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Human

Which books should I read?

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Hello Everyone,

I'm a new member to the forum.  As an interested student of Objectivism, I'm wondering if anyone can advise me on a kind of "curricula" reading list of Ayn Rand's books for beginners.  I am almost finished with "Atlas Shrugged" and was hoping for some direction on the next book to help me in my self-education.   Should I immediately delve into her non-fiction works on epistemology and ethics? If I'm not mistaken, ARI also has online lectures/courses.

Just to be clear, I am not a philosopher.

Any input from the experts, here, would be most appreciated.

Cheers.

 

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Hello Human, and welcome to the forum.

Have you read The Fountainhead or any of her other fiction?
Or what it is about Atlas Shrugged and your current understanding of Objectivism that you're hoping to find insight on?

Personally I started with Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, but most do not. The lectures, too, can be found according to interests, such as ethics, epistemology, applying an objective approach to religion, economics, political activism, etc.

One of the books I read, not Objectivism related, but certainly in the context of pointing out guffaws made over time, was The Experts Speak: The Definitive Compendium of Authoritative Misinformation, by Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky.

Edited by dream_weaver

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1 hour ago, dream_weaver said:

Or what it is about Atlas Shrugged and your current understanding of Objectivism that you're hoping to find insight on?

For example, if you're coming to this from a religious background, in other words you're grappling with the challenge to belief in god, try Atheism: The Case Against God by George H. Smith.  It's written from an Objectivist perspective, and is a great book. 

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I'd suggest, Human, after you finish Atlas Shrugged, you read either Objectivism in One Lesson by Andrew Bernstein or Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Peikoff. Both of those use citations to the other writings of Rand and her associates, and you can then follow up with those references as your further interest may go this way or that.

Edited by Boydstun

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My advice is always to read the novels first, then the anthologies - The Virtue of Selfishness, Capitalism the Unknown Ideal and The Romantic Manifesto - depending on what topics interest you. Then the secondary sources the others have mentioned.

One reason to start with the novels is that the non-fiction writings (by Rand and others) refer back to them constantly, revealing their storylines in the process. You won't understand the essays if you haven't read the novels, and you won't enjoy the novels if you already know how they turn out. A reason to read Rand before you move on to Peikoff, Bernstein, etc. is that the secondary literature constantly refers back to Rand's essays.

For the New Intellectual, The Early Ayn Rand, the letters and the journals are optional.

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8 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Have you read The Fountainhead or any of her other fiction?
Or what it is about Atlas Shrugged and your current understanding of Objectivism that you're hoping to find insight on?

Basically, it is ethics that got me interested in Objectivism.  As a classical liberal and secularist, the moral heroes of "Atlas Shrugged" fit very neatly with my individualistic views.  And considering the cultural volatility of our times, I have come to appreciate the power and necessity of objective ethics.  Thus, and not to sound too layman, Objectivism is the closest approximation I can think of that philosophically appeals to me.

However, I recognize that Ayn Rand's ethics cannot be divorced from her epistemology and metaphysics (if I'm not mistaken).  For me personally, there are several corresponding questions (e.g. regarding the matter of certainty of knowledge, limitations of human knowledge, concepts, determinism, free-will, etc.) that are not quite clear.  This is mostly the insight I am seeking.

Ultimately, I hope to gain a more solid grounding of the fundamentals of Objectivism and see if that is a bridge I can cross from where I currently stand philosophically.

I hope that makes sense.

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4 hours ago, Boydstun said:

I'd suggest, Human, after you finish Atlas Shrugged, you read either Objectivism in One Lesson by Andrew Bernstein or Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Peikoff. Both of those use citations to the other writings of Rand and her associates, and you can then follow up with those references as your further interest may go this way or that.

 

2 hours ago, Reidy said:

My advice is always to read the novels first, then the anthologies - The Virtue of Selfishness, Capitalism the Unknown Ideal and The Romantic Manifesto - depending on what topics interest you. Then the secondary sources the others have mentioned.

One reason to start with the novels is that the non-fiction writings (by Rand and others) refer back to them constantly, revealing their storylines in the process. You won't understand the essays if you haven't read the novels, and you won't enjoy the novels if you already know how they turn out. A reason to read Rand before you move on to Peikoff, Bernstein, etc. is that the secondary literature constantly refers back to Rand's essays.

For the New Intellectual, The Early Ayn Rand, the letters and the journals are optional.

Thanks to the both of you for this very insightful and informative overview.

I also watch youtube lectures, videos and podcasts.  In fact, it was the Yaron Brook show that got me interested in and to think more about Objectivism.  However, I feel there is always some obvious, self-evident, underlying premise I'm missing when I listen to the experts speak on the subject.  Hence, the need to start as a beginner.

Edited by Human

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54 minutes ago, Human said:

I hope that makes sense.

It does, and based on what you said, I've no compunction about suggesting the essay "The Objectivist Ethics" from The Virtue of Selfishness and comparing it to Galt's Speech, starting with paragraph 20 "Man's mind is his basic . . ." through paragraph 35 "Happiness is the successful state of life . . ."

That being said, your acquaintance with the branches of philosophy, while not a philosopher, suggests a little more than a passing familiarity with the science.

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Just dive into whatever seems most interesting next.

Basically, it depends on your interests. What about Atlas Shrugged is interesting to you? You seem most interested in questions of epistemology, but on the other hand, you sound driven by individualism. Read the book jacket of the stuff by Rand to decide what you would get the most out of. Her novels are much more rich and interesting than her non fiction so those might be a better bet.

Edited by Eiuol

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If Ethics brought you to Objectivism, the "Virtue of Selfishness" (VoS) would seem like a good place to go next.

However, I would echo Reidy and suggest you read fiction first, at least The Fountainhead. My sense is that reading Fountainhead before Virtue of Selfishness allows the book to function a bit more like fiction is supposed to, whereas reading VoS right before The Fountainhead can remove some of the mystery and discovery that a reader feels as the plot unfolds.

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On 8/10/2019 at 4:51 PM, Eiuol said:

Just dive into whatever seems most interesting next.

This is also my answer. I'd be surprised if there were one specific book you ought to read next.

Edit: For reference, the first book I read about Objectivism was OPAR, which is supposedly an awful place to start learning the philosophy. So the order you read in is really not a big deal.

Edited by William O

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