THE VOICE OF REASON

ESSAYS IN OBJECTIVIST THOUGHT (AYN RAND LIBRARY)

A provocative collection of speeches and essays by the controversial Rand (d. 1982; author of Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, etc.). Rand's longtime associate and literary executor, Peikoff, has collected here more than 20 of her statements on politics, art, literature, economics, and philosophy. Peikoff succinctly defines Rand's philosophy of "Objectivism" in his introduction: "Objectivism upholds capitalism in politics, on the basis of egoism in ethics, on the basis of reason in epistemology." Rand insisted that there is an objective reality, and was a passionate and convincing advocate of individual liberty. For example, in her 1968 essay "Of Living Death," Rand challenges the "mystical doctrines that underlie the Roman Catholic Church's opposition to contraception and abortion." Rand concludes, "Abortion is a moral right. . . Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to [a woman] what disposition she has to make of the functions of her own body?" In "The Inverted Moral Priorities," Rand makes a rousing defense of wealth as the source of creativity and productivity in our economy; in "The Intellectual Bankruptcy of Our Age," she urges liberals to reclaim their intellectual heritage by returning their support to laissez-faire capitalism. Rand unabashedly celebrated the creative force of the free human mind that creates industries, science, and art out of the brute facts of nature. She believed that the US was the last, best hope of mankind, and feared that collectivist dogmas like communism and fascism were undermining America's Enlightenment heritage of individual liberty and private property. Prickly, well-articulated polemic, at times persuasive, at times infuriating: prime Rand.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 1988

ISBN: 0452010462

Page Count: 305

Publisher: New American Library

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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