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Nicko0301

Ayn Rand: philosophically uneducated?

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There are conventionally two criticisms which detractors hurl against Ayn Rand: that she misrepresented the philosphies that she was critquing, or that she simply did not even read philosophy in depth--or at all. (I have heard it said, for instance, that all of Rand's understanding of Kant was derived from tangential references made to Kant by Nietzsche.)

I have a difficult time believing these allegations. As for the first accusation, I suspect that Ayn Rand simply took each philosophy (altruism, Pragmatism, Logical Positivism, etc.) and, by explaining it in a very accessible, unpretentious manner, demonstrated how truly absurd it was/is. Thus modern philosopers abhor her: because she cut out their equivocations and convolution and accurately presented the actual philosophy, with all of its implications. And the accusation that she did not actually read philosophy seems untrue.

If anyone out there has any comments or insights, feel free to share.

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One of the consequences of free speech and volition is that prople can say all sorts of crazy things. The claim that Rand never read Kant is such a ridiculous claim that it tells you more about the intellectual quality of people who make of even consider credible such a claim. To quote Pauli, that claim isn't even wrong.

The claim that Rand misrepresented, or misunderstood, other philosophers, wouldn't have much significance, since that's an easily available accusation that can be leveled against anyone. You have, on the one hand, what a given philosopher actually said, and on the other hand, what they "really meant". Usually, philosophers do not directly say what they really mean, so a "true understanding" requires partially setting aside what the philosopher actually said, and using their actual words as partial evidence of what their true meaning is. You also have to bring to bear "insight" or some other non-rational method to the table in order to get at the true meaning of a non-literal philosopher.

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I find it interesting that Rand's most vocal critics are usually apparent experts in every tiny detail of Rand's personal life, but they hardly mention the actual substance of her ideas. You get the impression those types have picked up a copy of the Enquirer while standing in line at the grocery checkout to inform their opinion of Rand instead of actually reading and discussing what she wrote.

I understand that she was educated in philosophy in Russia, but I really don't know the details.

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Here you go:

What Ayn Rand Read

The books listed below are ones that Ayn Rand is either known to have read or may have read, based on her published reviews, annotations she made in the books, comments or references made in her articles, letters and journals, and materials auctioned from her estate. (For the plays, it is possible that she saw them performed instead of reading them.)

http://www.noblesoul.com/orc/misc/read.html

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