Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand

Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand



Robert White has written a 1 May 2006 postscript to his Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand review, which I reproduce here, at the author's request, and with the author's permission:

I would like to make clear, for the public record, that I no longer agree with the tone and much of the content of my contributions to the Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand debate. This debate took place in The Free Radical from June/July 1999 to May/June 2000. Six years have now passed. In the intervening time, I have come to rethink many of the issues raised in the debate. I still do not accept the legitimacy of feminist interpretations of Rand (or anyone else). However, I now accept that despite its flaws, the anthology represents a significant recognition of the legitimacy of Rand studies. I also now take the position that the tone of my contributions, including many of my statements and accusations, were inappropriate and unscholarly. I, therefore, repudiate these articles. I appreciate the continued interest in the Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand debate. However, I ask that anyone citing my contributions make it clear that these articles do not represent my current position on, or approach to, philosophical issues.

Here is a summary of White's original contribution, with a link to his original review:

Ayn Rand: Feminist? Argh!

White, echoing both John Ridpath and Robert Tracinski, views this book as yet one more sign of the  "academicisation or destruction of Ayn Rand . . . "  Indeed, he says, "Modern academics will love it! I hate this book, but then I despise modern academia and those so-called Objectivists, the traitors among us, who seek to appease them."

Though he praises essays by Wendy McElroy and Nathaniel Branden, he condemns the rest of the book as "sewage," citing Valérie Loiret-Prunet's essay as "the worst," with Melissa Jane Hardie's essay on Rand's fiction as "camp," a close second.  "The other essays left me sighing in resignation and disgust."  Overall, the book, he says, "is symptomatic of a disease which infects many Objectivists who associate with the Institute for Objectivist Studies: the black plague of academic respectability. These Objectivists are transforming the philosophy into a mealy-mouthed, irrationally tolerant, Pollyannaistic, passionless carcass of its former self, as they bend over backwards to show the enemy - modern academia - that Objectivists can neo-Hegelianise their hermeneutics with the best of them. . . . Ayn Rand would roll over in her grave if she knew that her intellectual descendants had become Peter Keatings trying to gain academic respectability, not because her ideas are valid, but for the number of times 'images of three' appear in her novels! Objectivism should be promoted in the universities with the goal of reversing the trend of modern academia, not with endorsing that trend."  This book, White declares, "implicitly endorses" the "corruption" of acadmia and "thus sells out Objectivist principles to the enemy," making Rand's work "unrecognisable." 

Sciabarra's Response - and a Raging Debate in TFR!! Click here to view Chris Matthew Sciabarra's response

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