The first volume to offer a comprehensive scholarly treatment of Rand’s entire corpus (including her novels, her philosophical essays, and her analysis of the events of her times), this Companion provides vital orientation and context for scholars and educated readers grappling with a controversial and understudied thinker whose enduring influence on American (and world) culture is increasingly recognized. The first publication to provide an in-depth scholarly treatment ranging over the whole of Rand’s corpus Provides informed contextual analysis for scholars in (...) a variety of disciplines Presents original research on unpublished material and drafts from the Rand archives in California Features insightful and fair-minded interpretations of Rand’s controversial positions. (shrink)
This chapter aims to make Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (ITOE) more accessible both to students of epistemology without a background in Objectivism and to students of Objectivism without a background in epistemology. It begins with a discussion of some figures and issues in the history of philosophy that helps to appreciate what Ayn Rand meant by the advocacy of reason and why she saw the issue of concepts as central to epistemology. The chapter then considers Rand view of consciousness and (...) sense perception, and also discusses her view of the process by which concepts and a whole system of conceptual knowledge are built upon a perceptual foundation. Next, it looks more closely at Rand's conception of objectivity and how it relates to her theory of concepts. Finally, the chapter considers the standards that follow from Rand's theory for the proper formation and use of concepts. (shrink)
The Nicomachean Ethics is generally thought to be a “dialectical” work, aimed at resolving aporia in a set of endoxa, which it takes as its starting-point. I argue that Aristotle’s aim in the treatise is, rather, to produce definitions of key ethical terms, and that his starting-points are limited to evaluative and discriminative judgments of a certain sort, which are demanded by the nature of the discipline and are not endoxa. I discuss also how the definitions are reached (focusing on (...) the cases of the virtues of character) and the roles that aporiai do play in the process. (shrink)
Recent years have seen increasing attacks on the "deontological" conception (or as we call it, the guidance conception) of epistemic justification, the view that epistemology offers advice to knowers in forming beliefs responsibly. Critics challenge an important presupposition of the guidance conception: doxastic voluntarism, the view that we choose our beliefs. We assume that epistemic guidance is indispensable, and seek to answer objections to doxastic voluntarism, most prominently William Alston's. We contend that Alston falsely assumes that choice of belief requires (...) the assent to a specific propositional content. We argue that beliefs can be chosen under descriptions which do not specify their propositional content, but instead specify the mental actions by which they are formed and maintained. We argue that these actions partially constitute the beliefs and that is it in virtue of resulting from and being partially constituted by such actions that the beliefs are subject to epistemic appraisal. (shrink)
This chapter discusses a pair of interrelated theses that are hallmarks of Objectivism: the benevolent universe premise and the heroic view of man. These theses are dramatic consequences of the defining essentials of the philosophy, and they are central to the sense of life conveyed by Ayn Rand's novels. The benevolent universe premise permeates all her novels, and much of her non‐fiction, but it seems that she first conceptualized this view under this name sometime in the 1940s. The benevolent universe (...) premise is what Rand calls a metaphysical value‐judgment. It is metaphysical in that it answers a question about the nature of the universe. The chapter briefly describes the heroic view of man, looking not at the content of Rand's view of heroism, but at how this view of heroism colored her view of humanity and of specific human beings. (shrink)
Ayn Rand is among the most outspoken, and important, intellectual voices in America, wrote Playboy Magazine in 1964. She is the author of what is perhaps the most fiercely damned and admired best seller of the decade, Atlas Shrugged. This chapter discusses some of the reasons for studying Rand and some of the challenges involved. It also discusses a few features of Rand's corpus and her life that should be borne in mind when studying her. Rand seems to have regarded (...) The Fountainhead as her first mature work of fiction. The centrality of reason and volition to Rand's system explains her choice to name it Objectivism. For to be objective is volitionally to adhere to reality by following certain rules of method, a method based on facts and appropriate to man's form of cognition. Most of Rand's significant philosophical ideas are explicit in Atlas. (shrink)
Against the standard interpretation of Aristotle as a moderate realist about universals, I argue that he knew of and rejected this position and that he held that universals do not exist independently of the mind, but have a mind-independent basis in relations of commensurability and causality between particulars and their attributes.
This chapter talks about Ayn Rand's distinctive view of the philosophical roots and meaning of the events of her time ‐ especially the events of the 1960s and 1970s when she was most active as a commentator on current events. It begins with a section on Rand's political writings and activism in the 1930s and (especially) 1940s, which is followed by Rand's essays that provide a broad philosophical and historical context for the issues facing the world. While the third section (...) deals with antitrust and censorship which according to Rand were as the most pressing issues, the fourth discusses the Kennedy administration. The fifth section analyzes the brokering deals between pressure groups by the Johnson and Nixon administrations. Then, Rand's writings focus on the unprincipled nature of American foreign policy, especially during the “Cold War”. Her writings also cover the civil rights, feminist, New Left and Libertarianism movements. (shrink)
This chapter traces a significant strand in Ayn Rand's intellectual development, showing how an idea that figures prominently in her early vision of a hero develops into the central concept for which she named her mature philosophy. It provides a brief sketch on objectivity. Rand's earliest surviving reference to valuing as an activity occurs in notes she made in 1928 for a novel that she intended to call The Little Street. Both The Little Street and We the Living are set (...) in nightmare environments where the valuers are sacrificed to placate the petty resentments and short‐range desires of those who do not know how to value. The Fountainhead shows that the spiritual activity that Rand sees as the essence of human life is incompatible with a primary orientation toward other people. Atlas Shrugged contains Rand's presentation of her mature philosophy. This includes her moral theory and her view of character. (shrink)
When Ayn Rand is studied in philosophy classes, it is most often in connection with her defense of ethical egoism and rejection of altruism. This chapter discusses what it means for Rand's ethics to be egoistic. It begins by looking at different doctrines that have been called egoism and situating Rand's position relative to them. The chapter then describes Rand's characterization of altruism, and identifies instances of this view both in popular moral discourse and in the history of philosophy. Rand (...) thought that the morality of sacrifice had been a fixture of religious morality for millennia. Rand stresses the role of adherence to principle in particular as an attribute of selfishness. The chapter concludes with a discussion of Rand's insistence on describing the moral life as selfish even though, in common usage, selfish is a term of opprobrium and connotes a type of behavior that is incompatible with her morality. (shrink)
This is the first scholarly study of Atlas Shrugged, covering in detail the historical, literary, and philosophical aspects of Ayn Rand's magnum opus. Topics explored in depth include the history behind the novel's creation, publication, and reception; its nature as a romantic novel; and its presentation of a radical new philosophy.
Foundations of a Free Society brings together some of the most knowledgeable Ayn Rand scholars and proponents of her philosophy, as well as notable critics, putting them in conversation with other intellectuals who also see themselves as defenders of capitalism and individual liberty. United by the view that there is something importantly right—though perhaps also much wrong—in Rand’s political philosophy, contributors reflect on her views with the hope of furthering our understandings of what sort of society is best and why. (...) The volume provides a robust elaboration and defense of the foundation of Rand’s political philosophy in the principle that force paralyzes and negates the functioning of reason; it offers an in-depth scholarly discussion of Rand’s view on the nature of individual rights and the role of government in defending them; it deals extensively with the similarities and differences between Rand’s thought and the libertarian tradition (to which she is often assimilated) and objections to her positions arising from this tradition; it explores Rand’s relation to the classical liberal tradition, specifically with regard to her defense of freedom of the intellect; and it discusses her views on the free market, with special attention to the relation between these views and those of the Austrian school of economics. (shrink)
Kalderon describes his book as "an essay in the philosophy of perception written in the medium of historiography". It is an example of what has sometimes been called 'philosophical scholarship' or 'philosophical exegesis'—that is, scholarship on a historical thinker that is intended to bring to light a view of enduring philosophical significance and to commend it to the attention of contemporary philosophers working on the relevant issues. This is an especially challenging genre, and I do not think that Kalderon navigates (...) it successfully, but he has nonetheless produced a book of great value to students of Aristotle's theory of perception—especially students who are also interested in contemporary work on... (shrink)