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INTERVIEWS AND NOTICES

THE QUEEN'S JOURNAL 127, no. 29 (1 February 2000):  14-15.

The New Intellectuals:  A Profile of Ayn Rand

Peter Jaworski

Peter Jaworski, who heads the Queen's University Objectivist Group, discusses the growth of interest in Ayn Rand and her philosophy.  "Socrates once announced that 'wisest is he who knows he knows not.'  By that standard, Ayn Rand, the infamous novel-writing philosopher, is the dumbest ox on the philosophy farm.   Far from announcing her own profound ignorance, she opted to take the path of most resistance--she declared herself to be right." 

"In the realm of ethics, [Rand characterizes] rational selfishness as the height of virtue and altruism as the ultimate vice.  'She extended her defense of 'objectivity' into the realm of values,' points out Chris Sciabarra, the most prominent of the Rand academics, in an email interview with The Queen's Journal, 'viewing life (human life) as the standard by which to judge good and evil.'  Thus whatever promoted human life was 'good,' while that which did not was seen as 'evil'."

Jaworski discusses the increased attention Rand is receiving in the academy.  With the new postal stamp on Rand, "far be it for me to claim any sort of inevitability or fate here," says Jaworski, "but having to lick Ayn Rand's backside was bound to elicit some academic attention."  That attention is most visible in such books as Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand, "wherein we find a heated discussion about Ayn Rand's views of women."  Jaworski quotes Mimi Reisel Gladstein from her interview with Canada's National Post

"The neo-Randian Sciabarra, aside from co-editing the Feminist work, has published a solo project entitled Ayn Rand:   The Russian Radical.  This work seeks to find out more about her Russian background and ultimately declares that she can be viewed as sharing a dialectical tradition with Hegel and Marx.  Sciabarra explains:  'for me, while each of the branches of Rand's thought has a distinctive quality, it is the totality that is most distinctive . . . She had the ability to trace the interconnections among seemingly disparate branches of knowledge, and to focus on the 'full context,' arguing, in essence, that, while abstraction is necessary for analysis, integration completes understanding.'"

"But nothing in academia says 'I have arrived' more than an honest-to-goodness scholarly journal.  Having been released in the fall of last year, the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies is surely the most indicative preamble of Rand's future in our universities.  This particular journal, also co-edited by Sciabarra, promises to provide an honest appraisal of every aspect of her philosophy from her views on psychology . . . to her beliefs about epistemology."  Of course, the "official" Objectivists are busy "furiously denouncing all of the aforementioned works," explains Jaworski.   "As for the opposition encountered by the academics from the official Objectivists, well, their efforts are futile.  With a promising portent of things to come, Sciabarra declares that 'at this stage, nothing deters me.'  And nothing should." 


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