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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) indicates his own unwillingness to discuss these aspects of Rand’s thought because their “status” in Objectivist literature is somewhat uncertain. Such themes as “psycho-epistemology,” “the psychology of self-esteem,” and­ “social metaphysics” were a theoretical outgrowth of Rand’s interaction with her chief intellectual protégé, Nathaniel Branden, prior to their break in 1968. Since that time, many of these important issues have been left largely unexplored. Merrill correctly notes that Rand never repudiated the pre-1968 ­ writings of Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden. Because Rand refused to­ sanction any of their later work, however, Objectivist scholars have been­ reluctant to deal with the Brandens’ contributions. However, I believe that it is as legitimate to examine the works of the Brandens as those of Binswanger, Kelley, Peikoff, and other Objectivists and neo-Objectivists. Each owes an enormous intellectual debt to Rand. One cannot possibly assess the intellectual implications and historical impact of Objectivism without discussing the contributions of others whom Rand directly influenced . Indeed, in several instances where Rand’s initial formulations were one-sided, her successors have developed a more comprehensive response to dualism that is completely consistent with Objectivist philosophy. reason and emotion 167 168 ayn rand In this chapter I explore themes in Rand’s philosophical psychology, particularly those pertaining to the relationship between reason and emotion. Peikoff (1972T, lecture 1) once defined “philosophical psychology” as the theoretical application of metaphysics and epistemology to human nature. “Philosophical psychology” considers those topics in epistemology which have implications for psychology. It deals with the intersection between philosophy and psychology, and further illuminates the radical antidualism of Rand’s Objectivism. the nature of emotions Accepting Aristotle’s definition of human beings as “rational animals,” Rand did not reduce human “being” to rationality and animality. The definition serves the need for unit economy by isolating an essential characteristic distinguishing the human from the nonhuman. But such a definition does not capture the full complexity of the existent. In any study of the totality of human nature, it is important to consider both those aspects that are essential and those which are not essential to the definition. Hence, to define human beings as rational animals is not to deny that they have emotions. fig. 7 Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden in the mid-1950s. (Courtesy of Nathaniel Branden) reason and emotion  169 For Rand, reason is an essential characteristic because it helps to ­ explain seemingly nonrational aspects of human nature. In Rand’s view, ­ human beings have an emotional capacity that is largely dependent on their­ distinctive rational character. Whereas any dog or cat can experience a “feeling ” arising from associational perceptions, only humans are capable of experiencing emotions that are the complex product of their conceptual awareness.1 Rand did not consider emotions to be primaries. They are not tools of cognition; they are not instruments for the acquisition of knowledge. They must be clearly distinguished from thought, even if they are a component of consciousness (New Intellectual, 55). For Rand, emotions are the “automatic result” of value judgments previously integrated by the subconscious mind. They are lightning-like estimates “of that which furthers man’s values or threatens them, that which is for him or against him.”2 In Rand’s epistemology, reason is as basic as “existence” is in her ontology . Just as consciousness is asymmetrically internal to existence, so, too, is emotion asymmetrically dependent on the rational faculty for its content, even though it has reciprocal effects on mind and body. Those who would stress the primacy of consciousness or of emotion inevitably embrace a form of subjectivism or emotionalism that denies objectivity in cognition. Rand’s emphasis on the primacy of existence and the centrality of reason does not nullify either consciousness or emotion. Rand argued that consciousness is the faculty of perceiving that which exists; it cannot be in conflict with existence. So, too, reason is the human means of knowledge ; it is not, properly, in conflict with emotion. From her very earliest philosophical reflections, Rand rejected the view that reason and emotion were natural antagonists. Rand saw the dichotomy between the heart and the mind as a...

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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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