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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, and aspects of reality. The philosopher must unite “two opposed and not easily combinable faculties: the highest degree of abstract thinking and a high degree of concrete contemplation of reality” (402). In Lossky’s view, however, people have not developed these faculties to the degree required for the truly stupendous tasks of the examined life. That many opposing schools of philosophy exist illustrates that philosophy is at a much more primitive level of development than either mathematics or physics (403). But for Lossky, philosophy was paving the way for a more unified, nondualistic conception of being and knowing. Though Rand rejected much of the content of Lossky’s philosophy, her own system retained an exhaustive and dialectical form that reflected her Russian roots. Just as significant, however, was Rand’s profound respect for philosophy as essential to human being. Like her teacher, Rand perpetuated a distinctive tradition of philosophizing that stretched back to the days of the ancient Greeks. For Rand, it was the culture of classical antiquity that marked the beginning of humankind’s intellectual maturity. The classical thinkers contributed to humanity the very concept of philosophy as a secular discipline in which the mind strove to achieve “a comprehensive view of existence.” Rand believed that this authentic, nonreligious commitment being 116 being  117 to the examined life was rarely duplicated in the history of thought: “The grandeur, the reverence, the exalted purity, the austere dedication to the pursuit of truth, which are commonly associated with religion, should properly belong to the field of philosophy. Aristotle lived up to it and, in part, so did Plato, Aquinas, Spinoza—but how many others?”1 Like her teacher, Rand argued that philosophy requires the greatest­ level of abstraction and concretization, “the integration of factual data, the maintenance of a full context, the discovery of principles, the establishment of causal connections and thus the implementation of a long-range vision” (108). Every aspect of Rand’s thought—from her social ontology to her politics—concentrates on the specifically conceptual nature and needs of ­ human consciousness. Like most systematic visions, Rand’s Objectivism cannot be fully appreciated until it is grasped as a totality. No totality, however, can be presented as such. Peikoff argues correctly that the whole can only be examined through the parts. Every part of a philosophical system implies both the whole and every other part.2 Furthermore, Peikoff understands that Objectivism is structured as an internally related system, such that any “change in one element redounds throughout the network.” Indeed, for Peikoff, as for Rand, Objectivism mirrors the very interrelationships that are present in existence and knowledge. Peikoff maintains: “Human knowledge on every level is relational. Knowledge is not a juxtaposition of independent items; it is a unity . . . a total, a sum, a single whole.” The relational character of knowledge is a reflection of the metaphysical fact that “there is only one universe .” In the universe, “everything . . . is interconnected.” Peikoff writes: Every entity is related in some way to the others; each somehow affects and is affected by the others. Nothing is a completely isolated fact, without causes or effects; no aspect of the total can exist ultimately apart from the total. Knowledge, therefore, which seeks to grasp reality , must also be a total; its elements must be interconnected to form a unified whole reflecting the whole which is the universe.3 Peikoff stresses also that no mind can disregard the relationships among its contents because the discovery of such relationships is inherent in the identity of consciousness. Thus every tenet of a philosophy, just like every aspect of knowledge, “must be judged in the light of the total picture, i.e., of the full context.” Since every element of knowledge “is potentially relevant to the rest,” a genuinely integrated philosophy must transcend fragmentation and subdivision . Peikoff (1991b, 125) suggests that Rand’s achievement lies partially in her methodical consistency within the context of available knowledge. 118 ayn rand Ultimately, then, one cannot analyze any of Rand’s isolated philosophical insights by disconnecting them from the corpus of her thought. Taken together, each part generates and is generated by the...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780271061214
Related ISBN
9780271062273
MARC Record
OCLC
860712160
Pages
496
Launched on MUSE
2013-11-04
Language
English
Open Access
No
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