socialism as Bolshevism, which we share the same disagreements with =).

  • 8 John // Dec 4, 2009 at 7:01 am

    @ Student of Philosophy

    So Rand’s philosophical ideas should be dismissed because of her personal views on the middle east? What kind of philosophy are you a student of anyway?

    Furthermore, you compare the three axioms to the dogma of the church? Really? Would you like to refute Existence (I spelled it right) as an axiom? Oops, you just validated it by trying to refute it.

    Against force? Hardly, the initiation of force is to be met with retaliatory force. This is proper role of the courts and law enforcement.

    You only need to use circular reasoning with Objectivism if you refute the axioms through arbitrary assertion that they are incorrect, which cannot be proven (as they are axioms; they can only be validated which is more primal and solid than proof) and cannot even be invalidated since any attempt to invalidate them causes them to be demonstrated and validated in the process (which is what makes them….AXIOMS).

    Misrepresentation of argument? If you are a socialist, you are a statist. End of story. You are getting hung up over a personal idea about what statism looks like in practice. Furthermore, just because someone decides to pronounce the contradiction that they are a non-statist socialist does not re-shape reality so that that contradiction is correct. That is rationalization. The attempt to cause reality to conform to your wishes.

    Rand has to be read deeply, applied, contemplated and then met with a healthy and reasonable sense of disconnecting the personal life of the person who put words to the philosophy from the ideas themselves.

    I applaud you for taking up the long hard slog of studying reality and thought. It just seems you need to apply a bit more reality to your thoughts.

  • 9 Alexa // Dec 12, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    I would assume that those who do not accept Rand’s philosophy are those people who, as described in this passage, except the expression of their highest values as sin. Those who cannot separate the words “evil” and “selfish”, and thus are forced to think of their self as evil. Those who cannot love anything that tells them they are volatile, because to love such a thing would require loving themselves, and this would be selfish. These are the people who struggle with Objectivism…those people who cannot love the good and right.

  • 10 Shepherd P. Smith // May 22, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    This is by far the most compelling speech in the whole book, Ayn Rand is truly a defender American ideals.

  • 11 Asrura // Jun 13, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    I am half way through Atlas Shrugged, and I find it to be the most profound book I have ever read. Not because I was shocked by her ideas/concepts but because the ideas presented in the novel so succinctly represented my own. I had some feeling that many of the ideas that society taught us and force in to our minds are not quite right but never could identify or define what they are. Now, I can clear see and define those suspicions.

    While she has her own personal fault and there may be gaps and inconsistencies in Objectivism, many of the ideas that she presented are definitely thought provoking and I would dare say that those ideas are correct and flawless.

  • 12 Nietzsche // Sep 24, 2010 at 4:42 am

    Whoever despises himself nonetheless respects himself as one who despises.

  • 13 RnBram // Nov 16, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    @StudentOfPhilosophy, … you are echoing the “Kool-Aid” that blocks rational thought. Work through “An Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology”, several times. The work through “Objectivism: the philosophy of Ayn Rand”. Read articles such as those in “The Objectivist Forum”, or the early “Intellectual Activist”.

    If you are honest, you will quickly find that the common view is egregiously dishonest.

    Be what the World needs. Be honest.

  • 14 RnBram // Nov 16, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Aaarghhh. “Then work through…”

  • 15 Annie // May 20, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Actually, it’s really easy for a man to perform sex as an act of “selfless charity”. Just pick a really ugly, old, disgusting woman and root her!

  • 16 Danny // Sep 10, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    This speech (as well as the rest of the book) changed my life

  • 17 a4146747 // Nov 2, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    I’ve said that least 4146747 times. The problem this like that is they are just too compilcated for the average bird, if you know what I mean

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  • 22 Econlog:My Personal Favorites | Diary Of A Libertarian NerdDiary Of A Libertarian Nerd // Oct 27, 2013 at 10:18 am

    […] with other people. 3. Lying is often a convenient way to avoid your mate’s jealousy. On the Randian view, “a man’s sexual choice is the result and the sum of his fundamental […]

  • 23 Sobriety has had unexpected impact on marriage - SoberRecovery : Alcoholism Drug Addiction Help and Information // Jun 13, 2014 at 8:37 am

    […] thought. Reminds me of an a concept by Ayn Rand in her ‘Atlas shrugged’ book, here is a link: Francisco D I have many mixed opinions on the book, but this part I really like because it describes very well […]

  • 24 my self esteem has gone MIA... - SoberRecovery : Alcoholism Drug Addiction Help and Information // Jul 12, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    […] like, from Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’ book. A little long but is worth a read through, I think: Francisco D __________________ "We are the facilitators of our own creative evolution." Bill […]

  • 25 I've heard Rand mentioned a few times here - Page 2 - SoberRecovery : Alcoholism Drug Addiction Help and Information // Jul 18, 2014 at 8:28 am

    […] is what’s known as her "Theory of Sex", on how attraction works, from Atlas Shrugged. Francisco D It’s far from being very original and unique thought, though. A similar one can be found, for […]

  • 26 Beautiful Articles! | L.I.F.E. // Sep 18, 2014 at 11:48 am

    […] time favourite! Fransisco’s speech on love and sex Share this:TwitterFacebookGoogleLike this:Like […]

  • 27 SR // Dec 28, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    Why don’t people “believe” in this “brilliant” analysis? Well, I can think of a few reasons.

    Because they have read better things.

    Because it is a classic example of a false dichotomy.

    Because they themselves have been in love, and they know it is neither the expression of ultimate “selfishness,” even in the rather exalted Randian sense, nor of self-abdication, much less “self-abasement.” Why in the world would it be? Neither seems to have anything to do with erotic love.

    This is like saying there are only two theories of value in the world — one that proceeds from a highly simplistic, sentimentalist interpretation of the New Testament, or one that vulgarizes Jeremy Bentham and throws in a little out-of-context Nietzsche, as seasoning.

    I, for one, recommend Plato’s Symposium, Badiou’s In Praise of Love, and Neruda’s love poems. Parts of Rousseau’s Emile are interesting as well. But this is just a start. If you’re short on time, you can’t go wrong with Plato.

    And if you can do no better than choose between self-exaltation or self-abasement, well, then yes — by all means go with the former. At least this type of “selfishness” is somewhat more likely to put you on a path to eventual understanding. It also feels a lot better.

    In her private life Rand was quite seductive herself, come to think of it, and chose some interesting men. :)

    But would you really want to emulate her? Don’t take my word for it, read up on it yourself. ;)

  • 28 The Virgin and the Machine Gune | Gornahoor // Jan 11, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    […] I wonder who else has be knocked to the floor by that substitution? She even insists that Pope John Paul II’s lectures on the Theology of the Body were derived from Rand’s views of sexuality. […]

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