Philosophy: Who Needs It

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Overview

This collection of essays was the last work planned by Ayn Rand before her death in 1982. In it, she summarizes her view of philosophy and deals with a broad spectrum of topics. According to Ayn Rand, the choice we make is not whether to have a philosophy, but which one to have: rational, conscious, and therefore practical; or contradictory, unidentified, and ultimately lethal. Written with all the clarity and eloquence that have placed Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy in the mainstream of American thought, ...

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Overview

This collection of essays was the last work planned by Ayn Rand before her death in 1982. In it, she summarizes her view of philosophy and deals with a broad spectrum of topics. According to Ayn Rand, the choice we make is not whether to have a philosophy, but which one to have: rational, conscious, and therefore practical; or contradictory, unidentified, and ultimately lethal. Written with all the clarity and eloquence that have placed Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy in the mainstream of American thought, these essays range over such basic issues as education, morality, censorship, and inflation to prove that philosophy is the fundamental force in all our lives.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451138934
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/28/1984
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 378,897
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 6.88 (h) x 0.65 (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

Philosophy Introduction
1. Philosophy: Who Needs It
2. Philosophical Detection
3. The Metaphysical Versus the Man-Made
4. The Missing Link
5. Selfishness Without a Self
6. An Open Letter to Boris Spassky
7. Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World
8. From the Horse's Mouth
9. Kant Versus Sullivan
10. Causality Versus Duty
11. An Untitled Letter
12. Egalitarianism and Inflation
13. The Stimulus and the Response
14. The Establishing of an Establishment
15. Censorship: Local and Express
16. Fairness Doctrine for Education
17. What Can One Do?
18. Don't Let It Go
Index

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 16 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2008

    be true to yourself

    a good introduction to rand style philosophy.it mught make more sense to read this before her other writings.here,rand shows herself to be a bitter enemy of totalitarianism,russia,nazi germany,the philosopher kant, and other freedom obstacles.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2004

    More Gems From Ayn Rand

    I love the first essay where she is talking to the cadets at West Point, and uses the example of the astronaut lost in space needing a philosophy to survive in an unknown world. A very sharp metaphor for life in society, especially if you are young and struggling for answers in a bewildering and confusing world. Just as one needs tools to survive in the wilderness, one needs tools to survive in life, and Ayn Rand provides a very strong foundation for this task as a champion of reason, reality, and individualism. Yes, she was human and her personal life as well as the emerging Objectivist movement was far from perfect, but what great person is without flaws and shortcomings? On the other hand, and in contrast to the flaws, Ayn Rand gave so much, and contributed so much to the concepts of the mind, the objective world, the individual as the owner of his or her life, and of the exchange of ideas and products in the marketplace of the world. This is a great book for those already familiar with Ayn Rand and Objectivism, a book that will give you an insight into the eternal struggle of individual life versus collective duties and suffering.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2013

    Ehd

    Shz

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2007

    The broad view, and the meta-broad view

    Although there's a philosophy section in another anthology called THE VOICE OF REASON, this volume is the only one of Rand's devoted entirely to that subject. It's my recollection that all the others except VOR stuck to particular single subjects with philosophical import 'ethics, knowledge, economics, politics, art, etc.', but this book's not just a survey or a broad view. It's meta-philosophical 'or about philosophy' in that its collected content supports contentions within the first few articles regarding the subject's importance. Rand thought that philosophy directly affected life choices and outcomes, as opposed to the more popular view that the subject is only of narrow technical concern or not relevant to everyday life at all. She also maintained that deny it as they might, people use philosophical suppositions in the act of supporting or attacking any position. The bulk of the articles collected examine specific instances of ideas affecting action. A chess tournament in 1974 provides an opportunity to suggest how Boris Spassky may have reacted had his government 'the USSR of the time' changed the rules of chess as it determined the rules of life. Censorship cases are examined to show how 'do-gooder' efforts against pornographers could affect the ability of everyone else to express anything else. And she describes the contrast of duty VS free will with an apparently 19th-century saying: 'In answer to a man telling her that she's got to do something or other, a wise old Negro woman said, Mister, there's nothing I've got to do except die.' In my experience, serious philosophers are rarely folksy, and Rand's turn of phrase here would be as close as I've ever seen one get.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2003

    Amazing Book

    As for the last few reviews, you should have read the book more clearly. Just because he was not sure whether or not she was a communist (which of course you are right she definately was not) does not make him a moron. To be ignorant of facts is not to be stupid. It was 'an error of knowledge' as Ms. Rand would say, and it can be forgiven. She has been called heartless, yet she is one of the few writers I ever read that had a heart. I recommend every book she ever wrote, although some of it is very difficult. It will do nothing more than change your life, but it is up to YOU to change it...if necessary.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2002

    ????????????

    Only a moron who knows nothing of Ayn Rand or who obviously never read this book would call her a communist. Also this book is fantastic, check it out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2001

    A Basic Grounding in Reality

    Ayn Rand is an author, not a communist you ignorant fools. One, she is the only capitalist person I honestly think lived during the 1950's. Second, the reviews before this lack both in actual depth and vocabulary. In short, its an epitome that humans could be, in short, idiotic by choice.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2000

    A refreshing reality check!

    Her systematic objectiveness is a very present undercurrent that by nature opposes the present day myths we so fearfully embrace. Her full scale assault upon altruistic futility blasts the senses and forces one to ask the most fearful of questions: WHY?

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