Studies in Ayn Rands Normative Theory
Edited by Allan Gotthelf and James B. Lennox
These must be trying times for Leonard Peikoff. Not only is he faced with rumblings of mutiny from within the ranks of ARI for his foolish moral indictment of John McCaskey, but certain members of his ordained ministry seem to have forgotten the unwritten ground rules of Objectivist scholarship. The dust jacket for this just-published volume reads: "Metaethics, Egoism and Virtue is the first of a new series, developed in conjunction with The Ayn Rand Society [of the A.P.A.], to offer a fuller scholarly understanding of this highly original and influential thinker."
Apparently fuller scholarly understanding means that certain ARI-approved scholars (Darryl Wright, Tara Smith, Allan Gotthelf, Gregory Salmieri) think it is time for Objectivism to be taken seriously as a philosophical movement. (Even Harry Binswangers sparkling words of approval appear on the book cover. Something tells me he didnt get a review copy.) In other words, it is time for Objectivists to stop using moral denunciation and dictatorial intellectual authority as a basis for pretending that certain dissenting and/or unsanctioned voices do not exist.
The Ayn Rand Society of the American Philosophical Association has long been a force for injecting rational dissent and open discussion into the Objectivist movement since it was founded in 1987, but, to my knowledge, this is the first time its work has appeared in book form. Whether or not this will result in closer scrutiny from Peikoff and the orthodoxy at ARI remains to be seen.
Consider the list of heretofore tainted or unsavory (from Peikoffs warped orthodox perspective) and/or neglected characters, publications and organizations now suddenly acknowledged to exist: David Kelley, Douglas Rasmussen, Douglas Den Uyl, Roderick Long, Tibor Machan, Jack Wheeler, Lester Hunt, Nathaniel Branden (OMG!), The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, Reason Papers, IOS Journal. Various previously disdained books and other writings by these authors are also listed as references. Multiple publications of The Atlas Society are mentioned, although it is referred to as The Objectivist Center.
This is not a review of the book, since I have not had a chance to read it as yet. But I am encouraged by the fact that, from what I can tell at this point, the unofficial voices are all treated respectfully and seriously. (NOTE: The forthcoming book was previously mentioned here when it first went to the publishers in 2009. At that time, Robert Campbell expressed concern that Rasmussens papers were significantly dated. Hopefully this problem was corrected. Rasmussens referenced citations are dated from 2002 to 2007. )
Here is an important quote from the preface:
Neither the editors nor the editorial board necessarily endorse the content of work published in this series, and we may on occasion publish writings one or more of us think gets it all wrong, so long as these writings are respectful of Rand and her work and further the aims of the series.
That actually sounds as if it were written by the advocates of a philosophy of reason. Whats next? Yaron Brook interviewing Chris Sciabarra for ARIs IMPACT newsletter? I suppose its possible that the participants in this project could suffer the consequences of such recalcitrant behavior. We shall see. In case you were wondering, the book is not available from The Ayn Rand Bookstore.
Edited by Dennis Hardin, 07 November 2010 - 08:41 PM.