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Michael Stuart Kelly

Where Ayn Rand Learned a Lot of Philosophy

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Where Ayn Rand Learned a Lot of Philosophy

I just came across a very interesting tidbit.

According to Leonard Peikoff in a podcast, Ayn Rand got a lot of her notions of philosophy from a text he used when he was in college. He claimed she read the thing cover to cover.

The podcast:

Is It Necessary To Read Kant In Order To Denounce Him?

btw - He says the requirement is different (I think he means something like common sense requirement). He says reading Rand is a breeze and reading Kant is excruciating, so if you get a fair overview of Kant's thinking, that works. He claims when he was younger, he followed Kant's reasoning from sentence-by-sentence commentary by Peyton, however, I don't know who that particular Peyton is.

The passage from the podcast where he talked about the book Rand read:

Ayn Rand got her history of philosophy originally, what she didn't get in Russia, from a book called A History of Philosophy by B. A. G Fuller. That was the book that I used (it was used in my college), not because of her. It was a common text in those days. And she read it from cover to cover. It's a thick book and covers everything. A very fair objective presentation.


If you are interested, you can still get this book, but it looks like it's out of print:

A History of Philosophy by B. A. G Fuller.

For those who criticize Rand's knowledge of philosophy and the history of philosophy, I wonder what ideas she got from this book.

Michael

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SB – 5/18/14


In July 1945, Rand remarked in a letter to Isabel Patterson: “I am reading a long, detailed history of philosophy. I’m reading Aristotle in person and a lot of other things. . . . It’s actually painful for me to read Plato . . . . But I must do it.” The editor of Letters of Ayn Rand identifies that history of philosophy as the one by B. A. G. Fuller. I have obtained this text History of Philosophy – Ancient, Medieval, and Modern in its second edition, which was issued in 1945.

. . .

Fuller's book was not one that Rand had simply checked from the public library and possessed only briefly. This book was in her own personal library. Nevertheless, it is questionable how much she returned to it after the 1945 reading, for further guidance in the history of philosophy. I say that because Fuller's presentation of Kant is extensive and excellent, and Rand's movement towards conception of Kant as an irrationalist, by the early '50's, and, by 1960 if not sooner, conceiving Kant's views as the root of irrationalism in subsequent philosophy is nowise a conception of Kant (a lopsided one concerning his content and his lines of influence) that she could get from Fuller.

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She may also have studied Windelband's history, ca.1900, which Peikoff reviewed for The Objectivist Newsletter. I expect that she also studied H.W.B. Joseph's Introduction to Logic and that this is where she got the erroneous idea that Aristotle said "law of identity" and "A is A." Joseph does not actually say this, but, not being a historian, he doesn't always distinguish between Aristotle (who didn't say this) and the Aristotelian tradition (which did).

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.

Also, by 1945 Rand was reading Étienne Gilson’s 1937 The Unity of Philosophical Experience,*

as shown in Robert Mayhew’s Ayn Rand’s Marginalia.

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I was hoping you guys would show up and supplement this.

Any more brains out there want to join in?

Since this is a contention point with Rand (with both friends and enemies), we might as well have a specific place for intelligent discussion of it and references.

Question for Stephen,

You said, "Rand's movement towards conception of Kant as an irrationalist..."

I don't want to split hairs over irrationalist and go instead to a bias. I had the impression that Rand was extremely biased against Kant since Russia and she got this bias from Nietzsche.

At least, Nietzsche's views of Kant sound an awful lot like Rand at times.

:)

In that case, she wouldn't move toward a negative view of Kant. I believe she would have read Fuller looking for passages that confirmed (or negated) her already-formed negative view.

Is that your understanding? Or do you have a different view?

btw - I just ordered this work. When it arrives, it will go onto my growing pile of books to read. I think it will be interesting.

Michael

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I don't recall Leonard Peikoff mentioning Fuller's book in his lectures on the history of philosophy.

He mentioned Wilhelm Windelband, more than once, and said he had studied Windelband's 2-volume history very closely (spending 45 minutes on each side of a page). He did not say that Rand had read Windelband.

When he got to Kant, he mentioned reading the Critique of Pure Reason with the help of a commentary by H. J. Paton (Kant's Metaphysic of Experience). Paton also published a once widely read commentary on Kant's moral philosophy (The Categorical Imperative).

Robert Campbell

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It's unfortunate that anything like a full transcript of Rand's oral history interviews (with Nathaniel and Barbara Branden) has never been made available. And, apparently, won't be any time soon.

According to Jennifer Burns, for whom this was not a central concern, Rand in those interviews credits Leonard Peikoff with alerting her to the importance of Immanuel Kant, and the dangers his philosophy posed.

It would be nice to know exactly what she said, because Burns does not quote from these portions of the interviews—and most likely could not have gotten permission to use such quotations in her book.

Peikoff never cites these statements. He couldn't, because to take credit for influencing Rand's thinking on much of anything in philosophy would undermine his status as a pure conduit for her thought, on which he paradoxically grounds his unique authority to hex the Pentateuch and insert his own latter-day writings into the Objectivist corpus. The Peikovian myth is that Rand spoke, Peikoff listened, and Peikoff tried to remember.

I do know from my work on Rand's Q and A sessions that a 1962 answer, part of a radio interview following an abridged broadcast of "The Objectivist Ethics," was left out of Robert Mayhew's rewritten compilation. I'm reasonably sure it was left out because the answer indicates that in 1962 Rand did not understand Kant's moral philosophy very well—and definitely didn't understand it the way Peikoff did. See "The Rewriting of Ayn Rand's Spoken Answers"

http://myweb.clemson.edu/~campber/rewritingrand.pdf

specifically pages 128-130.

Robert Campbell

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Michael,

It's hard to read Twilight of the Idols and not find a close foreshadowing of some of Ayn Rand's animadversions on Kant. :)

Robert Campbell

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Michael,

3/14/10

In the 1936 version of We the Living, Rand has a line to display the type of mind and interests of protagonist Leo, who is Kira’s beloved. “When his young friends related, in whispers, the latest French stories, Leo quoted Kant and Nietzsche.” This line is included in Robert Mayhew’s study “We the Living: ’36 and ’59” (2004, 192). In the 1959 edit, Rand replaced Kant with Spinoza in this line (WL 127). Dr. Mayhew naturally is struck by the clear indication that Rand did not hold her well-known antipathy to Kant in her early years.

I wonder if Rand was not very familiar with Spinoza in her early years, and had she been familiar with him, would have used him instead of Kant. She would have known a smidgen of Spinoza simply from Nietzsche’s BGE. Certainly she would have noticed Nietzsche’s opposition to Kant’s theoretical and practical philosophy. Naturally, one wonders why she did not use Aristotle in Leo’s line in ’36 or in ’59. Perhaps because there is a level of difficulty and sustained, rarified thought widely recognized to be found in Kant and Spinoza, but not so widely associated with Aristotle. She wanted to contrast the shallowness of surrounding people with the serious mind and inner life of Leo, an inner life far away from the crush of the Red boot on their society. Then again, perhaps she used Spinoza rather than Aristotle because the latter is not so strongly egoist in ethics as the former; the polis looms large in the ethics of Aristotle. Another possibility would be that in ’36 her knowledge of Aristotle was significantly less than her knowledge of Spinoza, and that in ’59 she wanted to keep to that knowledge context within which she had created the novel in ’36.

Rand’s use of Kant in her original 1936 version does not necessarily signal absence of serious disagreement with Kant at that time, but it surely does indicate an intensification of her contempt for Kant’s ideas as she learned more through the years. By the time of the reissue, in revision, Rand regarded Kant’s as the antipode of her philosophy in every fundamental. Under her later assessment of Kant’s system, she would not have used him in the line about Leo, however shy of perfection she took to be the character Leo in his original, undefeated state.

I mentioned in Part 1 that Nietzsche learned what he knew of Kant mainly through secondary sources. It is my understanding that Rand likewise learned what she knew of Kant’s theoretical philosophy mainly through secondary sources, rather than through sustained study of Kant’s often-turgid Critique of Pure Reason, Prolegomena, and so forth. (Kant’s ethical writings are more amenable to reading by the general educated public, especially Groundwork.) I conjecture that Rand’s knowledge of Kant’s theoretical philosophy was a lot thinner in 1936 than in 1959. There were competent English commentaries available by ’59, such as Kant’s Metaphysics of Experience by H. J. Paton (1936). As I recall, that is the commentary on the first critique that Leonard Peikoff recommended in the Kant portion of his History of Philosophy taped lectures in the early 70’s. Naturally, in her philosophically mature period, one expects Rand had extensive discussions about Kant with her younger studious friends, such and Peikoff and B. Branden.

Near the conclusion of We the Living, Leo is arrested by Andrei, who is truest and best of Communists. Andrei is Red hero of the battle for Melitopol (1920) and son of Red father exiled to death in Siberia in the failed revolution of 1905. He is Kira’s second-lover and main philosophical interlocutor. (Andrei is my favorite male principal in the novel; he reminds me of Cimourdain, my favorite character in Hugo’s Ninety-Three.) In the arrest scene, Andrei throws this line at Leo: “A tendency for transcendental thinking is apt to obscure our perception of reality” (quoted in Mayhew 2004, 192). Rand cut this line in the 1959 edit. I do not think early Rand would have intended this use of transcendental to be an allusion to its full meaning in Kant’s transcendental idealism. It might be in parallel to Kant or to the American transcendentalists, such as Emerson, in meaning only that the ideals of Leo are on a plane that have become in fact impossible in their society. At the same time, Andrei’s charge of “transcendental thinking” definitely means thinking that penetrates truth not conformed to present social reality and the warped reality to which the Communist state would coerce all thought.

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Rand’s addresses Kant in Galt’s speech with the line “‘Things as they are’ are things as perceived by your mind” under sovereign reason (AS 1036). I think it is clear enough that Rand’s target here is Kant even though she says “things as they are” rather than “things in themselves.” It is right, given her own view of mind and reality, to refrain from the “in itself” part Kant's ding an sich, because that phrase arrests the reader's mind too easily with the well-advertised entrenched prejudice (from Rationalists to Empiricists to Kant) of profound inadequacy of sense or reason to reality. "Thing in itself" packs the jury.

Rand continues: “‘Things as they are’ are things as perceived by your mind; divorce them from reason and they become ‘things as perceived by your wishes.’” This follows the arc traced by Gilson (#4) in his chapter on Kant. Incapacity of Kant’s faculty of understanding to deliver a rational morality within the order of nature is portrayed by Gilson as having roots in Rousseau and as having its issue in Fichte with his plunge into moral feeling. Gilson criticizes Kant on duty, although Rand would likely, before 1945, have seen some criticisms of that by Nietzsche and possibly by Schopenhauer (she mentions early reading of him in a television interview). Gilson decries various splits Kant makes in the human being, providing some grist for the stress on disintegration that Rand and Peikoff later attach to Kant.* I’ve long wondered where Rand had been coming from in her odd and apparently novel idea, in “For the New Intellectual,” that Kant “formalized” the split between Rationalists and Empiricists. I think now she was really trying to touch on Kant’s divide between sense and understanding, which is lamented by Gilson (a Thomist), though without stepping into that technical vocabulary of Kant and his arguments for that division and his relations of the two.

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Stephen,

I'm looking at this Kant thing with Rand through a different filter.

Instead of seeing it as a purely philosophical issue, I see it as a fiction-writing one. Even though Rand was interested in philosophy in her youth, from her actions back then it is reasonable to assume she was far more interested in writing fiction.

In the way Rand learned fiction-writing, there had to be an evil villain. This was almost axiomatic. Her early models were Hollywood stories, the equivalent of pulp fiction at the time (her hero, Cyrus, in "The Mysterious Valley," certainly fought evil villains), and some classic novels (like Victor Hugo).

Later, as a polemicist, she always had an evil villain handy. Her nonfiction is full of hero-villain dichotomies. This thinking could even extend to events, like the Apollo moon landing (hero) vs. Woodstock (villain) in "Apollo and Dionysius." She kept a Horror File of villains and villainy in her newsletters. If I get going, I could cite example after example. This is how she generated the conflict and dynamic tension that made her nonfiction writing so interesting.

(Apropos, I believe the reason a lot of nonfiction writing in our neck of the woods is so dry is because people either blast a villain or praise a hero, but don't have a hero and villain fight it out during the essay.)


I admit, I got my idea that Rand's Kant-hatred came from Neitzsche early on from Ron Merrill in The Ideas of Ayn Rand. I wrote about this and quoted him back in 2006:

On Rand getting Kant-hatred from Nietzsche (p. 22):

... Nietzsche viewed himself as leading the opposition to one of history's most influential philosophers, Immanuel Kant. Nietzsche accused Kant of attempting to set limits to the validity of reason as a means of rescuing Christian, altruistic morality. He agreed with Kant that reason and altruism were incompatible. Unlike Kant, he was prepared to jettison religion and altruism, so Nietzsche rejected Kant's attack on reason. Rand adopted this view of Kant as her own, and never abandoned it. Like Nietzsche , to the end of her life she considered Kant her intellectual arch-enemy.


The following is a hunch, but I think Rand loved the way Nietzsche blasted Plato and Christianity. Even in her youth, it reminded her of her, so to speak. :smile:

Since Kant's project was to save Christianity from reason (to oversimplify), and Rand liked to find hidden causes in things and expose them, it's not a stretch to see her discovering the "real villain" in philosophy, especially since there are snipes against Kant all over Nietzsche's works. Ergo, in the end, Kant was the arch-villain, the most evil man in history, the one Nietzsche glimpsed but didn't fully realize. That kind of conclusion sounds like Rand to me.

The following passage by Rand happened near the end of her career. I believe it has roots in a very early Nietzschean influence, not just a later one ushered in by Peikoff. From “Causality Versus Duty” in Philosophy: Who Needs It (the passage is online here):

One of the most destructive anti-concepts in the history of moral philosophy is the term “duty.”

An anti-concept is an artificial, unnecessary and rationally unusable term designed to replace and obliterate some legitimate concept. The term “duty” obliterates more than single concepts; it is a metaphysical and psychological killer: it negates all the essentials of a rational view of life and makes them inapplicable to man’s actions . . . .

The meaning of the term “duty” is: the moral necessity to perform certain actions for no reason other than obedience to some higher authority, without regard to any personal goal, motive, desire or interest.

It is obvious that that anti-concept is a product of mysticism, not an abstraction derived from reality. In a mystic theory of ethics, “duty” stands for the notion that man must obey the dictates of a supernatural authority. Even though the anti-concept has been secularized, and the authority of God’s will has been ascribed to earthly entities, such as parents, country, State, mankind, etc., their alleged supremacy still rests on nothing but a mystic edict. Who in hell can have the right to claim that sort of submission or obedience? This is the only proper form—and locality—for the question, because nothing and no one can have such a right or claim here on earth.

The arch-advocate of “duty” is Immanuel Kant; he went so much farther than other theorists that they seem innocently benevolent by comparison. “Duty,” he holds, is the only standard of virtue; but virtue is not its own reward: if a reward is involved, it is no longer virtue. The only moral motivation, he holds, is devotion to duty for duty’s sake; only an action motivated exclusively by such devotion is a moral action . . . .

If one were to accept it, the anti-concept “duty” destroys the concept of reality: an unaccountable, supernatural power takes precedence over facts and dictates one’s actions regardless of context or consequences.


Now compare this to the following passage from The Antichrist by Nietzsche (online here):

11.

A word now against Kant as a moralist. A virtue must be our invention; it must spring out of our personal need and defence. In every other case it is a source of danger. That which does not belong to our life menaces it; a virtue which has its roots in mere respect for the concept of “virtue,” as Kant would have it, is pernicious. “Virtue,” “duty,” “good for its own sake,” goodness grounded upon impersonality or a notion of universal validity—these are all chimeras, and in them one finds only an expression of the decay, the last collapse of life, the Chinese spirit of Königsberg. Quite the contrary is demanded by the most profound laws of self-preservation and of growth: to wit, that every man find his own virtue, his own categorical imperative. A nation goes to pieces when it confounds its duty with the general concept of duty. Nothing works a more complete and penetrating disaster than every “impersonal” duty, every sacrifice before the Moloch of abstraction.

—To think that no one has thought of Kant’s categorical imperative as dangerous to life!... The theological instinct alone took it under protection!

—An action prompted by the life-instinct proves that it is a right action by the amount of pleasure that goes with it: and yet that Nihilist, with his bowels of Christian dogmatism, regarded pleasure as an objection.... What destroys a man more quickly than to work, think and feel without inner necessity, without any deep personal desire, without pleasure—as a mere automaton of duty? That is the recipe for décadence, and no less for idiocy.... Kant became an idiot.

—And such a man was the contemporary of Goethe! ...

12.

I put aside a few sceptics, the types of decency in the history of philosophy: the rest haven’t the slightest conception of intellectual integrity. They behave like women, all these great enthusiasts and prodigies—they regard “beautiful feelings” as arguments, the “heaving breast” as the bellows of divine inspiration, conviction as the criterion of truth. In the end, with “German” innocence, Kant tried to give a scientific flavour to this form of corruption, this dearth of intellectual conscience, by calling it “practical reason.” He deliberately invented a variety of reasons for use on occasions when it was desirable not to trouble with reason—that is, when morality, when the sublime command “thou shalt,” was heard. When one recalls the fact that, among all peoples, the philosopher is no more than a development from the old type of priest, this inheritance from the priest, this fraud upon self, ceases to be remarkable. ...


The parallels are obvious to me.

As an aside, the following might mean something or not. Rand greatly admired and respected H. L. Mencken in her youth and sought him out. Mencken wrote the introduction to The Antichrist in the translation above, which was published in 1918. Is there a there there? Maybe...

But even deeper, notice Nietzsche's derision of Kant. Especially the tone. I speculate that Rand picked up on this tone and observations, then consciously and unconsciously added her own reasons and emotions to it over time, which resulted in using Kant as a reification of an archetype straight out of Hollywood and pulp fiction (and later comic books): mankind's arch-villain.

(Ironically, this has a parallel in Christianity: Satan.)

This may not follow strict philosophical sleuthing, but it makes a lot of sense to me in looking at Rand as a fiction-writer.

Michael

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Truth of Will and Value

Part 2 – Zarathustra and Beyond

~Rand 1929–38~

. . . The first books Rand bought in the United States were English translations of Beyond Good and Evil, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and The Anti-Christ. “She marked up her new copies to indicate her favorite passages” (Milgram 2007, 24). I would not conclude that a writer, ever watching for material to assimilate into compositions one way or another, would underline only passages that were her favorites.$

. . .

In America the journalist H. L. Mencken had translated some of Nietzsche’s writings into English before the war. Mencken wrote a book about Nietzsche’s philosophy in 1908. Rand was a reader, around 1934, of something (unknown) by Mencken (Wright 2005, 209–10), but she read Nietzsche’s own texts, and in this she was fortunate. I have peeked into Mencken’s book on Nietzsche’s philosophy, and it is seriously flawed. He represents Nietzsche’s will to power as merely Schopenhauer’s will to life dressed up in different words. This is not simply false, but fantastically false.

. . .

1 March 2010

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

14 July 2011

$ - Correction: Dr. Milgram was not making an inference. She was reporting from a biographical interview in which Rand had stated not only that (i) those three works of Nietzsche, in English translation, were the first books she Rand bought when she got to America, but that (ii) she marked up her new copies to indicate her favorite passages.

Yes, Michael, on Rand and Anti-Christ. However, Rand had that work of Nietzsche in head long before 1936, when she finished We the Living. Yet Kant is given the positive note in that description of Leo. Something changed in her view of Kant after 1936; additional wrong, deeply wrong things in Kant must have come to her attention. She had to have come to new, further information on his philosophy to have come round to making an all-out villain of him. (By the way, personifying and psychologizing philosophies and philosophical movements is no substitute for mastering the philosophies and representing them accurately, indeed, it is junk.) One set of compelling additional information on Kant's views would be in the Gilson book, published in 1936 and read by Rand in 1945. Recall that she was also opening the history by Fuller in that year. Then too, if she was getting Aristotle more in hand at that time, it is likely he helped her to further develop her metaphysics and theory of knowledge and that may have helped her see how systematically her own (and Aristotle/Aquinas') theoretical philosophy was opposed to Kant's. It remains, of course, that her representations of Kant's views are importantly inaccurate, often a mirage, and indeed, she did not get to see fully the ways she ought to have opposed his philosophy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PS

Michael, the following passage from WL 1936 attempts to dissolve the concept duty into other rightness. It is consistent with the passage you quote from Nietzsche’s AC in its reach for a more personally sourced rightness and in jettison of usual notions of right and wrong, which are externally sourced (also consistent with Emerson, not only Nietzsche). However, in this excerpt from WL, Rand hangs on, unsteadily, to the notion that there is an objective rightness to be known and then necessarily followed, which is from Socrates.

3/14/10

“I thought that Communists never did anything except what they had to do . . . .”



“That’s strange,” he smiled, “I must be a very poor Communist. I’ve always done only what I wanted to do.”





“Your revolutionary duty?”



“There is no such thing as duty. If you know a thing is right, you want to do it. If you don’t want to do it—it isn’t right. If it’s right and you don’t want to do it—you don’t know what right is—and you’re not a man.”



“Haven’t you ever wanted a thing for no reason of right or wrong, for no reason at all, save one: that you wanted it?”





“Certainly. That’s always been my only reason. I’ve never wanted things unless they could help my cause. For, you see, it is my cause.”





“And your cause is to deny yourself for the sake of millions?”



“No. To bring the millions up to where I want them—for my sake.” (WL 1936, 92)

In this exchange, Kira is speaking Nietzsche, though only so far. As her own philosophy matured, Rand halted this line of Nietzschean thought in her own philosophy even farther from Nietzsche. It is not only Nietzsche that Kira is here speaking, but Nietzsche’s life-long, more innocent book-companion Emerson, who writes: “He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. . . . Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to this or that; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it” (“Self-Reliance”).

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Do we have any record of what Aristotle she read, at any time in her life? The final chapter of Atlas Shrugged contains a brief quote from the Metaphysics, and she had a favorite remark from the Poetics which she apparently first found in Nock.

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According to what Shoshana Milgram has put together in the chapter 4, a new chapter, for the second edition of Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living, Rand had been exposed to some readings from Aristotle in an ancient philosophy course in college. She found an affinity with him, but was apparently there introduced to ideas of his that she rejected already at that time: Prime Mover and teleology. Prior to that, she had some familiarity with Aristotle from a logic course in high school. Her college exposure was enough to convince her that she should eventually try to learn more Aristotle. By the way, Peter, if Prof. Milgram’s conjecture about exactly which course Rand took in college is correct, a collateral text used for that course was Windelband’s History of Ancient Philosophy (not to be confused with volume I of his two-volume work on the history of philosophy).

As an aside, I’d like to mention that the professor for that course would have been Aleksandr Ivanovich Vvdenskii, not Nikolai Onufrievich Losskii, whom Rand had later recalled to have been the professor. Chris Sciabarra wrote a rebuttal to Milgram’s conjecture in his second edition of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. I read Dr. Sciabarra’s rebuttal before reading Miligram’s own case, but upon reading the latter, I found it to be the more likely. I should mention, however, that even if Sciabarra were wrong about the identity of the professor, because Rand’s recall was in error, and hence about what was in the course, it could still be the case that ideas of Losskii influenced Rand in the facets proposed by Sciabarra (B. Branden did not buy this, and I'm doubtful myself). Beyond that, what is always more to my own interest and sense of importance, is the correct logical relation of the philosophy of philosopher A to philosophy of B, and that is something that can be worked through (well or poorly) quite apart from any historical influence. (Consider also the posts of Chris Sciabarra in this thread.)

Milgram identifies the works of Aristotle that Rand said she had begun to read in her letter to Patterson of July 26, 1945 as the Random House edition of his collected works. I see on Amazon that that is the McKeon edition (1941). By the time I started reading Aristotle extensively, the Princeton collection (Barnes 1984) was the deal for English-language readers in the condition "it's Greek to me."

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MSK

Since Kant's project was to save Christianity from reason (to oversimplify), and Rand liked to find hidden causes

That's unlikely since Kant didn't pray, go to church, believe in miracles, and got in trouble with the established Lutheran Church of his day. Other than that he was a fine Christian.

I seem to recall Barbara saying that she and LP would summarize contemporary philosophy for Rand.

I don't think Rand read much philosophy from the 40s on. For example, in her discussions with Hospers (in Letters) she used the term "modern philosophy" (Descartes forward) to mean "contemporary philosophy."

I seem to recall a Q&A where she understood "intentionality" to mean "volition."

NP

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Neil,

Kant did include God and the immortality of the soul among his "ideas of pure reason."

It is also true that he took a dim view of prayer.

Robert Campbell

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Ayn Rand's recollection of taking a course from Nikolai Onufrievich Lossky is a most peculiar thing.

It seems to be her only publicly reported recollection that the Peikovians desperately want to believe was mistaken.

Even more peculiarly, none of them appeared to care one way or the other about Lossky or Vvedensky or whoeverofsky—until Chris Sciabarra put forward the thesis that Rand was a dialectical philosopher, and Lossky's ideas might have been among those that inspired her.

Robert Campbell

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The NBI Book Service used to offer the McKeon volume. It would be interesting to know whether Rand read the whole thing.

It isn't the complete surviving works of Aristotle—not even close—but it is quite long.

Robert Campbell

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Robert,

I've seen Kant described as an atheist, agnostic and deist.

It would be interesting to see how Kant was received in his life and the next generation. Did his readers think he was planning on destroying the mind, saving orthodox religion, or designing gas chambers to kill Jews (as Peikoff thinks)?

-Neil

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Just as a reference, here is a link to the Ayn Rand Lexicon's page on Kant:

Kant, Immanuel

I got looking because I distinctly remember something about Kant saving Christianity from reason among some work or other I read by Rand or Branden or maybe Peikoff years ago. Maybe it was faith instead of Christianity, but the word "Christianity" seems so definite in my memory...

Whatever...

That's in the back of my mind and until I come across the passage again, I'll just leave it as it is.

Michael

EDIT: btw - If you Google the following, you get a boatload of hits:

Kant "save Christianity"

And if you include "Ayn Rand," you even get several. So I'm not alone in this impression. I might even be tempted to think I'm not crazy. :)

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Kant is quoted to the effect that "I have restricted reason to make room for faith." Seddon said in JARS a few years ago that this quote is subject to a multiple interpretations. Well Fred says stuff like that about everything.

-Neil Parille

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I'd be interested in to what extent Ayn Rand learned philosophy from established classical liberal intellectuals, as seemingly existed in abundance prior to 1914 (and who persisted somewhat into the 1920s and even 1930s). I'd also be interested in learning who, and which books, specifically taught her economics, sociology, and politics, such as Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, and Henry Hazlitt.

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BB's biography suggests that she learned most of it conversationally from Isabel Paterson. The only Hayek she ever read, according to BB, was Road to Serfdom, and she hated it (Letters 299, 308). On 308 she also mentions having read Omnipotent Government by von Mises. She knew von Mises and Hazlitt personally.

In one of her speeches she recommended Snyder's Capitalism the Creator.

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As far as I've been able to determine, Rand had never heard of Auguste Comte (and rarely referred to altruism) until Isabel Paterson mentioned him to her. She got a lot of her intellectual grounding in political theory, sociology, and economics from Pat.

I've heard it said that Leonard Read taught her economics. But she'd already met Isabel Paterson...

Robert Campbell

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Kant is quoted to the effect that "I have restricted reason to make room for faith." Seddon said in JARS a few years ago that this quote is subject to a multiple interpretations. Well Fred says stuff like that about everything.

-Neil Parille

"I have found it necessary to limit reason, in order to make room for faith," in the Norman Kemp Smith translation. The rest of the sentence is not usually quoted (and I don't have The Critique of Pure Reason in front of me), but it refers to "that unbelief, always very dogmatic, which makes war on morality."

Robert Campbell

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