The New Clarion

The New Clarion header image 2

Objectivist Books

January 2nd, 2009 by Chuck · 6 Comments · Culture

It is remarkable, and encouraging, how many books about Objectivist philosophy are being published these days.  Not to mention books by Objectivists, that are not about Objectivism, such as C. Bradley Thompson’s biography of John Adams.  When I first discovered Ayn Rand, in the early 1980’s, the only Objectivist writer other than Ayn Rand herself was Leonard Peikoff, who had written one book, The Ominous Parallels.  Objectivist publications have come a long way, since then. 

In looking over the lectures to be given at the Objectivist Summer Conference 2009, I notice two of the lectures by Tara Smith are based on chapters from Essays on Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.”  Which does not seem to have been published yet, but looks outstanding.  While looking for that title on Amazon, two of the titles (among others) that popped up as suggestions were Andrew Bernstein’s Objectivism in One Lesson (available now), and his Ayn Rand for Beginners (available in July). 

An odd thing struck me about the “Product Description” of Ayn Rand for Beginners.  It said:

 Ayn Rand For Beginners sheds a new light on Ms. Rand’s otherwise seemingly impenetrable words and philosophy.

If there was ever a philosopher whose writings are crystal clear, it is Ayn Rand.  To call her writing “seemingly impenetrable” is just bizarre.  Her writings might be described as “shocking” to a culture that views selfishness as immoral, but “seemingly impenetrable” just doesn’t make any sense.  That’s a description for philosophers like Immanuel Kant, not Ayn Rand.

In any case, there is a bonanza of Objectivist publications hitting the market these days, and that is all to the good.

6 Comments so far ↓

  • Myrhaf

    Into the 1990’s I easily read everything Objectivists wrote or listened to lectures recorded. Now it’s getting to the point that I have to pick and choose according to priorities.

    I loved the early Objectivist writing because it always combined reason and passion, or fact and value. It was never dry, technical philosophy for specialists. I could not get enough of that stuff. The first book to disappoint me was David Kelley’s The Art of Reasoning, which was restrained, dry and boring. Binswanger’s book on teleology also bored me. Since then there have been more Objectivist books on technical or scholarly subjects that have been less than scintillating. Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff always managed to put drama and life in their non-fiction.

  • Chuck

    I think some of the technical books are written for a different audience, namely the academic audience, to advance Objectivism’s acceptance in academia.

    But the books of essays about Ayn Rand’s novels, for instance, are very readable and interesting. So was Thompson’s bio of John Adams.

    What I would really like to see is a comprehensive history of the United States by an Objectivist. One that would *not* identify some of the greatest benefactors of man as robber barons, dwell on the love affairs of Thomas Jefferson, or blame capitalism for the disasters of government interference in the economy.

  • Burgess Laughlin

    Two little books deserve mention:

    1. Jeff Britting, Ayn Rand. This short biography is half illustrations (including a fascinating photo of her for her 1929 “green card”), yet the text manages to convey a lot of information to the slow, careful reader (a rarity in our world of epidemic internetitis).

    2. Mary Ann and Charles Sures, Facets of Ayn Rand. This brief book too also deserves a slow reading. It is understated. It includes wisdom I have not seen elsewhere–e.g., Ayn Rand’s distinction between a life of happiness and a life of satisfaction. One of my favorite anecdotes about Ayn Rand appears in FAR: At a stamp convention, a stamp dealer treated Ayn Rand rudely. Her response was a model for rational individuals.

  • Bill Brown

    Facets of Ayn Rand is also available online for free.

  • â—„Daveâ–º

    Facets of Ayn Rand is also available online for free.

    Thanks Bill; I shall read it (slowly, Burgess).

    I just found you folks from a trackback on the Secular Right blog. I like what I see and have already subscribed to the RSS. Objectively an objectivist myself, I have read all of Rand’s books at least twice since I discovered her (about 10 years earlier than you, Chuck), and prize my copy of Peikoff’s “Objectivism:…”

    If welcome, I shall return… â—„Daveâ–º

  • C. August

    Thanks for the tip about that, Burgess, and Bill for reminding me of the online version of Facets of Ayn Rand.

    I found the anecdote Burgess mentioned, and he’s right in his evaluation.

    It’s on this page, about 3/4 of the way down.