Author: Ayn Rand
Publisher: Signet, 1984
While I’m a big fan of Ayn Rand’s works I am, by equal measure, aware of the fact that she can and does froth a little when she hits particular topics. While my own knowledge of philosophy is still very sketchy at best, I did find this slim volume to be a somewhat useful supplement to her other titles that I’ve read, though don’t feel as if this collection of essays covered any fresh ground.
She examines why we need philosophy (of course we do) and the realisation that this is an integral part of our existence if we are to live rational, moral lives. Most importantly she stands for taking pride in one’s own labours and not settling for anything less than the best.
She makes a big deal about freedom, and personal freedom to think and trade as one wishes without feeling ashamed of one’s strengths. Also, that one should deal with truths and that which is, instead of that which one imagines something *should* be.
Mostly, Rand encourages people to think for themselves without blindly following conventions, and to encourage the development and application to reason. She advocates intellectual honesty – in admitting what one knows and what one does not know, then working from there. She advocates sticking to one’s convictions and looking at living a life that has integrity on a basic level. And not, thankfully, to proselytise.
She is harshly critical of some of the philosophic and political efforts of her day, and it’s somewhat frightening to see how some of her observations are very much apt for this day and age.
I agree that Rand is not the be-all and end-all of philosophy, but she still makes some very valid points which are still useful. That being said… I still need to broaden my reading tastes to encompass other philosophers, so I’ll hold back from the Kant-bashing the way Rand does it for now!