Conclusion. Having briefly run through some of the major challenges posed by the Cognitive Revolution to orthodox Objectivism, a recapitulation of the main points would be in order.
1. Rand's blank slate view of human nature, particularly her denial that human choice (i.e., free will) is not "saddled with tendencies," is not a plausible position.
2. There is no compelling evidence to support Rand's assertion that emotions are a product of an individual's premises.
3. The Randian view that nothing gets in the "subconscious" without first being in the consciousness is grossly implausible, and about as scientifically creditable as the view that the earth is flat.
4. Rand greatly exaggerates the role that consciousness plays in concept-formation, leading her to place far too much importance on definitions and other trappings of formalized, conscious thinking.
5. Wittgenstein's "family resemblance" theory of concept demonstrates the poverty of Rand's classical view of concepts.
6. Rand's view that "Reason is man's only means of grasping reality and acquiring knowledge" is falsified by the overwhelming evidence for intuitive forms of thinking (such as Oakeshott's "practical knowledge"), which do not use "reason."
7. Rand's view that "Emotions are not tools of cognition" are falsified by cutting edge research by neuroscientist Antonio Damasio.
8. Rand's belief that epistemological truth is best attained through introspection is refuted by the view, common in the cognitive science world, that "unconscious thought is 95 percent of all thought." Introspection, then, would only have access to 5 percent of thought! Not a good vantage point for understanding human cognition!
9. Since most of human thought is hidden from introspection, anyone who claims to understand cognition from their introspective observations is talking through their hat; and any epistemology found on such slim pickings must, ipso facto, be largely speculative. This is the major problem with Randian epistemology. It is mostly speculative, rather than empirical and scientific. Rand is not an authority on human cognition. Cognitive scientists, who study human cognition empirically, using scientific methods of research and the rigorous system of peer review to catch errors, are likely to know a great deal more about cognition than Rand.
10. The cognitive unconscious and the important role of tacit, intuitive knowledge constitutes a huge blow to foundationalism, which is so central to Objectivism, particularly to the Objectivist theory of history. Non-verbal forms of knowledge, which form a critical component of human knowledge, cannot be proved or validated or deduced from axioms or from basic truths.
Having refuted the worst of Rand's epistemological pretensions, we can now examine some of the other parts of her system with greater depth and insight. Among the many lessons that can be drawn from the Cognitive Revolution, perhaps the most important has to do with the inevitable conflict between Objectivist methodology on the one hand and the understanding of human nature on the other. Human nature is a family resemblance concept which is partially based on tacit, intuitive knowledge. Consequently, no detailed and practically effective understanding of human nature can be achieved through the sort of "reason" based essentialism advocated by Rand. The Objectivist definition of man as a "rational animal" provides no real insight into human nature and could not be used as a reliable guide in predicting how people are likely to behave in a given situation. There are individuals in politics, in business, in law enforcement, in the criminal underworld who are very savvy at guessing the probable behavior of strangers in special circumstances. This knowledge is very useful and gives them an advantage in the competition for preeminence in society.