March 6, 1965
Mr. Lee Clettenberg
Detroit, Michigan 48209
Dear Mr. Clettenberg:
Thank you for your letter of February 3rd.
I am pleased that you liked Atlas Shrugged and that you found my philosophy helpful.
I was interested to read of the process by which you discovered my novel. The fact that the question “Why does man need a code of values?” arrested your attention, speaks well for your method of thinking. It indicates your ability to think in terms of fundamentals. That was the important question.
You are mistaken, however, when you suggest that The Objectivist Newsletter should teach my philosophy “in everyday, understandable language.” You ask: “Do you have to use such big, fancy words?” Yes, we do. Philosophy cannot be communicated in terms of “everyday” language which has no words to denote the kind of concepts that philosophy deals with. We do not use “fancy” words—we use the simplest (and most exact) ones for the kind of subjects we discuss.
I sympathize with your problem, particularly in regard to modern dictionaries. Perhaps the older dictionaries (of about thirty years ago) may be somewhat more helpful. Or you might learn to grasp the meaning of the words we use by the context in which they occur.
I hope that you will expand your knowledge and your interest in ideas.