Philosophy, Who Needs It

ISBN: 0672527952
ISBN 13: 9780672527951
By: Ayn Rand

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Reader's Thoughts

Петър Стойков

На мен лично ми бе изключително трудно – докато оформях начина си на мислене, трябваше практически сам да измислям базисната постановка на идеите, в които вярвам, тъй като не я откривах в нито една философска книга, в нито една лекция по философия...Прочети цялото ревю:

Mat Anderson

I prefer Rand's fiction as a vessel for communicating her ideals.


Abstract principles are a part of our life whether we acknowledge it or not. That is the message of Ayn Rand's book, "Philosophy: Who Needs It." In a vigorous and thoughtful list of essays, Ayn Rand talks about how we must return to the original abstract principles that animate our thinking. This book is particularly significant today since capitalism is being challenged on a moral basis, especially from the radical environmental movement. This movement is trying to use emotionalism as a method of furthering their socialistic/communist principles. As Ayn Rand mentions, the socialists/communists could not win on a majority vote by providing the public with a clear statement of what their goals are. However, the socialists/communists--which are dressed up in the Green movement--instead confuse the public through evasions, contradictory statements, censorship, brainwashing them through the government-run school system, in order to get the public to subscribe to these views.What I liked most in particular is Ayn Rand's statement that one has a right to live for one's own sake--and no one else. Rand's view is that capitalism and individualism must be argued on a moral basis, not on an economic one. The economic argument is that capitalism promotes economic growth, and thus, for this reason alone, it must be tolerated. Instead, Ayn Rand's view is that, regardless of the economics, one has a right to live for their own sake, and for the sake of others. A person cannot be compelled to be a slave nor enslave others. (The current welfare system, for instance, requires that one take on unearned obligations to others, and thus, one is living one's life for that of another.) Further, Ayn Rand also discusses how our current mixed economy system (read: Social Security, government-run schools, Medicaid) will eventually result in a dictatorship because in order to keep this sytem going, it requires subjecting the individual to the state. When the individual fails to comply, as is most certainly likely to happen as time goes on, the only way the state will be able to enforce the rule of altruism is at the point of a gun.IN PRACTICE, Ayn Rand's views have been endorsed by reality. The freest states in America--the ones that believe in individualism, and limited government--have had the highest degree of population growth, economic growth (thus, more productivity from the most productive), and, I dare say, happiness (since they are able to pursue their happiness to the maximum extent, without government-control).


By far, Ayn Rand's best nonfiction book for making the case for objectivism as a serious branch of philosophy that embraces the nontheological portions of Saint Thomas Acquinas's Aristotlean school of thought. Every libertarian should read this book, because here is where Ayn Rand definitively rejects portions of the libertarian creed. In this book, she effectively dismantles libertarians' disdain for all limits on the individual's behavior as immoral, because if, say, speed limits were eliminated, then when scaled up to large populations (which is the main theme of this book as a way of fighting Kant's altruism) the roadways become so dangerous as to eventually guarantee death by automobile wreck; unwanted death is the ultimate ripping away of liberty of the individual.


Life changing.Ayn Rand... anyone who calls her a Communist just proves they have absolutely NO idea what she's about since she's actually the complete opposite.Again, life changing. Changes perspective on life. Makes you think outside the box we've been taught, no, forced to think inside of.The first couple of pages are enough to make your head expand. Amazing woman.


Nope. just not going to happen.The only people I can see this book appealing to are one's with the same psychopathic tendencies and Rand herself.This book would resonate with people looking for a way to make selfishness justifiable in every aspect of life, for those who have a complete lack of empathy and think compassion an unnecessary weakness... or those who have no idea what either of those actually are.This was just too depressing to finish, especially when I realised there is a whole mess of people who follow this way of life like a religion.maybe one day, for purely academic purposes, I'll return to it... but I hope that day never comes.

Kelly Murray

The bottom line is, we all live by a philosophy- whether or not we're aware of it. This book shows you why it's so important to know what kind of philosophy you're living and making choices by, and makes one aware of how their pattern of coming to conclusions affects everything about their being. A must read for anyone interested in understanding their inner workings better.

Haider Al-Mosawi

While this book is a great reference to understanding Ayn Rand's philosophy, Objectivism, its true value is in explaining what philosophy is and why it's important. An extremely important lesson in today's world, especially when so many discussions are fruitless exchanges of opinion, without knowing - let alone questioning - basic philosophical assumptions.

Христо Блажев

Айн Ранд създава интелектуално бойно поле във “Философията: кому е нужна”Айн Ранд не може да не бъде полемична, не може да не бъде противоречива, не може да не бъде провокативна. Но във “Философията: кому е нужна” тя е нещо повече – тя е агресивна, настъпателна и гръмогласна. Убедена в собствената си философия, сигурна в моралното превъзходство на идеите си, опряна удобно на величествените романи “Изворът” и “Атлас изправи рамене”… И от този пиадестал тя сипе огън и жупел връз всеки, който според нея застава на пътя на капитализма и цивилизацията, едно тъждество и тържество на разума над духа.


Ayn Rand is completely misunderstood in the popular culture- she was not a heartless selfish individualist without a care for her fellow man. Ayn Rand was a principled philosopher in the tradition of Aristotle- who realized that human beings are ends in themselves and can only flourish by being free to act according to the dictates of reason and conscience. Ayn Rand isn't opposed to love, to friendship, to organized groups of people with a common purpose. She was opposed to coercion in all forms, and as such Ayn Rand was an optimist and a champion of human dignity. Unlike most modern intellectuals, Ayn Rand realized that pure capitalism is good and natural and right. We are men, not ants- and free market capitalism, not socialism or communism, is part of our nature. Let human reason flourish, let markets flourish, and humanity will flourish. I'm not saying I agree with everything she said- I'm just saying that her world is not some kind of dark, dog-eat-dog, man-against-man hell. In fact, her world is one of human flourishing and human dignity where men are free to participate in their own creation- to become persons of character, worthy of love, confident in their own human goodness.


Part VI of a multi-part review series.Rand’s last work, but it’s just more of the same. Peikoff’s introduction indicates that Rand showed, in Atlas Shrugged, that bad epistemology leads to “train wrecks, furnace breakouts, and sexual impotence” (vii). Good to know! Same introduction dismisses non-randian philosophy as “a senseless parade of abstractions to fill out the ritual at cocktail parties” and “a ponderous Continental wail of futility resonating with Oriental overtones” (viii).Philosophy is broken down in the first chapter into five sub-areas: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, and aesthetics (3-4). Logic as a sub-area is conspicuously absent, which is of course completely indicative of the whole. There follows a schematic parade of horrible, wherein we are treated to the normal intentional straw person accounts of prior writers: Hume is boiled down as “nobody can be certain of anything”; Plato is “This may be good in theory, but it doesn’t work in practice”; St. Augustine is “nobody is perfect in this world”; “nobody can help anything he does” is Hegel; and so on (4). This method is entirely consistent with her other writings: dishonest presentations of other thinkers without citation to any particular text and without quotation and rigorous analysis of anything actually written.Other defects appear quickly: “your subconscious is like a computer […] and its main function is the integration of ideas. Who programs it? Your conscious mind” (5-6). None of that makes any internal sense, when compared to her writings otherwise about the integration of perceptions to form concepts, nor does it make any sense regarding her bizarre theory of volition. It’s all vague and unfalsifiable and illogical. Why, after all, would the conscious mind be the programmer of the unconscious mind, rather than vice versa? Who intentionally, consciously decides I decide to repress these unapproved sexual desires?Kant is the great enemy of the collection, as he began the “dominant trend of philosophy” for two centuries: “directed to a single goal: the destruction of man’s mind” (6-7) (NB: the oddball “collectivist” singular mind in the formulation). Overall, there’s plenty of misguided broadsides against Kant in this volume, though she has venom for most other writers: Russell, Skinner (for an entire chapter!), Marx of course--but none of it is rigorous or thorough. Rawls is “obscenely evil” (33)--moral and aesthetic condemnation, two for price of one! Though she has an entire chapter on Rawls’ Theory of Justice (102-19), “I have not read and do not intend to read that book” (109). So, there it is.All of this upsidedown & backward should-be-satire-but-sadly-it’s-not is mixed in with the irritating jingoism of a recent convert: “you are accused of being a tool of imperialism--and ‘imperialism’ is the name given to the foreign policy of this country, which has never engaged in military conquest and has never profited from the two world wars, which she did not initiate, but entered and won” (8-9). (We are given a by-the-bye regarding “the military-industrial complex--which is a myth” (9).) Startling, of course, that the US did not benefit from the world wars, but we’re definitely in an alternate reality with the objection that the US never engaged in military conquest.We are told that “America is the living refutation of a Kantian universe” (9), which is why people hate it (as opposed to “love for communism.”) Cute, no? I wish the world were that cool: Let’s burn a US flag for the sake of Kant!It’s not obvious that Kant has been read or understood. For instance, she summarizes that Kant is “a systematic rationalization of every major philosophical vice” (a surreal phrasing, making philosophy itself a matter of moral vice): “the metaphysical inferiority of this world (as a ‘phenomenal’ world of mere ‘appearances’), is a rationalization for the hatred of reality” (19). Huh? That’s not what the noumenal/phenomenal distinction does, at all. She continues: “the notion that reason is unable to perceive reality and deals only with ‘appearances’ is a rationalization for the hatred of reason” (id.). Of course, one reading of Kant’s position was that noumenal reality is not knowable by the senses (that’s phenomenal reality)--but can be apprehended indirectly by reason. I don’t think that Rand’s summary of Kant’s position bears even featherweight scrutiny. Reason, after all, is not said to “perceive” anything--the senses perceive.Kant is ultimately dismissed as “the moral imperative of the duty to sacrifice oneself to duty [huh?], a sacrifice without beneficiaries [huh?], is a gross rationalization for the image (and soul [huh?]) of an austere, ascetic monk who winks at you with an obscenely sadistic pleasure [WTF?]” (19). Otherwise, “the ultimate monument to Kant and the whole altruist morality is Soviet Russia” (65).She intones, regarding “altruism” (yes, still on about this): “when a theory achieves nothing but the opposite of its alleged goals, yet it advocates remain undeterred, you may be certain that it is not a conviction, or an ‘ideal,’ but a rationalization” (20). Invisible hand, anyone? Same Dunning-Kruger effect as in other volumes: “stagnant barbarism” in reference to the humanities in general (26).She has a serious problem in setting up straw-persons to knock down, as when she discusses a hypothetical professor who insists on the insufficiency of proving “that something is” but rather “one must also prove that it had to be--and since nothing had to be, nothing is certain and anything goes” (28). Who said that? Oh, no one actually said that? Well, why then are we arguing against a position no one ever held? That’s Rand in a nutshell.Some bad conceptualization (no surprise!) in an untheorized distinction between “metaphysically given facts” and “man-made facts” (31): “a skyscraper is a man-made fact, a mountain is a metaphysically given fact.” Alrighty then!Defective self-awareness: “The anti-conceptual mentality takes most things as irreducible primaries and regards them as ‘self-evident’” (38). Kinda like objectivism, no? This text is really a string of dogmatic pronouncements and non-sequiturs built on same--typical of the other writings. Instead of rigor, we get citations to Atlas Shrugged.Similarly, we see a repeated default in her selective historicism: “Never mind the low wages and the harsh living conditions of the early years of capitalism. They were all that the national economies of the time could afford. Capitalism did not create poverty--it inherited it” (66). This is not an objection that she would allow regarding economic systems that she does not like. Can it seriously be contended that she would allow the objection that the Soviet Union was dicked up in its initial years because the Leninists inherited a raw deal from tsarism, or that the Maoists inherited a bad situation in post-WW2 China?Neo-spenglerian pronouncements: “Staleness is the dominant characteristic of today’s culture” (162), an essay written in 1972, the year of The Godfather, Deliverance, Pink Flamingos, and Deep Throat, as well as books of 1972, and whatever music and art and whatnot. It really is ludicrous.But: “the symptoms of today’s cultural disease are: conformity […], timidity […], and a pall of fear” (162). “Psychologically, this is the cultural atmosphere of a society living under censorship. But there is not censorship in the United States” (id.). She is of course complaining about market censorship, but she wouldn’t refer to it that way. It is all rather a symptom of altruist-collectivist-mystical conspiracy. And how does the conspiracy function? “As a mixed economy, we are chained by an enormous tangle of governmental controls” (163). Okay! And who is at the head of the conspiracy of non-censorship that nonetheless through market mechanisms causes conformism? University researchers, of course, who are enemies of the system, but take public funds. Private funding is fine, of course, as a foolish venturer allegedly “harms no one but himself” and “the money he spends is his own” (168-69). We will just brush under the rug the fact that the money that is “his own” may not have the most clear title or may have been derived from sweatshoppe labor or whatever; and we will just ignore the anti-democratic nature of private charity--significant decisions will be made by the property owner without any democratic decision-making. When that venture fails, it is likely to harm more than the capitalist. But Rand doesn’t care to think through anything--it’s all heroic individualism, &c.Lengthy chapter on Supreme Court rulings on obscenity is comical: “what is called ‘hard-core’ pornography” she regards as “unspeakably disgusting”--even though “I have not read any of the books or seen any of the current movies belonging to that category” (173). This is the constant refrain: I do not have any experience with X, but I know that I hate X. It’s childish beyond measure. I don’t want to eat broccoli! I don’t like it even though I haven’t tried it! Like any four-year-old, before she’s permitted to be heard, Rand should be made to sit at the dinner table until she finishes her hard-core pornography (or broccoli).Her readings of the obscenity cases are surprisingly not horrible (for a non-attorney). She attempts to raise questions that she apparently regards as dispositive: “The intellectual standard which is here set up to rule an individual’s mind […] is the judgment of an average person applying community standards” (174), which is language of First Amendment case law for obscenity--except it is specifically not to rule the mind, but to rule publication. She picks at “community standards” as undefined, and at “community” as unidentified. This is the problem with non-attorneys (not to be a dick or anything): that’s all a cipher for the jury drawn from the jurisdiction in which the dispute will have arisen. Same with average person, reasonableness, prurience, seriousness, and so on. She wants some a priori definition to all this, and I don’t necessarily disagree with her--but the objections she raises are worked out by the jury system. Then she twists any good points she has about obscenity law into a rant about “the living hell of antitrust” (184). It’s a joke--and it only gets worse because “the clause giving Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce is one of the major errors in the Constitution” (id.). By contrast, NB she never raises criticism of the US constitution for its approval of chattel slavery.Recommended only for bloody socialists, those who want to enter the Augean Stables, and readers with so profound a hatred of mankind.

Matt Faus

The first few chapters of this book are incredible. They do an outstanding job of describing the obligation of every person to analyze their personal philosophy to become the person they want to be.The "Egalitarianism and Inflation" chapter had the best description of inflation due to government I've ever read.The rest of the book is very zealous prose of Rand bashing other thinkers or ways of life.

Andrej Drapal

It is simply amazig how Ayn uses her rather narrow vcabulary of concepts to explain thought and lifestyle situations with chrystal precision. This is not any kind of comprehensive philosophy, but stll far the best positioning of a man vesrus a collective. There are few chapters that are outdated, but overall you can simply derive values valid for any situation.


Uma série de palestras sobre a filosofia dessa famosa autora americana. O Objetivismo como ela chama seu pensamento filosófico e que foi e está sendo usado como base filosófica do modelo capitalista. O livro tem altos e baixos e algumas vezes é um pouco repetitivo como não poderia deixar de ser quando se reúnem artigos publicados em diversas épocas e em diversos meios. As críticas tanto à direita conservadora quanto à esquerda radical são o ponto alto mostrando como elas se encontram como lados de uma mesma moeda. O livro é um libelo por vezes iluminista por vezes utilitarista do modelo democrático e do estado de direito. Estou lendo outro livro dela agora que está me parecendo mais estruturado. Não se consegue concordar com tudo que Ms Rand fala mas suas críticas são tão contundentes que merecem ser ouvidas. Seu estilo trafega entre Roberto Campos, Merquior e Nelson Rodrigues, só quem lê-la vai entender o que eu digo.

Brent McCulley

In "Philosophy: Who Needs It," Ayn Rand, through a collection of some of her lectures and essays which were compiled posthumously, revisits a lot of her objectivist philosophy that is more eloquently outlined in her book The Virtue of Selfishness. Nevertheless, this compilation was quite a delight to read, as there were little gems scattered throughout the book, that made the collection well worth the 200+ pages. Notwithstanding Rand's seething loath for Kantian epistemology and metaphysics - which she makes abundantly clear throughout the first twelve or thirteen essays - Rand has a affable quality in her writing, despite her coarse prose, which often comes off as arrogance.Even still, the books treatment of reason, as the foundation for metaphysics is made clear the first ten essays, but she takes the last four or five essays dealing with political-theory, and discussed subjects from economics and moral cause vs. duty of an individual citizen. Since a lot of this book is just re-hashed objectivism, if one has already read her other works which make her philosophy very clear such as The Virtue of Selfishness and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, this book would still be worth the purchase for the last essay alone, entitled "Don't Let It Go." A clarion call to Americans, who value individualism, reason, and integrity, to be the change, lest our ominous future of chaos and tyranny befall us before it's too late.-Brent McCulley (10/4/13)

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