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

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

THE ART OF SOLITUDE

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Close Quickview