Welcome to Objectivism Online Forum

Welcome to Objectivism Online, a forum for discussing the philosophy of Ayn Rand. For full access, register via Facebook or email.

Phylo

ADVICE FOR LEARNING AYN RANDS IDEAS?

Rate this topic

15 posts in this topic

Does anybody offer any footnotes in regards to how to understand Ayn Rand's Ideas better, especially for a beginner as myself? I've read most of her fiction books now im into her non-fiction. Where does one begin to try to apply such a vast amount of data especially if one is new to abstraction mentally?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

See if you find something at ARI campus that you like, to start you off (awesome site):
https://campus.aynrand.org/campus-courses

For reading I'd say start by reading these essays by Rand (lots of choices here but these are good):
"Philosophy: who needs it": https://campus.aynrand.org/works/1974/03/01/philosophy-who-needs-it/page1
"Faith and force: the destroyers of the modern world": https://campus.aynrand.org/works/1961/01/01/faith-and-force-the-destroyers-of-the-modern-world
"The Objectivist Ethics": https://campus.aynrand.org/works/1961/01/01/the-objectivist-ethics/page1
"Causality versus duty": https://campus.aynrand.org/works/1970/01/01/causality-versus-duty
"The 'Conflicts' of Men's Interests": https://campus.aynrand.org/works/1966/01/01/the-conflicts-of-mens-interests

I also highly suggest reading these books (after Rand's essays leave you wanting more elaboration and proof):
(OPAR was already suggested)
How We Know, by Harry Binswanger: http://www.how-we-know.com/
Viable Values, by Tara Smith: http://a.co/cErz41u
Moral Rights and Political Freedom, also Tara Smith: http://a.co/8bMPTJQ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I usually recommend the book Philosophy: Who Needs It? first, and then The Virtue of Selfishness and The Romantic Manifesto. There's also Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, if that's more your area of interest.

I very strongly recommend you read Rand herself, and not some third-party. That's the best way to get value out of her philosophy.

Edited by epistemologue
Eiuol likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/17/2017 at 10:49 PM, Phylo said:

Where does one begin to try to apply such a vast amount of data especially if one is new to abstraction mentally?

I recommend a study in logic.  Peikoff has a good one: Introduction to Logic

Lionel Ruby's Logic: An Introduction is a good textbook to use with the course.

Also, Rand goes over abstraction in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology.

Edited by KorbenDallas
Phylo likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Two basic precursors to learning are your own personal interests (for picking what to learn about) and your approach to new ideas. For maximum brain flow, go with what interests you most. For maximum brain saturation, question everything honestly until the answer becomes part of you (and even then, question from time to time).

My biggest personal setbacks to learning were/are rationalism and becoming emotionally charged about potential errors in my thinking or conclusions.

DonAthos likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/17/2017 at 10:49 PM, Phylo said:

I've read most of her fiction books now im into her non-fiction. 

What non-fiction ones have you read?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would stay away from OPAR if what you want to study is Rand's Objectivism rather than Peikoff's. The best you can get from Rand's Objectivism is ITOE and Galt's speech.

My problem with Peikoff is that he's a closeted rationalist (and a really bad one to boot), and I don't make that accusation lightly.

Edited by SpookyKitty

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rand's stuff is the best, but if you really want to dive deeper, Tara Smith is my favorite. Peikoff is good as far as talking about epistemology and talking about how Objectivism does philosophy, but I don't like him much for the rest. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The thing about Ayn Rand is that she's a bloody genius. And the people who try to relay her ideas, even when they are intelligent themselves, and sympathetic to her ends, do not tend to reach Rand's level, in my opinion. (I put myself squarely in this camp.)

Are there important subtleties lost in Rand's writing, when someone of "lesser skill" (or more shallow understanding) attempts to communicate them? While I have no specific example to point to, such is always my fear. So with Rand, I do counsel "getting it from the horse's mouth." (And as a bonus, Rand is an incredible non-fiction writer.)

As to specific recommendations, I can say that I regard The Virtue of Selfishness and ITOE as being Rand's most central and crucial non-fiction works, although ITOE is not where I would first direct someone "new to abstraction." It is possible, if you're really a "beginner," that the best place to start is not with Rand's ideas at all. Someone else recommended studying logic first, which is a good idea. Applied logic, such as Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World or Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson may be fun and informative ways to exercise the muscles you'll need to truly tackle Rand.

Above all, what I recommend is: go slowly. Think things through, one step at a time. Take nothing for granted and nothing on authority, and chew, chew, chew.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, Thank you so much for the loads of advice and direction. I like the idea of learning logic

18 hours ago, softwareNerd said:

What non-fiction ones have you read?

I have read Atlas Shrugged, The Fountain Head and Anthem. Anthem is my favorite. I tried reading "We the Living" but i found it to sad and eventually stopped reading it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

.

Welcome to OBJECTIVISM ONLINE, Phylo!

In ATLAS SHRUGGED, did you read through all of Galt's radio speech? Was that pretty much all of interest to you? Do you have areas within the topics that come up in Rand's fiction that are especially of interest to you?

A lot of Rand's readers have found her ideas helpful in making a life and finding happiness. Some of us additionally just really love some areas of philosophy, and pursue them with great passion and enjoyment. I like the big picture of philosophy for one thing, and I like making my own big picture ever more full and precise. I think the presentation of Rand's philosophy in a systematic way by Leonard Peikoff in his OBJECTIVISM: THE PHILOSOPHY OF AYN RAND is excellent. It is not more technical or difficult than the presentation in Galt's Speech. It does round out what was in the Speech with further issues that Rand and associates refined in the years from ATLAS to the end of her life. That Peikoff book, known by the acronym OPAR, was based very much on Peikoff's 1976 lectures laying out Rand's philosophy, and Rand was present at those lectures, and anyway knew what was to be in them, and she proclaimed them to be an accurate representation of her philosophy. One nice thing about his book is that he has citations to Rand's own writings pretty much all along the way.

I have some formal training in physics and in mathematics and in philosophy. I study many sorts and areas of philosophy from ancient to now. I advise, for serious study of the major figures in philosophy, not only study of elementary logic, as Dallas recommended, but the study of Euclid's geometry. But it depends on your interests and life situation whether you would want to study philosophers much besides Rand. One does understand hers better in some ways (endless additional ways, really) by studying others' and comparing to hers. You can see some of my own writings resulting from such studies in my 'Books to Mind' sector at this site and at the 'Stephen Boydstun Corner' over here (I am the author who accidentally ended up with the name Guyau there): http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/index.php?/forum/126-stephen-boydstun-corner/ 

.

Edited by Boydstun
KorbenDallas likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say, you should read most if not all of Rand's nonfiction.  This will give you example after example of abstract principles being applied to real-world situations, which will help give you the ability to apply them to your own life.  From there I would go on to Leonard Peikoff's OPAR in order to systematize all that you have learned from Rand's nonfiction.  When you are not up for reading you can check out some free lectures at the ARI Campus online, buy lectures from their e-store, or check out their videos on YouTube.  And don't forget to go back and reread her fiction every now and then.

Happy reading!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

My problem with Peikoff is that he's a closeted rationalist (and a really bad one to boot), and I don't make that accusation lightly.

1

I have found some Objectivists' writing to have rationalized elements and even some fully rationalized articles,  but I would not call those Objectivists rationalists. And I have not found that to be the case at all in regards to Peikoff.  Could you please explain (maybe in a new topic)?  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

.

Also of possible interest for Phylo or others would be Objectivism in One Lesson – An Introduction to the Philosophy of Ayn Rand (Andrew Bernstein, 2008).

From the Preface:

“This book . . . assumes that the reader has some familiarity with Ayn Rand’s novels—especially Anthem, The Fountainhead, and/or Atlas Shrugged—and now seeks to further explore Ayn Rand’s distinctive ideas.”

“Ayn Rand wrote many non-fiction books and essays, as well, but no comprehensive theoretical presentation of her philosophy. The definitive treatment of her thought is Leonard Peikoff’s Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (OPAR). . . . , an in-depth work . . . [although] never intended as an introduction to Objectivism. Consequently, a bridge is needed, an introductory text for the millions of readers who love Ayn Rand’s novels and who want to take the next step in understanding her philosophy . . . . / Objectivism in One Lesson is that text.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.