Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Philosophy: Who Needs It by Ayn Rand

Title: Philosophy: Who needs it
Author: Ayn Rand
Publisher: Signet, 1984

While I’m a big fan of Ayn Rand’s works I am, by equal measure, aware of the fact that she can and does froth a little when she hits particular topics. While my own knowledge of philosophy is still very sketchy at best, I did find this slim volume to be a somewhat useful supplement to her other titles that I’ve read, though don’t feel as if this collection of essays covered any fresh ground.

She examines why we need philosophy (of course we do) and the realisation that this is an integral part of our existence if we are to live rational, moral lives. Most importantly she stands for taking pride in one’s own labours and not settling for anything less than the best.

She makes a big deal about freedom, and personal freedom to think and trade as one wishes without feeling ashamed of one’s strengths. Also, that one should deal with truths and that which is, instead of that which one imagines something *should* be.

Mostly, Rand encourages people to think for themselves without blindly following conventions, and to encourage the development and application to reason. She advocates intellectual honesty – in admitting what one knows and what one does not know, then working from there. She advocates sticking to one’s convictions and looking at living a life that has integrity on a basic level. And not, thankfully, to proselytise.

She is harshly critical of some of the philosophic and political efforts of her day, and it’s somewhat frightening to see how some of her observations are very much apt for this day and age.

I agree that Rand is not the be-all and end-all of philosophy, but she still makes some very valid points which are still useful. That being said… I still need to broaden my reading tastes to encompass other philosophers, so I’ll hold back from the Kant-bashing the way Rand does it for now!


  1. I, too, am a fan of Rand's work - mostly because of things you mention - not being afraid to tell someone you are good at something, and not belittling yourself so that you don't make someone else feel bad. You will find, I'm afraid, that the Internet will now gang up on you for liking her because she wrote Roark - who is such a perfect example of a man treating women badly - but the core of her work, to me, just irritates people who don't want to feel inferior in areas where they clearly are.

    1. My feeling on Rand is simple: I take what I feel is useful and disregard the parts I disagree with. I've had a fair amount of folks put the hate on me for my admiration of Rand's ideas. I don't really care much for their opinions. Opinions are like bungholes, we all have one.