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Russian Radical 2.0: Another Review and Forthcoming Response

One can find a new review (among others) of the second edition of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, on both amazon.com and Goodreads, written by Ilene Skeen.

Skeen's five-star review unleashed the hounds, again, especially one named Brad Aisa, who never loses an opportunity to dump on the book. I wrote on one Facebook thread, in response to Mr. AisA, the following:

As Ronnie Reagan once said: "There you go again." I will therefore re-post this material from an October 2016 discussion of the book, where I revealed that Brad Aisa had a very different view of the book when it first came out. He made a January 1996 comment on the usenet group alt.philosophy.objectivism. Today, the book he dismisses as "a giant pile of stinking hogwash," despite its "reasonable" first part, once said that he was "quite perplexed reading the entire first section of the book." But he admits back in 1996, that "Sciabarra's regard for Rand is obvious, and there is no evidence he is trying to smear or attack her..." And he even had a couple of kind things to say about the middle section that he now dismisses as "schtick" and "grievously flawed". In January 1996, he wrote: "The middle section of Sciabarra's book seemed to me to be an honest thinker's attempt to summarize Objectivism and relate it to Rand's fiction." Finally, he reveals a high regard for Part 3 of the book:
The final section [that would be Part 3, "The Radical Rand"] was the only really valuable part of the book, in my view -- an attempt to show the relationship between philosophic ideas and culture, using Objectivism as the subject. I think that many Objectivists could greatly benefit from studying what Sciabarra points out in this section. Philosophic ideas do not exist in a vacuum, and there is a profound interrelationship between culture and philosophic ideas, which is NOT one way. For example, statist political regimes have a very demonstrable effect on what kminds of ideas are taught and promulgated, and free societies likewise. The notions in this section are not absent from Objectivist writings -- for example see: Ayn Rand's essay "Our Cultural Value-Deprivation" (_The Objectivist_, Apr 66) wherein she discusses the relationship between cultural and individual development; and Edith Packer's essay "The Psychological Requirements of a Free Society" (_The Objectivist Forum_, Feb 84), wherein she explains the interrelationship between free thinking people and a free culture -- but some Objectivists seem to latch onto the notion of "philosophy determines history", and not realize the context of that idea, and the profound interre.lationships be.tween the spread of ideas, the content of ideas, and individual and cultural practice.
He has never addressed these comments that he made over 20 years ago, instead, joining the old chorus of critics who never lose an opportunity to denounce the book, virtually in its entirety, with no real understanding of the book's central methodological thesis. It is a thesis that Ilene Skeen grasps so well in the review: "The question Sciabarra raises for me, which I find riveting, even revolutionary, is what is there about Rand’s method that allows her to disregard all the methods and their many variations, and still wind up with a complete, cogent and organic philosophical whole? To my knowledge, no other book intended for the lay market has stimulated that question, framed as Sciabarra has done . . ."
Whether or not Ilene agrees with all of my answers is beside the point; at the very least Ilene acknowledges what is the central methodological thesis; my focus in that book had more to do with how Rand was exposed to, and may have absorbed aspects of, the dialectical method, a method that was in the intellectual air of Silver Age Russia---a method that was first fully articulated by Aristotle himself, whom even Hegel called "the fountainhead" of dialectical inquiry.
I will only add that I will be addressing the critics of Russian Radical 2.0 in a forthcoming article in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, and what I reveal there should raise a few eyebrows, to say the least.