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Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology: Expanded Second Edition

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Today man's mind is under attack by all the leading schools of philosophy. We are told that we cannot trust our senses, that logic is arbitrary, that concepts have no basis in reality. Ayn Rand opposes that torrent of nihilism, and she provides the alternative in this eloquent presentation of the essential nature--and power--of man's conceptual faculty. She offers a startlingly original solution to the problem that brought about the collapse of modern philosophy: the problem of universals. This brilliantly ...
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Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology: Expanded Second Edition

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Overview


Today man's mind is under attack by all the leading schools of philosophy. We are told that we cannot trust our senses, that logic is arbitrary, that concepts have no basis in reality. Ayn Rand opposes that torrent of nihilism, and she provides the alternative in this eloquent presentation of the essential nature--and power--of man's conceptual faculty. She offers a startlingly original solution to the problem that brought about the collapse of modern philosophy: the problem of universals. This brilliantly argued, superbly written work, together with an essay by philosophy professor Leonard Peikoff, is vital reading for all those who seek to discover that human beings can and should live by the guidance of reason.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452010307
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/28/1990
  • Edition description: Expanded 2nd Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 445,333
  • Product dimensions: 5.62 (w) x 8.19 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand is one of the rare writers who not only drew in readers with her novels, but created a philosophical movement with them. Her seminal Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, cornerstones of her individualistic Objectivist world view, can be viewed as literature, self-empowerment texts, or both.

Biography

Ayn Rand was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on February 2, 1905. At age six she taught herself to read and two years later discovered her first fictional hero in a French magazine for children, thus capturing the heroic vision that sustained her throughout her life. At the age of nine she decided to make fiction writing her career. Thoroughly opposed to the mysticism and collectivism of Russian culture, she thought of herself as a European writer, especially after encountering authors such as Walter Scott and—in 1918—Victor Hugo, the writer she most admired.

During her high school years, she was eyewitness to both the Kerensky Revolution, which she supported, and—in 1917—the Bolshevik Revolution, which she denounced from the outset. In order to escape the fighting, her family went to the Crimea, where she finished high school. The final Communist victory brought the confiscation of her father's pharmacy and periods of near-starvation. When introduced to American history in her last year of high school, she immediately took America as her model of what a nation of free men could be.

When her family returned from the Crimea, she entered the University of Petrograd to study philosophy and history. Graduating in 1924, she experienced the disintegration of free inquiry and the takeover of the university by communist thugs. Amidst the increasingly gray life, her one great pleasure was Western films and plays. Long a movie fan, she entered the State Institute for Cinema Arts in 1924 to study screen writing.

In late 1925 she obtained permission to leave Soviet Russia for a visit to relatives in the United States. Although she told Soviet authorities that her visit would be short, she was determined never to return to Russia. She arrived in New York City in February 1926. She spent the next six months with her relatives in Chicago, obtained an extension to her visa, and then left for Hollywood to pursue a career as a screenwriter.

On Ayn Rand's second day in Hollywood, Cecil B. DeMille saw her standing at the gate of his studio, offered her a ride to the set of his movie The King of Kings, and gave her a job, first as an extra, then as a script reader. During the next week at the studio, she met an actor, Frank O'Connor, whom she married in 1929; they were married until his death fifty years later.

After struggling for several years at various non-writing jobs, including one in the wardrobe department at the RKO Corporation, she sold her first screenplay, Red Pawn to Universal Studios in 1932 and saw her first stage play, Night of January 16th, produced in Hollywood and then on Broadway. Her first novel, We the Living, was completed in 1933 but was rejected by publishers for years, until The Macmillan Company in the United States and Cassells and Company in England published the book in 1936. The most autobiographical of her novels—it was based on her years under Soviet tyranny—We the Living was not well-received by American intellectuals and reviewers. Ayn Rand was up against the pro-communism dominating the culture during "the Red Decade."

She began writing The Fountainhead in 1935. In the character of the architect Howard Roark, she presented for the first time the kind of hero whose depiction was the chief goal of her writing: the ideal man, man as "he could be and ought to be." The Fountainhead was rejected by twelve publishers but finally accepted by the Bobbs-Merrill Company. When published in 1943, it made history by becoming a best seller through word-of-mouth two years later, and gained for its author lasting recognition as a champion of individualism.

Ayn Rand returned to Hollywood in late 1943 to write the screenplay for The Fountainhead, but wartime restrictions delayed production until 1948. Working part time as a screenwriter for Hal Wallis Productions, she began her major novel, Atlas Shrugged, in 1946. In 1951 she moved back to New York City and devoted herself full time to the completion of Atlas Shrugged.

Published in 1957, Atlas Shrugged was her greatest achievement and last work of fiction. In this novel she dramatized her unique philosophy in an intellectual mystery story that integrated ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, politics, economics and sex. Although she considered herself primarily a fiction writer, she realized that in order to create heroic fictional characters, she had to identify the philosophic principles that make such individuals possible. She needed to formulate "a philosophy for living on earth."

Thereafter, Ayn Rand wrote and lectured on her philosophy—Objectivism. She published and edited her own periodicals from 1962 to 1976, her essays providing much of the material for nine books on Objectivism and its application to the culture. Ayn Rand died on March 6, 1982, in her New York City apartment.

Every book by Ayn Rand published in her lifetime is still in print, and hundreds of thousands of copies are sold each year, so far totaling more than twenty million. Several new volumes have been published posthumously. Her vision of man and her philosophy for living on earth have changed the lives of thousands of readers and launched a philosophic movement with a growing impact on American culture.

Author biography courtesy of The Ayn Rand Institute.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Alice Rosenbaum (real name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 2, 1905
    2. Place of Birth:
      St. Petersburg, Russia
    1. Date of Death:
      March 6, 1982
    2. Place of Death:
      New York, New York

Table of Contents


Edited by Harry Binswanger and Leonard Peikoff
Expanded Second Edition

Foreword to the First Edition by Ayn Rand
1. Cognition and Measurement
2. Concept-Formation
3. Abstraction from Abstractions
4. Concepts of Consciousness
5. Definitions
6. Axiomatic Concepts
7. The Cognitive Role of Concepts
8. Consciousness and Identity
Summary: The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy by Leonard Peikoff
Appendix - Excerpts from the Epistemology Workshops:
Foreword to the Second Edition by Leonard Peikoff
Preface by Harry Binswanger
Appendix Contents
Appendix
Index

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 19 of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2004

    What exactly is thinking?

    Some people tell you to think. Many more will you what to think. In this book, Ayn Rand discusses how to think (epistemology is the study of knowledge/thinking). This is an absolutely imperative question, because unlike the lungs or the heart, the mind does not function automatically. Fortunately, this book does a great job of explaining every aspect of thought from concept formation to the role of language to the need for abstractions. The book also describes three basic axioms (existence, identity, and consciousness) and shows how any attempt to disprove an axiom must in fact rely on that axiom, and thus is self-defeating. <br><br> My biggest question after reading this, was how was this not included in my (and everyone's) schooling? It's one thing for schools not to present Ayn Rand's epistemology, but no school (before college) I am aware of presents ANY epistemology. That more than any other statement shows the poor state of modern academia.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 1999

    Great Book

    This book is precisely what the title states. It is an 'introduction' and as such is the gateway to Rand's theory of knowledge by way of her theory of concepts. Human knowledge is conceptual knowledge and Rand validates the objectivity of concepts by explaining, from the ground up, the method by which they are formed in the mind. The points she makes which seem misguided and arbitrary are cleared up in subsequent re-readings as long as the reader keeps in mind that once she defines a term, she does not deviate from its meaning. For most of us who are generally unsure about specific definitions of terms and rely on our feelings to give meaning to the words we read, discipline is required. For those who start with an axe to grind based on their disagreements with Rand's political philosophy, deliberate mis-interpretations of terms generally abound (as can be seen in many on-line reviews.) One such example is the damning of Rand over her claim to have solved the problem of 'universals'. In this context, this problem refers to the issue of the relationship between concepts and their perceptual referents; the HISTORICAL problem of universals. It is unfortunately too common to find those who are willing to drop this necessary context and argue against the Objectivist claim based on various meanings of the term 'universal', few of which are relevant to the issue at hand. It is amusing to hear disagreements of the Objectivist theory of concepts which are addressed and cleared up in the appendix of this book. The appendix of the second edition of I to OE really is amazing. It is simply transcripts of round table discussions of professors who had read the original text presenting their questions and objections on finer points of epistemology. Rand was, apparently, at her intellectual pinnacle at this point, and any potentially hazy points are clarified beyond question. The criticism that this is not presented in as scholarly a way as an epistemological monograph should be has its merits. The preface clearly states that main work is a reprint of a series of articles in which Rand presented her theory of concept formation. I certainly would have preferred a more scholastic presentation and a deeper exploration of the background of certain ideas, but this was Rand's style. She did not 'write down' to her readers and her writing requires objective truth seekers to do their own research. I have, on multiple occasions, encountered the criticism that a reader was left wondering what Bertrand Russell was attempting to 'perpetrate' in his theory of numbers. After encountering this passage I went to a philosophy text and read a passage describing Russell's theory of numbers as an attempt to create a purely logical language which would allow one to understand numbers without relating them to their perceptual referents. Since Rand demonstrates that concepts are valid within the context of the totality of human consciousness, and that abstractions must be derived primarily from their perceptual referents (numbers, specifically, are covered) which form their fundamental context, the dismissal of Russell stands. For those who are familiar with Rand only from Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, this is a fascinating opportunity to understand the underlying support of a novelist's reasoning process, rarely made this explicit.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2002

    Wake up from your somnambulistic stupor

    This book is a great introduction the inner workings of concepts. It teaches you how to understand concretes and abstractions. Ayn Rand breaks down the fundamentals of every type of concept in a way that makes it easy to learn and use her ideas. How can you go through life without an understanding of how concepts are made and used? If you want to become the 'John Galt' of epistemology, the most crucial branch of philosophy, this book is a must read. Otherwise, it is your loss. Keep looking at life the same way you do now, and see how far you go. Also, see if anyone really cares. $

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Essential Reading!

    Epistemology is the branch of philosophy which discovers how we know what we know...it is the battlefield in which the rational, war with the irrational, where faith verses reason. Ayn Rand created, with this book, the first rational treatise ever on epistemology. If you want to read a book that not only will change your life, but also sweep out the cobwebs of modern societal confusion....then READ THIS BOOK!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2004

    very objective!

    Ayn her zombie Leonard lay out how the world is objectivly perceived. They do this with little or no explaniation of how they're right and the philosophers of the last 2,000 years are not only wrong, but evil! This book (and the philosophy objectivism) is made to prey on weak minded people with no clue about philosophy or life. Good book for people with a resistance to being brainwashed though.

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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