Yoshinobu Ashihara (1918–2003) was a Japanese architect who worked under Marcel Breuer early in his career and later became a professor of architecture and president of the Japan Institute of Architects.
February 26, 1951
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Dear Mr. Ashihara:
Thank you for your very interesting letter. I am glad that you liked the motion picture of THE FOUNTAINHEAD, and I appreciate profoundly that you wrote to me about it. I am particularly glad that it was the philosophy of the picture that interested you and that it has made you want to read my novel. It supports my belief that philosophical ideas hold true for all people everywhere and that there will always be men who will respond to a philosophical truth in every country on earth.
You say that the picture conveyed to you the impression that I place too much emphasis on the ability of an individual. I cannot possibly emphasize it too strongly. The ability of an individual is the only thing that counts and the only source of all great achievements, in architecture and in every other profession. You refer to the techniques and materials provided by science. Where does science come from, if not from the ability of individuals? The higher the scientific development of mankind, the more ability is required from individuals in order to use the achievements of science. An incompetent man cannot use the products of scientific genius. Collectives of men have never achieved anything. There is no such thing as a collective anyway—it is only a number of men. Each man has to be judged by his own ability, and his ability is the only thing that matters. A hundred morons do not constitute a genius. The fundamental tenet of my philosophy is that individual ability is the fountainhead of all achievement,
February 26, 1951 Page 2.
of all good, of all greatness in human life, and the only means of man’s survival.
I think that you will be able to understand my philosophy more fully after you have read my novel. I will be very interested to hear from you about it.
Thank you very much for the pictures of your building which you sent me. I was very impressed with your work and I think that it is an excellent example of modern architecture. Please accept my best wishes for your future and success.
I am enclosing a printed letter about THE FOUNTAINHEAD which may interest you.