1. Spanish philosopher Luca Moratal Romeu has a 415 page book on Ayn Rand’s political philosophy. The book is $37. I can read Spanish but, unfortunately, there is no Amazon preview so I don’t think I’ll be purchasing it.
2. ARI philosophers Onkar Ghate and Mike Mazza discuss criticisms of Ayn Rand by professional philosophers Sidney Hook and Robert Nozick. I can’t find Hook’s review of For the New Intellectual on the web, but my recollection was that much of his criticism was focused on Rand’s caricature of the history of philosophy in the book’s introductory essay.
3. OCON 2022 kicks off next month. Some of the talks look interesting, but when I saw that future Rand biographer Shoshana Milgram was speaking, I checked the speaker’s section. Apparently, she is still working on her biography, which will only go to 1957. I wonder if the book will ever be published. If so, it likely won’t be authorized as previously promised.
Commentary by Greg Nyquist: The discussion of Sidney Hook's review of Rand's For the New Intellectual gets bogged down in a discussion of the Objectivist axioms. Ghate accuses Hook of not understanding that Rand's axioms are "metaphysical" and that the "law of identity" applies to reality (i.e., "things are what they are"). Ghate then argues that Rand is merely applying Aristotle's view of logic and that Hook simply doesn't understand it. But the real misunderstanding is Rand's and Ghate's. Rand reifies logic into a principle of reality on the assumption that in order for logic to be "valid" (why logic, which is itself the standard of validity, has to be validated is no where explained), it must have a grounding in "metaphysical reality." (Does logic, we might wonder, have a grounding in non-metaphysical reality? And if not, what then is the difference between metaphysical reality and non-metaphysical reality? Or is the phrase "metaphysical reality" merely a pleonasm?) Now the confusions here run deep, but they are also indicative of Rand's lack of basic philosophical literacy. Reality does not follow the laws of logic. Causation is not a logical process, nor does the identification of things in reality (or the identification of their attributes) involve logic as set down by Aristotle (or anyone else), although logic may be used to discuss these existing things within the realm of human discourse. Logic is, at its most basic (as even Rand understood) A is A. But it is an error to confused logical identification with other forms of identification that depend on empirical observation (which is not a logical process!). The identification of an existing thing is A is or A exists, which is an assertion about matters of fact which must be discovered empirically (you cannot reason your way to them). The identification of an attribute is A is B. That is also a thoroughly and unrepentantly empirical process. Rand's error is to confuse A is A (i.e., logical identification ) with both A is (i.e., the identity of existents) and A is B (i.e., predication). They're not all the same and Rand's confusion does constitute, as Ghate is quick to deny, a category error.
Unfortunately, Ghate does not discuss any of the other trenchant criticisms of Rand included in Hook's review. Perhaps in a future post I'll quote excerpts from the piece. It's actually a superb review, well reasoned and superbly written.