Because a philosophy of reason needs a starting point.
Anyone approaching philosophy in a systematic manner has to come up with a foundation for the whole enchilada… if he wants his philosophy to have any practical use. Further, to be consistent, the fundamental premise(s) cannot be drawn from Alice in Wonderland.
A granite foundation that won't disappoint is the concept of the universe as a whole. Ayn Rand uses the phrase, "Existence exists," as her metaphysical (Metaphysics means behind physics, i.e. first principles) bedrock. I find the colloquial "everything is" acceptable, too.
The assertion "everything is" seems so obvious as to make one wonder why it's even necessary… until one hears sundry contrary assertions to the effect reality is a grand illusion. Clearly, if the whole of reality is an illusion, any work we perform to reason our way through it is pointless.
Fortunately, we're on safe ground making existence the first principle.
We can know this mainly from the fact that any attempt to deny it must necessarily use it—which illustrates a particularly useful principle Ayn Rand, with contributions from Nathaniel Branden, developed what is known as the "stolen concept." A stolen concept requires the concept it rejects, i.e. proponents have to steal legitimacy from the concept they oppose.
The classic stolen concept is found in the Marxist slogan, "all property is theft." Without rightfully owned property, the concept of theft is meaningless.
So, too, without things that truly exist, the concept of illusion is meaningless.
In addition to forming the logical basis of a good philosophy, making the claim that what is is gives fair warning to anyone who might be opposed to our humble exercise toward general enlightenment that we've set off 100% in a direction concerned with truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. "Just the facts, ma'am." No pretense or subterfuge.
ReasonToFreedom.com, Reason 101
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