Monday, April 08, 2024

Objectivist Round-up, April 2024

1. Another month and another Kindle book about Rand.  This time it's Individual and Society: Navigate Ayn Rand's Individualism and John Dewey's Communal Insights by one Adrian Locke  It's brief and I've only skimmed it, but the book mentions Dewey only twice in passing without any citations to his works (likewise no citations to Rand's work) so I'm not sure what the point is.

2. Yale University just announced an addition to its Jewish Lives series, Ayn Rand: Writing a Gospel of Success by Alexandra Popoff  It will be the first English biography of Rand since the 2009 biographies by Anne Heller and Jennifer Burns.* The book, which is due out in August, will be 264 pages long.  The blurb says the book is "exhaustively researched" but it's shorter than three full-length biographies of Rand (Burns, Heller and Barbara Branden).

3.  Speaking of biographies of Ayn Rand, Yaron Brook said recently the long-awaited authorized biography of Rand by Shoshana Milgram Knapp has taken longer than he "would have liked or expected."  One can only speculate on the reason for the delay.

4.  The Ayn Rand Institute's Ayn Rand University is up and running.  If you don't want to enroll you can audit Harry Binswanger's Objectivist Logic for a mere $1,580.

*If I recall correctly, there were biographies in French and Russian.

Monday, March 04, 2024

Objectivist Roundup, March 2024

1.  ARI scholar Jason Rheins said that he hopes Donald Trump has a stroke and calls conservative Republicans Nazis.  The ARI party line is that Trump is bad and Republicans a mixed bag, so this is rather extreme.

2.  ARI scholar Mike Mazza wrote an interesting article Why can't Professional Philosophers Get Rand Rights?  Mazza is correct that many philosophers don't understand particularly well, probably in large part that they disagree with most of her ideas.  (Rand had a hard time understanding people she disagreed with as well.)  On the other hand. he writes as if disagreeing with Rand equals misunderstanding her.  His solution is to read more ARI affiliated authors.

4.  One Vladimir Lincoln Armstrong published the Kindle book, Debunking Ayn Rand: The Truth About Money Creation Or Why Work Doesn't Create Money.  It's a small book which claims that Rand believed workers create money and  gives reasons why this isn't so (such as The Federal Reserve and fiat money).  He doesn't document his claim about Rand's view of money and I don't think even her staunchest supporters think she had much to say about monetary theory.  There is no mention of Objectivist influenced economists who have written about money such as George Reisman and Richard Salsman.

Sunday, February 04, 2024

Objectivist Roundup, February 2024

1.  There is a new Kindle book, The Rational Edge: Ayn Rand on Nature and Essence by one Andy Randell.  It's a brief overview of Objectivism with some objections and possible responses.  Unless you are completely new to Objectivism or have Kindle Unlimited, I can't recommend it.

2.  Ben Bayer of the Ayn Rand Institute interviewed Harry Binswanger on his years with Ayn Rand.  It's somewhat defensive (for example Rand was not a difficult editor) but it does contain interesting anecdotes and observations.   A few of Binswanger's observations:
 i.  Rand was always intense, even when reheating the Borscht her cook made.

 ii.  Binswanger concedes that Rand occasionally got unnecessarily angry at interlocutors because she would judge their motives and premises prematurely.

  iii.  Rand didn't see all the implications of some of her ideas until the 1970s.  That was a new one to me.

  iv.  Rand was a great psychologist, including better than many "respected historical psychologists."  James Valliant made a similar claim recently.

   v.  Binswanger still hates the Brandens ("villains").  Fair enough from his perspective, but he actually claims Rand's excommunication letter in 1968 (To Whom It May Concern) was measured and even Olympian.  It's hard to imagine calling Nathaniel a thief without evidence as being measured.  As Nathaniel said in his memoirs, Rand's attack was so "over the top" that people wondered if he was an alcoholic or a child molester.

   vi.  Maybe not a major point, but Binswanger misrepresents Barbara's Branden's biography (The Passion of Ayn Rand) on Rand's final meeting and phone call with Rand.  As Binswanger says, Rand and Barbara met in Rand's New York apartment in 1981.  According to Barbara, after the meeting, she sent Rand a letter stating that she was writing Rand's biography.  When Rand didn't respond, Barbara called her.  Rand refused to talk.  Barbara says she was certain that this was due to Rand's disapproval of the prospective biography.  Binswanger doesn't mention the letter and says Barbara first mentioned the idea of the biography in the phone call and asked for Rand's assistance.  He says  Barbara claims that this final conversation was of a "I'm sorry that things didn't work out" variety.  This was manifestly not what Branden wrote.  (The existence of the post-meeting letter mentioning a biography is confirmed by Cynthia Peikoff in 100 Voices).  Perhaps Binswanger should have re-read the relevant page in Branden's biography before accusing her of lying.


Monday, January 01, 2024

Objectivist Roundup, January 2024

1.   William O’Neill’s 1971 book With Charity Toward None: An Analysis of the Philosophy of Ayn Rand was recently re-published.  It was probably the first critique of Rand’s philosophy published.  It’s been years since I read it, but my recollection was that it was hit-or-miss.

[O'Neill's book was the first philosophical critique from an academically trained savant. Albert Ellis had a few years earlier written a book length critique of Objectivism (i.e., Is Objectivism a Religion?) focusing on psychology, politics and economics.]

2.  Carl Barney, the multi-millionaire ex-donor to the Ayn Rand Institute, and head of the Prometheus Foundation, recently posted a curious blog entry, Who Represents Objectivism.  He writes:

“There have been many alleged spokespersons for Objectivism—Mike Berliner, Harry Binswanger, John Ridpath, Peter Schwartz, Yaron Brook—and we’re now told of a “Chief Philosophy Officer,” Onkar Ghate. There’s something we should not forget.”

I’m wondering if there is a back story here.  With the occasional exception of Binswanger, I’m not sure if any of these have ever claimed to be a spokesperson for Objectivism.  Barney then goes on to sing the praises of Leonard Peikoff, who claims to quite literally speak in the name of Ayn Rand.  

This is something I didn’t know:

“Much of Leonard’s clarity and conviction undoubtedly was influenced by his 30-year close relationship with Ms. Rand—thousands of hours of discussion (from which he took careful notes), and the Q&As, and the collaboration undoubtedly enabled him to speak with such clarity and conviction.”

Can the publication of Leonard Peikoff’s Journals and Marginalia be far off?

3.  Long-time Objectivist author Andy Bernstein has a new Kindle book on racism called American Racism: Its Decline, Its Baleful Influence, and Our Looming Race War.

4.   Speaking of Bernstein, Yaron Brook wasn’t pleased to be asked why he isn’t teaching at Ayn Rand University.  Brook claimed not to know.  I certainly don’t know but considering that he writes for Craig Biddle’s The Objective Standard I doubt he will be teaching at ARU any time soon.

5.   Speaking of Brook, he is scheduled to appear on January 12, 2024 in Centennial, Colorado.  For a mere $400 you can sit next to him at the post-speech dinner.