Rebirth of Reason

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010 - 2:53amSanction this postReply

The Glory of Man

I first read Atlas Shrugged in fall term of 1967. I was a sophomore in college. During the summer, I had read The Fountainhead, my first exposure to Rand’s fiction and Rand’s ideas. (Page numbers before the semicolon are for the paperback Signet edition of Atlas; those after are for the first edition of the Random House hardback.)

Immediately, I liked:
Dagny (20–25; 12–18)
Rearden (33–38; 26–32)
Francisco (93–112; 94–113)
Galt (652–55; 702–5)

My favorite scenes are four:

1. The First Run of the John Galt Line
“The lights, hanging on a signal bridge against the sky, were green. There were green lights between the tracks, low over the ground, dropping off into the distance where the rails turned and a green light stood at the curve, against leaves of a summer green that looked as it they, too, were lights.” (228; 239)
“She watched the bridge growing to meet them—a small, square tunnel of metal lace work, a few beams criss-crossed through the air, green-blue and glowing, struck by a long ray of sunset light from some crack in the barrier of mountains. . . . She heard the rising, accelerating sound of the wheels—and some theme of music, heard to the rhythm of the wheels, kept tugging at her mind, growing louder. . . .” (236; 247)

2. The Crash into the Valley and the Awakening to Galt in Full Sunlight
“She was back at the wheel, she was speeding down the runway, she was rising into the air, her plane like a bullet aimed at two low sparks of red and green light that were twinkling away into the eastern sky.” (646; 693)
“. . . as if his faculty of sight were his best-loved tool and its exercise were a limitless, joyous adventure, as if his eyes imparted a superlative value to himself and to the world—to himself for his ability to see, to the world for being a place so eagerly worth seeing. . . . as if he, too, were seeing the long-expected and the never-doubted.” (652; 701–2)

3. John and Dagny, Each to Each
“Then she stopped. It was his eyes and hair that she saw first. . . . She saw John Galt among the chain gang of the mindless. . .” (885; 954)
“. . . that nothing more could be desired, ever.” (888; 957)

4. The Deliverance of Rearden
“Silence was his only sensation, as he sat at the wheel of his car, speeding back down the road to Philadelphia. It was the silence of . . .” (916; 987)
“The glare of steel being poured from a furnace shot to the sky beyond the window. A red glow went sweeping slowly over the walls of the office, over the empty desk, over Rearden’s face, as if in salute and farewell.” (927; 999)

My favorite philosophical passage is:
“By the grace of reality and the nature of life, man—every man—is an end in himself, he exists for his own sake, and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose.” (941; 1014)

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010 - 2:55amSanction this postReply

From Fountainhead to Atlas

Rand wrote in The Fountainhead that the power of the creator is a power “self-sufficient, self-motivated, self-generated” (737). Human creation is necessary for survival and for raising humankind ever higher (737–39). As a primary life force, the creator lives primarily for himself, and his creations are “his goal and life” (737, also 740).

The creative process is a function of the individual reasoning mind. Creation is individual thought, vision, feeling, strength, courage, and judgment. All of these are functions of the individual self, the ego (F 659, 737–40).

The virtues of the creator in Fountainhead are: independence, creative achievement, loyalty to reason, and integrity, which includes courage (737–40). (I should mention that the conception of creative achievement Rand is putting forth as an ideal includes heights intending to delight customers [581–82].) The choice of independence or dependence “rests upon the alternative of life or death” (739–40). “The code of the creator is built on the needs of the reasoning mind which allows man to survive” (740).

Within the virtues of the extraordinary creator (such as Howard Roark) are the virtues of good people in general. Rand continues: “Degrees of ability vary, but the basic principle remains the same: the degree of a man’s independence, initiative, and personal love for his work determines his talent as a worker and his worth as a man” (F 740). For every good individual, honesty, courage, and basing one’s self-respect on “personal standards of personal achievement” are virtues (658). For every human being, to suspend one’s faculty of independent judgment is to suspend consciousness, and “to stop consciousness is to stop life” (659).

Happiness requires truly personal desires. It requires self-motivation. It requires a self-sufficiency in one’s spirit, a self-sufficient ego, which is selfishness (F 559–60).

When we turn from Fountainhead to Atlas, we find Rand’s ethical thought fully developed. Seven moral virtues are articulated, for all individuals: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, and pride. Here the virtues are argued not only upon a characterization of the kind of individual who makes human existence possible—the individual self-sufficient, self-motivated, self-generated—but upon a characterization of all life preceding and supporting rational, volitional life: organism-life as “a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action” (AS 1013).

Value comes into the world only by the emergence of organisms out of inanimate chemicals (AS 994, 1012–13, 1016). Every organism’s life is “a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action. If an organism fails in that action, it dies; its chemical elements remain, but its life goes out of existence. It is only the concept of ‘Life’ that makes the concept ‘Value’ possible. It is only to a living entity that things can be good or evil” (AS 1012–13).

“Every living species has a way of survival demanded by its nature” (AS 1014). That goes for plants, insects, and right on up to man. A fish cannot live out of water, a dog cannot live without its sense of smell, and neither can a man survive any-which-way-whatever. Man has an identity, a nature. Man’s life is made possible only by thinking and achievement (AS 1014–15). Correct virtues—whether peculiar of an extraordinary creator, or peculiar of an excellent practitioner of a particular profession, or common for all good persons—correct virtues are actions by which one gains or keeps correct values (AS 1012). The correct actions and correct values pertinent to every individual are those judged by the standard of Man’s Life to “the purpose of preserving, fulfilling, and enjoying the irreplaceable value which is your life” (AS 1014).


I have summarized above Rand’s basics of ethics as displayed in The Fountainhead, then her basics of ethics as developed further in Atlas Shrugged. One contribution in the collection Essays on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is by Darryl Wright. The title of his essay is “Ayn Rand’s Ethics: From The Fountainhead to Atlas Shrugged.” This essay alone is worth the price of the book.

From the conclusion of Wright’s essay:

“What can we say overall about the development of Ayn Rand the moral philosopher in the period spanning the publication of her two greatest novels? The theme that runs through each of the topics we have considered is our profound need of morality. It is her conclusion that we would need morality even on a desert island that prompts her shift from taking independence to taking rationality as the primary virtue. It is her recognition of the indispensability of moral ideals that motivates her concern with spiritual exploitation and her critique of altruism. And it is her quest for the deepest philosophical justification of the thesis that we need morality to live that drives her to one of her most important insights—that the very idea of ‘value’ is inconceivable apart from the concept and phenomenon of life.”

In tracing Rand’s development of her ethics between ’43 and ’57, Wright uses the two novels themselves, but in addition, he uses (i) Rand’s draft material for a non-fiction work not completed, titled The Moral Basis of Individualism, and (ii) Rand’s notes for Atlas. Notice, when you read Wright’s essay, how Rand is rising above the Greeks in her rise in ethical theory from Fountainhead to Atlas.

Post 2

Saturday, March 6, 2010 - 8:02pmSanction this postReply

I mentioned in the root post of this thread that this volume of essays will be the subject of an Authors-Meet-Critics session of the Ayn Rand Society at the Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association on April 3, 6:00-9:00 p.m. The Meeting is at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco. The critics will be Christine Swanton, Lester Hunt, and William Glod. The responding authors will be Onkar Ghate, Allan Gotthelf, and Gregory Salmieri.

Further details of this session are these:

Prof. Swanton will discuss Prof. Salmieri’s contribution “Atlas Shrugged on the Role of the Mind in Man’s Existence.”

Dr. Glod will discuss Dr. Ghate’s contribution “The Role of Galt’s Speech in Atlas Shrugged” and Prof. Gotthelf’s contribution “Galt’s Speech in Five Sentences (and Forty Questions).”

Prof. Hunt will discuss Salmieri's “Discovering Atlantis: Atlas Shrugged's Demonstration of a New Moral Philosophy” and Gotthelf's “A Note on Dagny's ‘Final Choice’.”

The title of Lester Hunt’s paper is “Dagny’s Motivation.” I found it very thoughtful and fresh. However, it was bleak for me to read:

“I don't think anyone has ever told me their favorite character is John Galt. If someone ever did, my first thought would be that they might have misunderstood the question. ‘I didn't mean “which character do you think is the most perfect person, in terms of talent, moral virtue, and achievements?” but something more like “which one do you, personally, think of with the most fondness?”’

Galt was my favorite character. I read the novel through three times only, over a period of about three years. On the first reading, Galt could not become my favorite until he was revealed at the opening of Part III of the story. On the second reading, his presence, and me knowing it, is there all along, moving in the shadows until the sunlight. In that second reading, he was positively electric for me. By the third reading, he had become an old friend.

It is a kind of mind and purpose, you see—a kind of intense, rich, and sweeping consciousness.

One day in ’77, my partner Jerry and I were having brunch with a new libertarian acquaintance, who said that he had read Atlas, but that he just didn’t know characters in his life with that kind of intensity. Jerry looked straight at our new acquaintance, nodded in my direction, and said “He is.”

Jerry had been one of my bright friends freshman year in college. I had read Fountainhead and had started Atlas by first semester sophomore year. I talked with my friends about Rand’s ideas in those works. Jer was one of those kids who had graduated from high school with a 4.0 grade average on a 4.0 scale. He had read all kinds of English and American classic novels before coming to college. About the time I finished first reading Atlas, I had to drop out of school because I had no money. I worked at a detective agency, monitoring burglar alarms in my college town. Jer had begun to read Atlas, and one afternoon after his classes, he dropped by my office. When we had finished talking about whatever, as he was about to leave, he mentioned something about this Rand novel he had begun: “I like Dagny Taggart.” In all the years since, I remember that moment as if first seeing him, really seeing him.

When we read Rand’s novels in those days, we recognized ourselves in them. Sometimes I still hear young people say that, and it pleases me very much. I don’t mean necessarily that such readers identify with a particular single character. In the case of Jer and I, we did. It was not about being in the same existential circumstance of the character or having the same talent or ambitions. It was about psychology, about a style of mind and way of facing life. Independently of each other, and silently for several years, Jer and I each had our own identifications with a character and our own identification of each other with a character. The years later that we spoke of it, we found our identifications had matched completely. His was Francisco, mine John.

Post 3

Sunday, March 28, 2010 - 11:46amSanction this postReply

Next Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m. will be the Authors-Meet-Critics session for Essays on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. You can attend the session (GXIII-A) even if you are not a member of the American Philosophical Association. Go to the Mezzanine level of the Westin St. Francis, and tell them you want to purchase a special $10 ticket to attend a single session of the APA Meeting. They will let you know the room in which the ARS session will take place.

Registration will be open these hours:
Saturday 8:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
Friday 8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Thursday 8:30 a.m.–8:00 p.m.
Wednesday 11:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m.
(Expect long line on Wed., the first day of the APA Meeting)

For $90 one not a member of the American Philosophical Association can register, receive a badge, a book with session-locations, admission to any number of sessions, and discounts from many of the book vendors. Some sessions likely of interest to some readers here are these:

Wednesday, March 31

1:00–4:00 p.m.
Philosophy of Biology and Physics
“The Structure of the Quantum World” – Jill North
“I argue that the fundamental space of a (non-relativistic) quantum mechanical world is configuration space, even though this is a very high-dimensional space. For this is the space needed to define the dynamics of the theory. I argue from general considerations governing how we infer the fundamental space of any physical theory, to the conclusion that we should be realists about configuration space: we should think that this space exists, that it is fundamental, and that it has a definite, particular structure. Ordinary three-dimensional space exists, but it is non-fundamental. Instead, it emerges from fundamental configuration space. I argue for this view and compare it with some recent alternatives.”

“Contingency and Relative Significance Debates in Biology” – Andrew Margenot and Derek Turner

“Species, Genes, and the Tree of Life” – Joel Velasco
“The Tree of Life represents the genealogical history of life. But there are multiple levels of biological organization. Here I argue that while species-based genealogies are not helpful, there are two ways of understanding genealogy for phylogenetics—organism centric and gene centric. The organismal view reduces the history of species to the history of organisms. This naturally connects with viewing the Tree as representing the full network of organismal connections. The gene-centric view defines an exclusive group as a group of organisms that forms a clade for more of the genome than any conflicting clade. On this view, taxa occupy a unique position on the “primary concordance tree.” But each gene has its own historical “tree of life.” I conclude by arguing that both organismal and gene-centric view and their corresponding trees of life are objectively real and play important, but different, roles in biological practice.”

1:00–4:00 p.m.
Author-Meets-Critics: Henry Allison’s Custom and Reason in Hume, A Kantian Reading of the First Book of the Treatise
Critics: Lorne Falkenstein; Manfred Kuehn

4:00–6:00 p.m.
Feminism and Capitalism
“A Feminist Defense of Capitalism” – Ann Cudd
“An important feminist critique of capitalism is that it inevitably causes inequality. I argue that there is a vast middle ground between unfettered global capitalism and economic systems that either fail to engage with world trade or those that forcibly impose egalitarian solutions. Within this middle ground there is room for a progressive capitalism that minimizes inequality to a level that is morally acceptable, while still keeping the engine of innovation in gear. I will argue that this kind of capitalism is morally superior to its alternatives on three grounds. First, it promotes technical innovation that tends, in the medium run, to improve quality and length of life. Second, it truly maximizes freedom, taking into account both positive and negative aspects of freedom. Third, it reduces the oppression of traditional societies that impose hierarchies of gender and caste. In all three ways capitalism promotes a feminist definition of social progress.”

4:00–6:00 p.m.
“Spatial Content and Motoric Significance” – Robert Briscoe
“Do We Perceive Natural Kind Properties?” – Berit Brogaard

6:00–9:00 p.m.
“Scientific Modeling and Scientific Representation: The Peculiar Case of Applied Mathematics” – Otávio Bueno
“Singularities and Explanation” – Robert Batterman
“The Role of Mathematics in Scientific Modeling” – Jody Azzouni

Thursday, April 1

9:00 a.m. – Noon
Word and Object at 50
Speakers: Gary Ebb; Michael Friedman; James Higgenbotham

1:00–4:00 p.m.
What Is Attention?
Speakers: Christopher Mole; Michael Tye; Wayne Wu

4:00–6:00 p.m.
Author-Meets-Critics: Iain Morrisson’s Kant and the Role of Pleasure in Moral Motivation
Critics: Jeanine Greenberg; Holly Wilson

Friday, April 2

9:00 a.m.–Noon
Author-Meets-Critics: Judith Jarvis Thomson’s Normativity
Critics: Gilbert Harman; Thomas Scanlon; R. Jay Wallace

1:00–4:00 p.m.
Author Meets Critics: Charles Parson’s Mathematical Thought and Its Obects
Critics: John Burgess; Erich Reck; Richard Tieszen

1:00–4:00 p.m.
Classical Compatiblism
Speakers: Bernard Berofsky; Alfred Mele; Kadri Vihvelin; Randolph Clarke

4:00–6:00 p.m.
Author-Meets-Critics: Peter Godfrey-Smith’s Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection
Critics: James Griesemer; Matt Haber

7:00–10:00 p.m.
The Role of Abstraction in Causal-Mechanical Explanation
“Building and Explaining Mechanisms: Some Lessons on the Role of Abstraction” – Stuart Glennan
“Mechanisms and Difference Mechanisms” – James Tabery
“The Role of Abstraction in Generalizations about Mechanistic Phenomena” – Cory Wright
“Towards a Quantitative Theory of Idealization” – Michael Strevens

Saturday, April 3

9:00 a.m.–Noon
“Exploitation” – Allen Wood
“Exploitation and Neglect” – Matt Zwolinski
“Most of us think that those who exploit the vulnerable—who take unfair advantage of them—are committing a serious moral wrong. This judgment persists even when the exploitation is mutually beneficial—that is, even when it leaves both parties better off than they were prior to the transaction. We might also think that those who neglect the vulnerable—who simply ignore their needs—are doing something wrong. But we generally think that neglect is not as bad as exploitation. This is puzzling, since mutually beneficial exploitation does something to make the vulnerable better off, while neglect does not. This paper explores the comparative moral wrongness of exploitation and neglect, setting out the conditions under which the former is worse than the latter, and discussing the implications of this difference for practical moral problems such as those involved in sweatshops and price gouging.”

1:00–4:00 p.m.
Author-Meets-Critics: John Carriero’s Between Two Worlds: A Reading of Descartes’ Meditiations
Critics: Dennis Des Chene; Alan Nelson

6:00–9:00 p.m
Authors-Meet-Critics: Essays on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged
Critics: Christine Swanton; Lester Hunt; William Glod

(Edited by Stephen Boydstun on 3/28, 1:50pm)

Post 4

Sunday, May 16, 2010 - 6:15amSanction this postReply

The title of Lester Hunt’s paper for the 2010 Pacific Division session of the Ayn Rand Society is “Dagny’s Motivation.” One question he pursues is why Dagny chooses Galt as her lover and life-companion for the rest of her days, rather than Francisco or Rearden. Allan Gotthelf had offered reasons for Dagny’s choice in Essays on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged in his essay “A Note on Dagny’s ‘Final Choice’.”

In his “Final Choice” essay, Gotthelf puts before the reader a sequence of passages from Atlas. The first is Readen, having surmised that during the month she was MIA Dagny has been swept away by someone new, he says to her: You have met “the man you love, and if love means one’s final, irreplaceable choice, then he is the only man you’ve ever loved” (AS 860).

(I’ll interject, concerning that phrase “the only man you’ve ever loved,” that somewhere in Freud’s writings he maintains that each woman had by a man is symbolic of singular WOMAN to him. I personally have no consciousness of such a unitary MAN in my romantic experience. The first love of my life died. I later learned I could have a second. Two in my life loved me totally, but they are simply separate and distinct, at least to my consciousness.

I’ll note also a passage in The Fountainhead related to the one above from Atlas and to the Freud idea. Dominique marries Gail Wynand, a man she loves, after an affair with the love of her life, an affair so torrid the cops had likely received calls from the neighbors. In bed with Gail on their wedding night: “She felt the answer in her body, an answer of hunger, of acceptance, of pleasure. She thought that it was not a matter of desire, not even a matter of the sexual act, but only that man was the life force and woman could respond to nothing else [times have changed!]; that this man had the will of life, the prime power, and this act was only its simplest statement, and she was responding not to the act nor to the man, but to that force within him” [GW VII 517]. There may be some shimming going on here to finesse the complex plot of this novel, but, on the other hand, I recall that extra babies were made in the US right after the attack of 9/11/01.)

Gotthelf then puts before the reader the sublime passage in which Dagny awakens from her crash landing in the Colorado Rockies, awakens to daylight and the face of John Galt over her. Gotthelf follows with the scene earlier in Atlas in which young Dagny is working at an isolated railroad switching station, thinking of a mythic man at the distant convergence of the rails, and longing “to find a consciousness like her own, who would be the meaning of her world, as she would be of his” (AS 220).

He then quotes Rand’s remark on the nature of romantic love in her 1966 essay “Philosophy and Sense of Life.” (I have noticed that the phrase “sense of life” is used already by Rand in Fountainhead. Dominique uses it in speaking to her husband Gail, speaking of having unexpectedly given him a certain “special sense of living . . . . the sense of life as exaltation” [GW IX 538].) In that essay, Rand remarks that in romantic love one falls in love with a person’s sense of life, “with that essential sum, that fundamental stand or way of facing existence, which is the essence of a personality. One falls in love with the embodiment of the values that formed a person’s character, which are reflected in his widest goals or smallest gestures, which create the style of his soul—the individual style of a unique, unrepeatable, irreplaceable consciousness. It is one’s own sense of life that acts as the selector, and responds to what it recognizes as one’s own basic values in the person of another” (Rand 1966, 32). (I note that in Fountainhead we find the idea of different characters having uniquely individual style, analogous to individual styles of building designs.* The notion that one’s character can have style is from Nietzsche.) Prof. Gotthelf then identifies, following the text of Atlas, Dagny’s “essential sum” and “fundamental way of facing existence.” He identifies the basic values that “she recognizes in the person of Galt, values that ‘are reflected in his widest goals [and] smallest gestures’, which create the very ‘style of his soul’” (Gotthelf 2007, 455).

In Prof. Hunt’s paper, he maintains that Gotthelf succeeds in his case for why Galt, rather than Rearden, is Dagny’s final choice. I concur. Gotthelf has one nice sentence that wins me over. “The unalloyed character of the qualities she loves is central to the man at the end of the tracks, and to her response to Galt” (Gotthelf 2007, 460). Rearden in the end is a fine alloy with traces of past pain and guilt.

Hunt argues that Gotthelf’s case for why Dagny chooses Galt over Francisco fails. He thinks that Gotthelf relies on Galt’s particular achievements to explain Dagny’s preference for him over Francisco. He points out that Rand, in 1967, wrote against the idea that in romantic love one falls in love with a person’s achievements. Rather, one fall’s in love with their character. “One loves that in his character that makes him capable of achieving” (Rand 1967, 12). Hunt did not think Galt’s personal character to be relevantly different from Francisco’s for sustaining Dagny’s choice.

Hunt sells Gotthelf’s account short in taking its appeal, in the Galt-Francisco contest, to rest on a shift from character to achievement. Hunt thinks of Dagny’s mythic man at the end of the railroad tracks as representing capabilities that make human well-being possible. Galt is a representation of those capabilities possessed in superlative degree. Hunt sees that. Allan and Lester had an insightful exchange back and forth in their papers. (I was unable to attend the conference; I have Lester’s paper and Allan’s reply.) Allan stresses particularities in the match between Dagny’s mythic man where the rails meet and the character John Galt. It seems to me that Lester does not sense the level of personal excitement induced in Dagny by a mind that could create the new motor. She is already in love with that mind, the way one could love a god, before she meets the motor’s inventor (cf.). Given that John’s face and bearing and actions are harmonious with that searing mind, for her henceforth, he alone.

It was a delight to learn, in Allan’s rejoinder to Lester’s paper, that his personal second-favorite in Atlas is John. He gives a number of reasons for this character being a personal favorite. His first-place favorite character in the novel is Dagny.


Gotthelf, A. 2007. A Note on Dagny’s “Final Choice.” In Essays on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. R. Mayhew, editor. Lexington.

Rand, A. 1943. The Fountainhead. Bobbs-Merrill.
——. 1957. Atlas Shrugged. Random House.
——. 1966. Philosophy and Sense of Life. In The Romantic Manifesto. 1971. Signet.
——. 1967. An Answer to Readers. The Objectivist 6(2):12.


Kommt der neue Gott gegangen,
Hingegeben sind wir stumm.

Post 5

Friday, May 21, 2010 - 6:26pmSanction this postReply
> why Dagny chooses Galt as her lover and life-companion for the rest of her days, rather than Francisco or Rearden [Post #4]

Stephen, this is an enormously interesting subject, unlike many others which have been discussed numerous times. Gotthelf's original paper has been published. What about Hunt's critique and G's rebuttal?

I would -love- to read them and think about them.

Post 6

Sunday, May 23, 2010 - 9:13amSanction this postReply
Hi Phil,

Prof. Hunt’s paper and Prof. Gotthelf’s response have been distributed only to ARS members and contributors and (if everything went according to Hoyle) to people who attended the session. If you email Hunt and Gotthelf directly, each might be willing to send you a copy of his contribution to the session. I will try to give a glimpse into some of the other papers and replies in subsequent posts to this thread.

I have been enjoying greatly all four of the collections, edited by Robert Mayhew, in the series Essays on Ayn Rand’s . . ..

The Eastern Division Meeting of the APA this December will be in Boston. I don’t know if it would be feasible for you to travel there, but you might want to visit the ARS website and become a contributor ($) for the coming academic year in order to receive the papers for the Boston session. Prof. Gotthelf has reported that Travis Norsen, “a physicist with interests in the foundations of quantum theory and the history and philosophy of science generally, will speak about the historical development of the concept ‘temperature’ and its implications for epistemology and in particular the theory of concepts. . . . Professor Norsen will highlight several respects in which Ayn Rand’s theory of concepts uniquely conforms to and sheds light on the growth of scientific knowledge.” One of the commentators will be James Lennox. A second commentator remains to be confirmed.

I’m really looking forward to this topic, as you might expect.* In preparation, I have gotten hold of Inventing Temperature: Measurement and Scientific Progress by Hasok Chang (Oxford 2004).

I have appreciated the tremendous work Allan Gotthelf has done to foster the growth of Objectivist scholarship. I follow his work in ancient philosophy too, and I’m looking forward to the festschrift for him in that area, presently in preparation by a collection of internationally renowned scholars.


Post 7

Sunday, May 23, 2010 - 5:04pmSanction this postReply
> I will try to give a glimpse into some of the other papers and replies in subsequent posts to this thread.

Thanks, Stephen. That would be great!

I'm going to assume the work on temperature is going to be closely related to how to do induction in physics.

As far as paying the $30 annual fee and membership, I normally wait until I've read a few 'sample' essays that would whet my appetite and prove to me that the scholars are saying things that I find cogent and well-reasoned as I've read things before from scholars with an Oist interest which have not been up to snuff in my view. The same would apply before I would buy one of Tara Smith's books. I haven't yet seen essays or pieces of hers, so I don't know her intellectual quality or lack thereof. I've read Gotthelf's "On Ayn Rand" and well as Tibor Machan's book and in each there were things that impressed me and things that didn't. Knowing a lot about Objectivism, they have to be telling me a significant number of things I don't know or haven't already thought of, or connections to issues in academe that would seem important to me and I'd have no way of knowing about otherwise**. I don't necessarily need to read things for free, but I have to be quite interested in the thinkers before I will spend time and money.

Especially as I'm busy this summer preparing for courses I will be teaching in the fall. In due course, I want to read "Essays on Atlas Shrugged" in particular (especially to see Gotthelf's preliminary arguments for Galt as romantic figure over Francisco which I'm not not at all in agreement with at present.)

**I would for example like to read some of what Gotthelf has written on Aristotle which is not either obvious to an Objectivist or which one does not have to spend months burrowing thru academese or specialized journals to find.

(Edited by Philip Coates on 5/23, 5:08pm)

Post 8

Monday, May 24, 2010 - 7:00amSanction this postReply
What I've seen of Gotthelf's writings on Aristotle is all of the latter sort.

Post 9

Monday, May 31, 2010 - 4:59amSanction this postReply

To be issued in November:

That will be a nice complement to:

(Edited by Stephen Boydstun on 5/31, 5:04am)

Post 10

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - 7:01pmSanction this postReply

The 2010 session of the Ayn Rand Society I noted in #6 has been cancelled.
Dr. Norsen’s paper is expected to be the topic for ARS at the APA Eastern Division Meeting in December 2011.

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Post 11

Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - 9:04amSanction this postReply
Dr. Norsen’s paper is expected to be the topic for ARS at the APA Eastern Division Meeting in December 2011.

The paper is already available online here.

Post 12

Monday, November 22, 2010 - 7:57amSanction this postReply

Being, Nature, and Life in Aristotle (#9) has now been issued in the UK. It is due in the USA in December.

From the publisher (CUP):
    This volume of essays explores major connected themes in Aristotle's metaphysics, philosophy of nature, and ethics, especially themes related to essence, definition, teleology, activity, potentiality, and the highest good. The volume is united by the belief that all aspects of Aristotle's work need to be studied together if any one of the areas of thought is to be fully understood. Many of the papers were contributions to a conference at the University of Pittsburgh entitled 'Being, Nature, and Life in Aristotle', to honor Professor Allan Gotthelf's many contributions to the field of ancient philosophy; a few are contributions from those who were invited but could not attend. The contributors, all longstanding friends of Professor Gotthelf, are among the most accomplished scholars in the field of ancient philosophy today.

Table of Contents

1. Teleology, Platonic and Aristotelian – David Sedley
2. Biology and Metaphysics in Aristotle – Robert Bolton

3. The Unity and Purpose of On the Parts of Animals I – James G. Lennox
4. An Aristotelian Puzzle about Definition: Metaphysics Z.12 – Alan Code
5. Unity of Definition in Metaphysics H.6 and Z.12 – Mary Louise Gill
6. Definition in Aristotle's Posterior Analytics – Pierre Pellegrin
7. Male and Female in Aristotle's Generation of Animals – Aryeh Kosman
8. Metaphysics Θ. 7 and 8: Some Issues Concerning Actuality and Potentiality – David Charles
9. Where Is the Activity? – Sarah Broadie
10. Political Community and the Highest Good – John M. Cooper
Publications of Allan Gotthelf.

Post 13

Monday, November 22, 2010 - 5:03pmSanction this postReply
That should be said of all philosophers, that all aspects of their work needs be studied as parts of the whole, not out of context as alone...

Post 14

Sunday, June 19, 2011 - 7:56pmSanction this postReply

I mentioned in #6 that the December 2010 meeting of the Ayn Rand Society would center on a paper by Travis Norsen.
    Travis Norsen, “a physicist with interests in the foundations of quantum theory and the history and philosophy of science generally, will speak about the historical development of the concept ‘temperature’ and its implications for epistemology and in particular the theory of concepts. . . . Professor Norsen will highlight several respects in which Ayn Rand’s theory of concepts uniquely conforms to and sheds light on the growth of scientific knowledge.” One of the commentators will be James Lennox. A second commentator remains to be confirmed.

    I’m really looking forward to this topic, as you might expect.* In preparation, I have gotten hold of Inventing Temperature: Measurement and Scientific Progress by Hasok Chang (Oxford 2004).
That session had to be cancelled, but has now been rescheduled for April 2012 at the Pacific Division Meeting of the APA in Seattle. It will have been worth the wait, for the second commentator is to be none other than Hasok Chang.

(Edited by Stephen Boydstun on 6/19, 8:01pm)

Post 15

Monday, December 5, 2011 - 7:56amSanction this postReply

In the Jowett translation of Plato’s Apology, we find Socrates saying: “I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from virtue comes money and every other good of man, public as well as private” (30b). At the meeting of the American Philosophical Association this coming February in Chicago, Gregory Salmieri will present a paper on that passage. His title is “Does Virtue Make Money or Make It Good?”

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Post 16

Sunday, March 4, 2012 - 8:59amSanction this postReply
Coming soon:

Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle’s Biology
Allan Gotthelf (Oxford 2012)

Table of Contents

Post 17

Sunday, March 4, 2012 - 6:24pmSanction this postReply
Ooooooooh, this looks goooooooood!



Post 18

Monday, March 5, 2012 - 8:37pmSanction this postReply
Wow, thankyou Stephen!

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Post 19

Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - 7:50amSanction this postReply
Forthcoming in 2013:

Ayn Rand: A Companion to Her Works and Thought
Gotthelf and Salmieri, editors (Wiley-Blackwell)

Concepts, Induction, and the Growth of Scientific Knowledge
Gotthelf and Burian*

Ayn Rand and Aristotle: Philosophical and Historical Studies
Ayn Rand Society Philosophical Studies No. 3.
Gotthelf and Lennox, editors (Pittsburgh)

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