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Ayn Rand

The Russian Radical

By Chris Matthew Sciabarra

Publication Year: 2013

Author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand (1905–1982) is one of the most widely read philosophers of the twentieth century. Yet, despite the sale of over thirty million copies of her works, there have been few serious scholarly examinations of her thought. Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical provides a comprehensive analysis of the intellectual roots and philosophy of this controversial thinker. It has been nearly twenty years since the original publication of Chris Sciabarra’s Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. Those years have witnessed an explosive increase in Rand sightings across the social landscape: in books on philosophy, politics, and culture; in film and literature; and in contemporary American politics, from the rise of the Tea Party to recent presidential campaigns. During this time Sciabarra continued to work toward the reclamation of the dialectical method in the service of a radical libertarian politics, culminating in his book Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism (Penn State, 2000). In this new edition of Ayn Rand, Chris Sciabarra adds two chapters that present in-depth analysis of the most complete transcripts to date documenting Rand’s education at Petrograd State University. A new preface places the book in the context of Sciabarra’s own research and the recent expansion of interest in Rand’s philosophy. Finally, this edition includes a postscript that answers a recent critic of Sciabarra’s historical work on Rand. Shoshana Milgram, Rand’s biographer, has tried to cast doubt on Rand’s own recollections of having studied with the famous Russian philosopher N. O. Lossky. Sciabarra shows that Milgram’s analysis fails to cast doubt on Rand’s recollections—or on Sciabarra’s historical thesis.

Published by: Penn State University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

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pp. iii-v

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface to the Second Edition

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pp. ix-xii

Nearly twenty years ago, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical was published. In its wake came much controversy and discussion,1 which greatly influenced the course of my research in subsequent years. In 1999, I co-edited, with Mimi Reisel Gladstein, Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand, part of the Pennsylvania State University Press series on Re-Reading the Canon, ...

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pp. xiii-xv

This book is the product of many years of research and dialogue. I owe a debt of gratitude to many individuals. For their constructive comments on my earlier article, “Ayn Rand’s Critique of Ideology”: Walter Block, the late Roy Childs, Douglas Den Uyl, Howard Dickman, Antony Flew, Jeff Friedman, Robert Hessen, Robert Hollinger, Greg Johnson, Don Lavoie, ....

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pp. 1-19

Ayn Rand is one of the most widely read philosophers of the twentieth century. Yet despite the sale of nearly thirty million copies of her works, and their translation into many languages (Landrum 1994, 302),1 there have been few book-length, scholarly examinations of her thought. This is hardly surprising since academics have often dismissed her “Objectivist” ideas as “pop” ...

Part One: The Process of Becoming

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p. 21-21

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Chapter 1: Synthesis in Russian Culture

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pp. 22-38

In her autobiography The Italics Are Mine (1992), Nina Berberova, one of the most important writers in twentieth-century Russian literature, describes a struggle that is at once profoundly personal and profoundly suggestive of the Russian character. She describes “one of the most important themes of [her] inner life,” as she aims for the “fusing of opposites” in her ...

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Chapter 2: Lossky, the Teacher

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pp. 39-61

No study of Rand’s Objectivism would be complete without a consideration of the life and thought of N. O. Lossky, her philosophy professor at Petrograd University. The relationship between these two is of paramount historical importance because it was probably Lossky who introduced Rand to dialectical methods of analysis. It has been said that Rand ...

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Chapter 3: Educating Alissa

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pp. 62-89

In 1945, Rand wrote: When I am questioned about myself, I am tempted to say, paraphrasing Roark [the protagonist of The Fountainhead]: “Don’t ask me about my family, my childhood, my friends or my feelings. Ask me about the things I think.” It is the content of a person’s brain, not the accidental details of his life, that determines ...

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Chapter 4: The Maturation of Ayn Rand

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pp. 90-114

Not long after her arrival in America, Alissa Rosenbaum renamed herself Ayn Rand. In her early writings, she engages in a concerted effort to understand and critique polarities she had confronted in the Russia of her youth. She focuses primarily on the dialectical unity of religion and statism. She gropes toward a philosophical synthesis that rejects faith and force, but ...

Part Two: The Revolt Against Dualism

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p. 115-115

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Chapter 5: Being

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pp. 116-142

N. O. Lossky (1951) once wrote: “Philosophy is a science and therefore, like every other science, it seeks to establish truths that have been strictly proved and are therefore binding for every thinking being and not only for a particular people or nation.” Operating at the highest level of generality, the philosopher traces the interconnections between the entities, elements, ...

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Chapter 6: Knowing

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pp. 143-166

In conjunction with her view that philosophy is not a deductive system, Rand based her theory of knowledge on observation and induction.1 Rand refused to rewrite reality; she rejected any attempt to force facts into a preconceived conceptual scheme.2 She constructed an epistemological theory that drew from her understanding of the history of knowledge, mathematics, and ...

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Chapter 7: Reason and Emotion

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pp. 167-188

In recent studies of Rand’s philosophy, little attention is paid to her reflections on psychology. Peikoff’s systematic presentation of Objectivism, for instance, is purely and self-consciously philosophical; he avoids, on principle, any discussion of the extensive implications for psychology of Rand’s epistemology and ethics (Peikoff 1990–91T, lecture 13). Merrill (1991, 179) ...

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Chapter 8: Art, Philosophy, and Efficacy

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pp. 189-214

Throughout Rand’s writings, one can find a persistent emphasis on the process by which human beings articulate the tacit dimensions of consciousness. This theme is implicit in Rand’s theories of concept formation and emotion. The concept formation process is largely dependent on an act of measurement omission, which takes place in the mind whether people ...

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Chapter 9: Ethics and Human Survival

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pp. 215-247

Rand’s ethics is a direct application of her theory of knowledge. In her emphasis on the centrality of reason, Rand enunciates both an epistemological and normative principle. If reason is how we gain knowledge, it is simultaneously how we (as human beings) survive. That is, we should use our rational faculty if we choose to live. In Rand’s ethics, life, as an ultimate ...

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Chapter 10: A Libertarian Politics

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pp. 248-274

In this chapter I examine Rand’s libertarian politics as an outgrowth of her ontology, epistemology, and ethics, the culminating moment of a nondualistic philosophical totality. She aimed to transcend the polarities between anarchism and statism, atomistic individualism and organic collectivism. She defended laissez-faire capitalism as the only social formation ...

Part Three: The Radical Rand

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p. 275-275

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Chapter 11: Relations of Power

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pp. 276-306

The synthesis of theory and practice has been one of the most significant themes in the history of Russian thought. Nearly every great Russian writer embraced a critical praxis as the central, motivating task of philosophy. Theoretical contemplation was considered incomplete and one-dimensional; it required consummation in the quest for truth-justice (iskaniye pravdy). This ...

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Chapter 12: The Predatory State

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pp. 307-332

On Level 3 of her analysis, Rand focused on the relations of power as mediated through statist structures and processes. She emphasized the role of the predatory state in perpetuating social dualism and fragmentation. She recognized that power relations at this level simultaneously incorporate and depend on the interpersonal and cultural conditions she explored on ...

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Chapter 13: History and Resolution

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pp. 333-358

Ayn Rand’s philosophical project comprises successive negative and positive moments of inquiry. It began as a historically constituted critique of the Russian duality of religion and statism. It embraced a positive synthesis, seeking to transcend false alternatives by integrating categories traditionally kept separate and distinct. Given her critical view of dualism and her ...

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pp. 359-362

Some of you may know the story of the four travelers who on a moonless night chanced upon an elephant and came away separately convinced that it was very like a snake, a leaf, a wall, a rope. Not one could persuade any other to change his mind, for each had touched a different part. Not one could resolve their differences for none of them knew the entire ....

Appendix I: The Rand Transcript (1999)

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pp. 363-380

Appendix II: The Rand Transcript, Revisited (2005)

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pp. 381-391

Appendix III: A Challenge to Russian Radical—and Ayn Rand (2013)

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pp. 393-399


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pp. 401-468


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pp. 469-488


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pp. 489-526


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p. 544-544

E-ISBN-13: 9780271061214
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271062273
Print-ISBN-10: 0271062274

Page Count: 496
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: Second Edition