Volume 11, No. 1 – July 2011 (Issue #21)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Preface: The Eleventh Year – Chris Matthew Sciabarra
PROMETHEUS: AYN RAND’S ETHIC OF CREATION, pp. 3-18
Like Prometheus, Ayn Rand’s heroes would seem valuable much less for what they do for themselves, than for others. I argue, first, however, that the ethical scheme implied by her treatment of these figures is properly classed as neither “egoist” nor “altruist,” for the value invested by the creator in his creation eludes both views. A more satisfactory Randian ethic of creation, it becomes clear, must involve a distinction between Nietzschean “self-reverence” versus mere “self-interest” and, much more substantially, Aristotle’s distinction between those in whom “self-love” is good and those in whom it is not.
AYN RAND’S ECONOMIC THOUGHT, pp. 19-44
This article explicates Ayn Rand’s economic thought as expressed in her nonfiction and fiction writings. It concludes that Rand’s formal knowledge of economics was relatively limited and that her case for the free market economy is almost entirely ethical and political. Nevertheless, her insight into the complexity of such an economy was acute and her view that true human flourishing is only possible in a laissez-faire context rested on the recognition that it is the only context that can completely liberate the creative potential of the human mind.
A POLITICAL STANDARD FOR ABSOLUTE POLITICAL FREEDOM, pp. 45-62
This paper derives political freedoms from the ethics of egoism, demonstrates the equivalence of absolute political freedom and Liberty, and advocates absolute political freedom as a moral ideal. Protection of voluntary consent along an individual’s entire politically legitimate valuing chain provides a standard for identifying political freedoms. Actions meeting the standard are political freedoms. Actions violating the standard are violations of political freedom. As a political standard, protection of voluntary consent is presented as superior to either the non-initiation of force or the non-aggression axiom.
AYN RAND, RELIGION, AND LIBERTARIANISM, pp. 63-79
Ayn Rand most certainly favored liberty, although she renounced the “libertarian” appellation. Yet, in her continuous, contemptuous and shrill attacks on religion, she was denigrating an institution that has made great contributions to freedom. The present essay is an attempt to right the balance; to demonstrate that religion and liberty are not the enemies supposed by Rand.
THE REWRITING OF AYN RAND’S SPOKEN ANSWERS, pp. 81-151
This essay compares audio recordings of Ayn Rand’s question and answer sessions with Robert Mayhew’s renditions as published in the Estate-approved volume Ayn Rand Answers. Mayhew, it turns out, rewrote nearly every answer included in the book. He abridged long answers, rearranged parts of answers, left transcription errors uncorrected, and was frequently insensitive to Rand’s style of speaking. Mayhew even deleted portions of a few answers deemed embarrassing to Leonard Peikoff and the Estate of Ayn Rand (e.g., references to cigarette smoking or to Nathaniel Branden) and kept other answers (e.g., about homosexuality or amphetamine use) out of the volume entirely.
ESSAYS ON ATLAS SHRUGGED, pp. 153-56
This essay provides a review of Essays on Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”, edited by Robert Mayhew, who has edited three other books, each devoted to one of Rand’s novels. This collection offers 22 essays on a variety of topics.
Walter Block is the Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair in Economics at Loyola University, New Orleans, Louisiana 70118. He is also Adjunct Scholar at the Mises Institute and at the Hoover Institution. He has previously taught at the University of Central Arkansas, Holy Cross College, Baruch (C.U.N.Y.) and Rutgers Universities, and has worked in various research capacities for the Fraser Institute, the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Tax Foundation, The Financial Post, and Business Week magazine. Having earned his Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University, he has published numerous popular and scholarly articles on economics. An economic commentator on national television and radio, he lectures widely on public policy issues to university students, service, professional and religious organizations. He is the editor of a dozen books and is the author of seven more (the most famous of which is Defending the Undefendable). He has served as editor for The Journal of Labor Economics, Cultural Dynamics, The Review of Austrian Economics, The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, The Journal of Accounting, Ethics and Public Policy and The Journal of Libertarian Studies. He has contributed over 135 articles and reviews to these and other refereed journals. He was converted to libertarianism by Nathaniel Branden and Ayn Rand, whom he first met when the latter lectured at Brooklyn College, where he was an undergraduate.
Samuel Bostaph, Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Dallas, Irving, Texas, 75062, is the author of numerous scholarly and popular articles on economic theory, economic history, the history of economic thought and political economy. He is currently at work on a book on the main figures in the first and second generations of the Austrian School of Economics.
Robert L. Campbell is a Professor of Psychology at Clemson University, Brackett Hall 410A, Clemson SC 29634-1355 USA. His most recent publications are a chapter on “Constructive Processes: Abstraction, generalization, and dialectics” in The Cambridge Companion to Piaget (edited by Ulrich Müller, Leslie Smith, and Jeremy Carpendale, 2009) and an article on “Sources of self-esteem: From theory to measurement and back again” (with Sarah Eisner and Nicole Riggs, in New Ideas in Psychology 28, 338-49; 2010).
Robert Hartford earned a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971. His interests include the foundations of ethics and the application of epistemology and ethics to promote a culture of self-responsibility and political freedom. He has presented talks at Objectivist conferences on the nature of value, a proof of egoism, absolute political freedom, and social justice. His paper, “Objectivity and the Proof of Egoism,” appears in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 8, no. 2 (Spring): 291-303.
James Montmarquet, Professor of Philosophy at Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tennessee, has worked mainly on the subject of the moral and epistemic virtues. He is the author of Epistemic Virtue and Doxastic Responsibility (Rowman and Littlefield, 1993), and numerous articles.
Fred Seddon currently holds adjunct professorships at three universities in South Western Pennsylvania. He was president of the West Virginia Philosophical Society from 1988-2010, and is an associate member of the Center for the Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. He is an international scholar and the author of over 150 books, articles, book reviews and speeches, including such works as Ayn Rand, Objectivists and the History of Philosophy, An Introduction to the Philosophical Works of F. S. C. Northrop, and Aristotle and Lukasiewicz on the Principle of Contradiction.
Volume 11, No. 2 – December 2011 (Issue #22)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
SACRIFICE AND THE APOCALYPSE: A GIRARDIAN READING OF ATLAS SHRUGGED, pp. 161-88
This essay uses the mimetic theory of controversial literary anthropologist Rene Girard to explicate a central but neglected theme in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged: sacrifice. In Rand’s view, big government is supported by a sacrificial ideology founded in the idea of Original Sin that fosters the petty resentments of the masses while scapegoating the productive elite. John Galt triggers the self-destruction of this “infernal” sacrificial machine by withdrawing its intended victims. The resulting political collapse opens the way to a Randian utopia beyond the theorizing of Girard (and Friedrich Nietzsche, whose work is discussed in conclusion), a society without sacrifice.
OBJECTIVISM AND CHRISTIANITY, pp. 189-213
The two primary philosophies upholding reason today are Objectivism and Christianity. They may seem like strange bedfellows, but many of the large perceived gaps between them disappear upon close inspection. This paper analyzes five areas (creation; tabula rasa; life as the ultimate standard; romantic love, sex and marriage; and altruism and the trader principle) in which Objectivist philosophy can be enhanced by assuming Christian philosophical axioms. The argument focuses on Christianity as a philosophy and intentionally does not assume a transcendent God. In each case, the Christian philosophical axioms are more realistic and better supported empirically than the Objectivist axioms.
THE SIM-DIF MODEL AND COMPARISON, pp. 215-32
This article presents a new conceptual or categorization model. It will be compared to a similar but simpler model. The models are given in the form of Venn diagrams. The model and examples using are explored to illuminate the role of similarities and differences in concept formation, which is sometimes complex. It explores abstraction, conceptual change by children and in science, and similarity metrics. It proposes that comparison is the basic act of thought.
WHAT ABOUT SUICIDE BOMBERS? A TERSE RESPONSE TO A TERSE OBJECTION, pp. 233-36
Stressing that the pronoun “I” picks out one and only one person in the world (i.e., me), I argue against Hunt (and other like-minded Rand commentators) that the supposed “hard case” of destructive people who do not care for their own lives poses no special difficulty for rational egoism. I conclude that the proper response to a terse objection like “What about suicide bombers?” is the equally terse assertion “But I don’t want to get blown up.”
THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR RAND, pp. 237-48
100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand is an enjoyable compendium of mostly favorable interviews of those who knew or met Ayn Rand. While it contains many valuable insights about Rand and her life, it fails to achieve its objective in providing a good selection of interviews of those who knew Rand in various “contexts” and “relationships,” contrary to what editor Scott McConnell claims. Those who are interested in the movement side of Objectivism, which developed in the 1950s and 1960s, will be disappointed in the lack of attention paid to this part of her life.
FLOURISHING AND SYNTHESIS, pp. 249-53
Edward W. Younkins’s book, Flourishing and Happiness in a Free Society, is a welcome contribution to individualist thought. Focusing on Aristotle, Ayn Rand, Carl Menger, Ludwig von Mises, and Murray Rothbard, Younkins demonstrates the compatibility of Aristotelian liberalism, Objectivism, and Austrian Economics. Younkins suggests that synthesizing these philosophies will lead to human flourishing and happiness. These philosophies share certain general principles that can serve as moral bases for political action.
Marc Champagne is a Teaching Assistant, Department of Philosophy, York University, Toronto. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM). His research interests include the nature of consciousness, logical inference, arguments for metaphysical realism and anti-skepticism, the causal and discursive mechanisms whereby knowledge claims come to be justified, alternative approaches to the study of meaning, informational theories of concepts, and the ramifications of embodiment for agency, perception, and normativity. Recent publications include “Can I Prevent you from Entering my Mind?” (Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences), and “Axiomatizing Umwelt Normativity” (a sustained development of Rand’s ethical views, in the English-Russian periodical Sign Systems Studies).
Eric B. Dent, Professor of Management, University of North Carolina, Pembroke, is committed to an interdisciplinary research agenda that has resulted in publications in behavioral science, complexity theory, systems science, education, consulting, history, communications, spirituality, organization development, and philosophy journals. Dr. Dent earned the B.S. and M.S. degrees in Computer Science from Emory University and the M.B.A. and Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from The George Washington University.
Oliver Gerland III is Associate Professor of Theatre and member of the Humanities faculty at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is the author of A Freudian Poetics for Ibsen’s Theatre (Mellen, 1999) and numerous essays on theatre-related subjects including “From Playhouse to P2P Network: The History and Theory of Performance under Copyright Law in the United States” (Theatre Journal, 2007), Gerland received his Ph.D. in Drama and Humanities from Stanford University where he was introduced to the ideas of René Girard. He presented “A Girardian Theory of Stage Fright” at the 2006 meeting of the Colloquium on Violence & Religion and another Girard-related paper, “The Primal Scene of Culture, the Primal Scene of Theatre,” at the 2005 conference of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education.
Merlin Jetton, an investment actuary (retired), has a B.S. in math, and is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and a Chartered Financial Analyst. He has published articles in professional journals and periodicals, The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, and several in the philosophy journal Objectivity.
Allen Mendenhall is a writer and attorney living in Atlanta. He is an adjunct professor of law at Faulkner University Jones School of Law. He thanks his cousin Slade Mendenhall, an Objectivist, for reading an early draft of this review.
Neil Parille is an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Connecticut. The views expressed are his own.