Nathaniel BRANDEN, Pt. II

Q: In your earlier lectures, you had many fascinating things to say about masculinity and femininity, and yet you barely touched on those concepts in The Psychology of Romantic Love. You wouldn’t consider addressing these concepts again in some future book?

Branden: I’ve learned never to say never, but I doubt it. Not that the issue doesn’t interest me; a lot of issues interest me. Right now a lot of research is being conducted in this area. Let’s wait and see what turns up.

I sometimes wish there could be a twenty-year moratorium on the words “masculinity” and “femininity,” and, during the same period, a far greater emphasis placed on self-acceptance. If we were all as honestly accepting of our natural inclinations as we knew how to be, without concern about cultural stereotypes of what was “appropriate,” I think we would see patterns of difference between males and females. I have strong opinions about what some of those patterns would be. But it would be interesting to let the evidence accumulate and speak for itself.

Many feminists, of course, have an agenda in this area, and wish on political principle to deny any significant differences between the sexes except the obvious physical ones. They want to insist it’s all a matter of culture and upbringing. I think reality is against them. Which doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty wrong with traditional sex roles. However, I think it’s foolish to imagine that our physical differences do not result in any psychological differences, at least as tendencies.

As an interesting aside, a psychological study isolated a group of men and women who by their peers were judged to be highly creative individuals. They gave this group a battery of tests and what they found was that creative men tended to exhibit a high number of traits the world calls feminine, and that the women manifested a high number of the traits that the world calls masculine. That doesn’t mean that the men were effeminate and the women were butch. But they seemed to have more of the traits commonly associated with the opposite sex.

I have an explanation for this, which is the following: highly creative people are at least in some respects more independent than the average person; they are much more attentive to their internal signals, and because of this, they are less likely to block off or disown pieces of themselves that don’t fit cultural stereotypes.

Q: There’s a lot of talk in psychology about the difference between men and women’s attitude toward sex and relationships—that when a man is younger all he thinks about is “nailing” a girl and all the girl thinks about is getting married. This is quite a conflict! What would you say to teenagers about viewing their sex lives, and understanding the other sex’s very different goals?

Branden: If we were more accepting of our own sexuality, and the sexuality of the opposite gender, I don’t think we so readily fall into adversarial postures. I think we could be more open and honest about our feelings.

I suspect we should not be so prone to treat each other as “objects.” Males tend to treat females as sex objects and females tend to treat males as success objects (to borrow a phrase from my friend Warren Farrell, author of a marvelous book on this subject, The Myth of Male Power). Just as lots of men like to “nail” (using your word) sex objects, lots of women like to “nail” success objects. We don’t relate as human beings. Alienation from the self inevitably leads to alienation from the other.

Q: One area where we’ve seen some evolution in your views is the issue of homosexuality. How did you see homosexuality in the past, how do you see it today, and why?

Branden: Today it seems clear that there is more than one kind of homosexuality—by which I mean there is evidence that in some instances people are born with this orientation, whereas in other instances it is learned, acquired during the course of development, and in other instances still, it is situational, as with people in prisons. Different explanations are needed, rather than treating all cases as the same.

In the past I described homosexuality as a developmental problem, which I think it is sometimes, but not always, not necessarily, so I prefer to avoid generalizations. Until much more is understood than is understood at present, I prefer to say nothing on the subject, especially since this is a field in which I am not a specialist or expert.

The only exception I will make is that I am convinced it is a major error to treat homosexuality as a moral issue. If I ever implied or conveyed anything to the contrary, I profoundly regret it.

Q: You’ve also conveyed that Rand did her admirers a disservice by her own moralistic pronouncements about homosexuality. What’s your perspective on this?

Branden: By treating homosexuality as a moral problem, all that is accomplished is to fill people with guilt for something about which most of them can do nothing. Now in therapy, if someone comes to me and insists that he or she genuinely wants to change from a homosexual to a heterosexual orientation, sometimes I am able to help, without judging the client’s choice, one way or the other. However, if a homosexual wishes to work on other problems and does not raise the issue of sexual orientation as an issue, I do not try to change his or her mind.

Ayn had the habit, unfortunately, of flinging moral pronouncements about which she had no knowledge to support her verdicts. So did I, at times. Not a good idea.

Q: After one lives with bad habits for 20 years, how does one change? Your books suggest sentence-completion work, but that doesn’t seem to be a very complete technology.

Branden: I have never suggested that sentence-completion work alone is a complete technology, although often it is a powerful force for change, as many people have discovered. Apart from the clinical practice I get a good deal of mail from readers who do the sentence-completion exercises I recommend in my books, and they report electrifying changes.

But in addition I do many, many other things—from various forms of psychodrama, to working with subpersonalities, to guided fantasy, to techniques adapted from Neuro-Linguistic Programming, to working with the person’s energy system, to all kinds of homework assignments, and so forth. What I do is much too complex to explain in an interview.

Q: Among the various movements in psychology and therapy what do you think of the “Iron John” movement? I had a friend who went through it, and I was very impressed with the things he told me. I was intrigued by their techniques of destroying a man’s false pride and helping him find to whom he relinquished his masculinity.

Branden: I’ve never read or met Robert Bly (author of Iron John), and I know only a little about the work he does. I can’t say it strikes much resonance in me but I do know men who find it enormously helpful, and I don’t dismiss that.

For many historical reasons, there’s great confusion today about what constitutes “masculinity” and “manhood.” Many of the old models no longer seem relevant. I see the issue as one of self-acceptance—forget social stereotypes. I’m convinced that if men have the courage to connect with the deepest parts of ourselves, they will discover their “masculinity,” just as women will discover their “femininity.”

Q: Do you think teenagers should experiment with sex or are they too immature to deal with such a complex issue, not to mention the problem of disease and pregnancy? At what age (generally) should a young person decide to have sex and under what conditions?

Branden: It’s not so much a matter of age as of psychological maturity. One can’t properly answer this question merely in terms of age.

The principle is, when people act, at any age, they need to know what they are doing, they need to operate consciously, and they need to be able and willing to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions. This clearly excludes girls who get pregnant at 14 and the boys who impregnate them. But let’s assume a young couple practices birth control. Even so, one couple of, say, 15 or 16 might be fully equipped emotionally to handle sexual intimacy while another couple will not.

We live in a time of great irresponsibility and one manifestation of the irresponsibility is children having children and getting themselves diseased and passing that disease to others. There is no such thing as sexual morality. There is only morality. There is living consciously or not consciously, living responsibly or not living responsibly.

Q: What would you say to a man who says: “I’m a nice guy and because I’m a nice guy women aren’t interested in me; they go for these guys who leave them hanging by the phone. They don’t find me exciting.”

Branden: As long as there are girls with cold or rejecting fathers, a certain type of rejecting man will always have sex appeal for those females. That’s one part of the story. Let’s call it the neurotic part.

But there is another part that is less understood. There’s a story I like to tell men who are not especially self-assertive.

Many years ago I became friendly with a woman who worked in the same building, and occasionally we’d bump into each other in the elevator, and we’d end up having lunch together. She was dating a friend of mine at the time. So one day over lunch I said how are you and so-and-so getting along, just to make conversation. And she said: “I’m actually thinking of ending the relationship.” I said: “Really, if it’s not an invasion of your privacy, do you feel like telling me why?” She said: “Well, it’s really odd; I’m a fairly experienced woman, and he is by far the best lover I have ever known, and he is in many ways a terrific man to be with.” So I said, knowing I was about to learn something very interesting, “Then why are you ending the relationship?” She sighed, and she looked at me, and said: “Nathaniel, he’s too eager to please.” And I understood everything.

In other words he had such a desire to be liked or approved that there wasn’t enough male animal self-assertiveness in the relationship. He could be a marvelous lover, or a marvelous escort, but was missing something that she legitimately wanted. I wouldn’t call that neurotic on her part.

Q: While granting that self-esteem deficits lead to many other psychological problems, do you insist that “all” psychological problems are rooted in a troubled self-esteem?

Branden: If you mean caused by troubled self-esteem, and by that alone, no. If you mean, do we always find troubled self-esteem in the background, contributing to the problem in some way, often in a very basic way, the answer is yes, if not always, then a great deal of the time.

What I will say now is simply this. It is easy to see that many problems are a clear expression of poor self-esteem, such as fear of self-assertiveness, a habit of making self-deprecating comments, fear of change, novelty, or challenge, plus a good deal of anxiety and depression (although not all). And it is easy to see that many other problems are defenses against poor self-esteem, such as grandiosity, seeking always to control others’ behavior, focusing on popularity or material acquisitions as proof of self-worth, a habitual policy of putting other people down in order to lift oneself up, and so forth.

But to say that we can trace most problems to a troubled self-esteem is not to say that no other causal factor is involved. I need to clarify this point still further in some future writing project.

Q: On the subject of responsibility, what do you think of the practice of an unhappily married couple staying together “for the sake of the children?” Where does responsibility end and self-sacrifice begin?

Branden: A simple, general answer is not easy. There is no question that children suffer from divorce. It is also true that they suffer when the parents are always fighting and unhappy. And certainly responsible parents have to think about the impact on the children of their choices and decision. When children are involved—especially young children—self-responsible adults act slowly, thoughtfully, and non-impulsively. Their thinking does not stop at, “Don’t I have a right to my self-interest?”

Objectivism certainly teaches that we are responsible for the consequences of our actions. No one forces us to have children. If we elect to bring them into the world, we cannot walk away from our obligations to them merely because the obligations now feel inconvenient. But we also have a right to exist. And sometimes remaining in a marriage is so agonizing that we feel we must leave, if we are ever to have any kind of a life at all. I respect that right, too. So I do not condemn parents who break up a marriage, in spite of a possibly negative impact on the children.

What I cannot admire, however, is (a) parents who have children irresponsibly in the first place, (b) parents who walk away from a marriage without making every effort possible to save the situation, and (c) parents who do not think long and hard, and perhaps consults specialists, on how to minimize the suffering of children following the break-up.

There are three things never to do impulsively or mindlessly: get married; have children; get divorced. Of course, one shouldn’t do anything else mindlessly either.

Q: Leonard Peikoff said that it is all right to lie to someone if you think the truth is none of their business and is not owed to them. Do you agree? Is it ever morally permissible to lead someone astray with false information?

Branden: If you are being subjected to physical coercion or the threat of it, obviously you are morally free to lie to protect yourself and your possessions. We don’t owe honesty to someone pointing a gun at us.

When people ask questions that we perceive to be none of their business, it’s far better to refuse to discuss the issue than to lie. Better to point out, perhaps, that the question asked is none of the questioner’s legitimate business. Or to answer in a very general way that gives away nothing you don’t wish to give away. Sometimes nothing short of a lie will protect us, of course, and if the questioner truly has no right to ask what he or she is asking, I suppose a lie is defensible. But we are all on our honor here, because it is awfully easy to kid ourselves about what someone else does or does not have a right to ask.

What makes your question tricky, in part, is that you know, and I know, and many other people know—or at least we suspect—that Leonard developed this argument to legitimate Rand’s lying to everyone about her affair with me. She was demanding that Leonard and others in our circle damn me while withholding from them a vital piece of information that would help them understand what was really at issue. Once Rand asked her followers to damn Nathaniel Branden, she lost the right to claim that her full reasons and context were none of their business.

Not that she could always control herself. At the time of the explosion, in the summer of 1968, when my sister Florence met with Ayn and struggled to decide who to believe, she spent several hours in Ayn’s apartment while Ayn ridiculed the idea of an affair between us as absurd. But Florence persisted in her questioning, long after a loyal follower would have stopped—Florence was an admirer but not a true believer—and finally Ayn yelled that if I was the man I had pretended to be I would have been in love with her rather than with Patrecia. And then Florence knew that I had been telling her the truth.

Since Ayn insisted that she always took pride in her choices and actions, here was a chance to prove it. Why didn’t she repeat the statement she made to Florence, in the pages of The Objectivist? Why didn’t she say it to Leonard and the rest of our circle? Why didn’t she proudly assert her values and choices the way her heroes and heroines did? When I failed on this same account, it was properly regarded as a vice.

Q: At NBI someone asked if a person can be involved in two romantic relationships at the same time. You and Miss Rand replied that “Only giants can.” Considering the mess that the “giants” made, have you altered your view on this?

Branden: Today I would answer that people with a less grandiose view of themselves probably have a better chance of succeeding in such a project with some reasonable degree of sanity and balance. Ayn and I—who were operating totally out of reality—had no chance whatsoever. For further details about what is or is not possible in relationships, let me refer you to my Psychology of Romantic Love.

Q: Ayn Rand had a concept of the “ideal man” and she seems to have projected that concept first onto her husband and then later onto you—as if she could be in love with a man only if she perceived him as the embodiment of the “ideal,” irrespective of the man’s actual real-world traits. Is there a form of Platonism here?

Branden: Ayn one day admitted it to me, that if Frank had not looked as he did, she would never have fallen in love with him. Looks were terribly important to Ayn. I don’t mean that it’s wrong to care about looks. But Frank and Ayn were so profoundly different in so many ways. Whatever his virtues—and he did have virtues—I don’t think anyone can deny that he was passive, non-intellectual, non-assertive, and dependent.

Interestingly enough, it was Barbara who challenged me to look at Ayn realistically on this subject. One day, not long after the break, when I was trying to defend some aspect of Ayn’s behavior because of how hurt she was, Barbara said, “Nathan, be a psychologist. Look at Ayn as if she were a client in your office. She’s been in love with two men, and the first was passive and totally subordinate to her, and the second was a man, no matter what his strengths, twenty-five years her junior. What are the implications of that? Ayn needs to be in control. And look at how she behaves when she can’t be.” I was stopped dead in my tracks—because I saw that Barbara was right.

So, yes, Ayn did a lot of projecting, on Frank and on me, to justify and make sense of her feelings for each of us. There’s probably a little projecting in all relationships, but Ayn took projection into the stratosphere. She over-praised me many times. That was really harmful—and seductive. So long as I was “her” man, everything I did was “genius.” Very intoxicating to a young man.

Q: In Taking Responsibility, as well as in earlier writings, you acknowledge that destructive parenting can have a devastating impact on a young person’s development. In light of this, if one has a wounded or underdeveloped self-esteem, is it fair to regard oneself as immoral?

Branden: This is an important issue. Let me take my time with this. I will begin with an observation that virtually every psychologist would agree with: a person who thinks of himself or herself as “immoral” is likely to turn that judgment into a self-fulfilling prophecy, by engaging in behaviors that are immoral. That is why we warn parents against labeling children. In the immortal words of child psychologist Haim Ginott, “Labeling is disabling.” Label a child as stupid, or sloppy, or incompetent—and watch the child go out to prove you’re right.

If a client wants to tell me that, in retrospect, he now perceives something he or she once did as immoral, I do not challenge that, assuming it makes sense to me. But if the person describes himself or herself as immoral, I certainly do challenge it. I encourage people to see themselves as results of the choices they make, and if they do not like some of their past choices, I may encourage them to understand why they made them, and to explore what better choices exist for the future. I am more interested in where we’re going than where we’ve been.

Now if parents have treated us badly, and we have acquired some destructive behavior patterns of our own, I see no value in worrying about what was my parents’ “fault” and what is my “fault.” I am interested in: how do I do better in the future? And that is what I teach clients. A client preoccupied with self-condemnation is harder to help, not easier. Also, as I discussed in Honoring the Self, sometimes self-reproach is only a defense strategy, an excuse not to grow: “I’m no good, so expect nothing of me.”

Finally, I will say this: nobody ever improved by telling himself he was rotten—or by being told he was rotten. And boy, is that something Objectivists need to understand. Sometimes it breaks my heart a little when I get an Objectivist for a client, and he says, “I’ve got poor self-esteem, I’m immoral, I must be or else I’d have good self-esteem.” And I ask of what the immorality consists, and of course the client can almost never tell me.

The psychological roots of most problems are fairly complicated, a mixture of environmental factors, volitional ones, and sometimes even biological ones. It’s not always possible to know all the factors involved or how they relate, and fortunately in most cases it’s not necessary to know in order to get the problem solved. It’s painful enough to have the problem. What is helped by, in addition, tormenting oneself with self-reproach?

Apart from the fact that in this sphere we often lack the knowledge to make appropriate judgments, even if we had the knowledge we have to ask: What is our purpose here in making moral judgments? Is it just to make judgments for the sake of making them, to prove I’m a good Objectivist? Is it to help me overcome my problems and grow? Moral judgments have to have a purpose, something we wish to accomplish. They rarely accomplish anything valuable when working on one’s own development. At best, they might be applicable to actions we’ve taken and now regret. Even then, however, people generally know when they’ve done something wrong. Psychotherapists don’t need to hit them over the head with it. More often, we have to make sure they don’t hit themselves over the head with it, to the extent that it blocks progress.

Occasionally, there is a client who does have to be helped to face the wrongness of some action, but in my experience such clients are a small minority. And even here, it’s not so much a matter of focusing on how wrong the action was—the client already knows that—as focusing on the fact that the client really did perform this action, confronting the full reality of it. With most clients my basic attitude is: “Shall we talk about how rotten you are or shall we look at how you can do better in the future, and create a happier, more satisfying life for yourself?”

Q: All the Objectivist virtues are directly volitional except one, Pride. Each day we can say: “Today I will be honest, productive, rational…” but you cannot say: “Today I will be proud.” Pride is the end result of practicing the other virtues, but it cannot be guaranteed if there has been traumatic damage done to you as a child. Pride is a feeling, an end result of virtuous action. How can a feeling be a virtue? How can the reward of virtuous action be a virtue itself? Should pride be included in the Objectivist list if it cannot be directly volitional?

Branden: What confuses this issue is that there are two different senses in which we use the term “pride.” We can mean pride as an emotional experience and we can mean pride in the Objectivist sense of a virtue. When we speak of pride as an emotional experience we refer to the pleasure we take in our own achievements, in what we have made of ourselves as human beings and what we have accomplished. When we speak of pride as a virtue, we mean moral ambitiousness. We mean a commitment to valuing our own life and striving to become the best person we can, in the moral sense. Here, choice and volition are clearly involved.

Pride as a virtue entails treating yourself as a value, treating yourself with respect, and this may not always be easy, because of one’s fears or insecurities. Courage may be needed. Of course, if one has been doing things about which one feels ashamed or guilty, and refuses to confront these issues and clean them up, pride is as good as impossible. Except that there may still be some spark of pride left that inspires a person to call a halt to his or her self-undermining activity.

Q: If pride is a virtue, and our goal if we are morally ambitious, do we not run the risk of trying to create pride by making our ego the goal of winning an argument, or deciding upon a set of truths that make us look good? Shouldn’t we just seek truth and be honest, productive, etc., and not worry about pride so much? Wouldn’t it be more philosophically correct and psychologically more healthy, if it were not considered a virtue, but just an emotional reward?

Branden: Pride divorced from honesty, reality, and integrity, is not pride. Pride is not about “winning arguments” or “looking good.” I have written about this in The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem. Neither self-esteem or pride are competitive or comparative. It is not about me winning over you or looking better than you. It’s about me being the best person I can be.

Q: You are often described as “the father of the self-esteem movement.” How do you feel about that? Do you think the movement has gone astray? If so, how and why has it happened?

Branden: Being described that way puts me in a difficult position. I don’t want to be ungracious about what is intended as a compliment. And yet, I have many problems with the self-esteem movement. I often agree with the attacks of its critics, although I am also convinced most critics don’t really understand the issues involved.

There are a few serious people in the movement, doing really good work, and I am proud to have them as colleagues. But there is also a lot of fluff, by which I mean shallow, sugar-coated nonsense that has nothing important to do with self-esteem. I’m thinking of the notion that you can grow in self-esteem by greeting yourself in the mirror every morning, blowing yourself a kiss, and saying, “Hi, perfect!” A lot of what is taught in the schools in the name of self-esteem is pretty poor. It gives self-esteem a bad name—like the notion that one should not let a child know how inadequate his or her mastery of some subject is, for fear of undermining self-esteem, as if self-esteem can be achieved by faking reality.

I have been fighting to put the whole subject of self-esteem on an intellectually serious foundation. I am happy that my definition of self-esteem was adopted by the National Council for Self-Esteem, although it is by no means universally accepted by all members. There is still an enormous amount of work to be done. What is certain, however, is that we have to get away from associating self-esteem with schoolchildren singing songs about how wonderful they are. We have to think much more deeply about what self-esteem depends on and how it is nurtured.

 The Objectivist ethics treats Reason, Purpose, and Self-esteem as its cardinal values. You have written a great deal about Self-esteem. Have your ever considered turning your attention in future books to Reason and Purpose?

Branden: I have a book coming out in the spring of 1997—The Art of Living Consciously. You can think of that, in a way, as my book about Reason, although I will have more to say about it in another book I am now planning. I don’t put my discussion in the context of Objectivism, just as my writing on self-esteem is not contextualized that way. I write as Nathaniel Branden, not as “an Objectivist.” As for Purpose, I don’t plan to write more than what I wrote in Six Pillars, where living purposefully gets a chapter.

Q: Might it be interesting for you to write a book about how to live rationally? Or on how to choose a productive career?

Branden: Live rationally? That’s The Art of Living Consciously. I’ve no plans to write about choosing a career. I find my interests turning more and more back to philosophy. I’ve done what I wanted to do in psychology.

Q: What advice do you have for anyone wanting to enter the field of psychology, especially clinical psychology?

Branden: Learn as many different ways of working with people as you can. Don’t get stuck on just one or two techniques. Almost every system has something of value in it. Find out what it is. And keep working on yourself. And whether you’re in clinical psychology or some other specialty, don’t think you have nothing to learn from other psychologists just because they are not Objectivists. You have plenty to learn.


Q: Do you consider yourself an Objectivist?

Branden: In terms of broad fundamentals, sure.

Q: What are your chief differences with Rand?

Branden: The biggest area of difference that I am aware of so far is in psychology. Most of the time I disagree with Rand’s psychological explanations of why people believe what they believe or do what they do. For example, I totally dismiss her analysis of the psychology of mysticism, for which, incidentally, she offers no evidence or proof whatever. I agree with her in rejecting mysticism, but that’s a different issue. Also, the psychology of sex is much more complicated than one would ever gather from reading Rand, although I once shared her views. And, in general, her explanations of why people hold the ideas they do are merely assertions, unsupported by argument, as if no other interpretations were possible than the ones that occurred to her. I regard her metaethics as solid, but her ethics itself as underdeveloped and very incomplete. Much more needs to be thought out in the sphere of human relationships. I have some reservations in the field of epistemology but so far they seem small and I am still formulating them. I think her achievements in epistemology are stupendous.

Q: In your talk for IOS this past summer, you spoke of your need to get away from Objectivism, following your break with Rand, in order to gain some perspective. What did you learn by doing so?

Branden: I saw that in the world I had formerly inhabited we were all both meat and meat-grinder—victim and executioner. I saw that Ayn’s literary and philosophical achievements had to be separated from Ayn the person to be adequately appreciated. I saw that she was a tortured and tormented giant. I saw that what I had gained from her, what she had given me, mattered much more to me in the end than any wrong I might attribute to her. And I saw that the pattern of our relationship—younger person and older; student and mentor; Champion and Queen—was not some unique experience I alone was suffering, but a story as old and familiar as history; in a word, an archetype. In the words of the poem, our end was contained in our beginning.

Q: In The Benefits and Hazards of the Philosophy of Ayn Rand, you said that Rand never knew very much about mysticism, and also that mysticism and irrationalism are not synonymous concepts although they are often so treated by Objectivists. Would you clarify?

Branden: By “mysticism” I mean the claim there are aspects of existence that can be known by means of a unique cognitive faculty whose judgments are above the authority of sensory observation or reason. “Irrationalism,” by which I mean the sheer defiance of reason and logic per se, needn’t make any claim to other pathways to knowledge. One can be an irrationalist without being a mystic.

If Ayn had ever seriously studied mystical literature, she would have known how frivolous it was to identify mysticism with “the worship of feelings and whims.” The most brilliant and articulate spokesperson for mysticism to the West is a psychologist named Ken Wilber. It’s impossible to read him without learning that mysticism is a much more complex subject than we ever learned at Objectivist lectures. One doesn’t have to be a mystic to recognize that some of those people have extraordinary minds and sometimes very interesting things to say. I address these matters in The Art of Living Consciously.

Perhaps I should add that I remain an uncompromising champion of reason.

Q: Then the rumors are false that Nathaniel Branden has been flirting with mysticism?

Branden: Yes, they’re false. Also the rumors that I have become a convert to God, altruism, and flying saucers.

Q: Why do you suppose such rumors started?

Branden: Perhaps because of what I’ve just said about Ayn not knowing much about mysticism. Or perhaps because in my lectures and writings I talk about the importance of kindness and benevolence in human relationships. Or perhaps because, in light of how much Branden hurt Ayn Rand, why wouldn’t he believe in flying saucers?

Q: Rand always stressed that emotions are not tools of cognition. Many Objectivists seem to ignore emotions in the name of “being rational.” In contrast, you emphasize the importance of listening to emotions and learning from them. What role do emotions play in the acquisition of knowledge?

Branden: If our goal is self-awareness and self-understanding, they play a supremely important role. Emotions are not, literally, “tools of cognition,” to be sure, but they are often data of great significance. They allow us to directly experience what things mean to us. Without that experience, we are cut off from our own context. Try to decide “rationally” who to ask out for a date, or who to marry, or whether or not to have children, or what career to pursue, without the information provided by your feelings. One of the great insights of my life was the realization that most of the big mistakes I had made had happened while I was ignoring or was oblivious to what I felt.

Q: At the IOS conference, you spoke of the lack of any account of moral redemption in the Objectivist literature. How might such a gap be filled?

Branden: Fortunately, I can give you an example from Atlas. In one of Ayn’s daydreams about the story, she had Stadler redeeming himself at the end by turning against the government at great personal risk—I think he destroys the Project X machine. There is an explosion and when he wakes up he’s in the Valley; Galt and the other strikers have rescued him. That would have been a dramatization of moral redemption. The message would have been: One can fall but then one can rise again. It could have been very inspiring. But I don’t think moral redemption interested her very much. Some other Objectivist will have to write about it.

Q: Why do Objectivists so often appear arrogant? They seem to find it very difficult to say “I don’t know” or “I need to think about that.” Is this where a little humility might be a good thing?

Branden: I’m not fond of the term “humility,” but I sympathize with the intention of the question. What is needed is less pretentiousness and greater realism. Many Objectivists seem to feel that they are special because they share a philosophy superior to all others. It’s as if they base their self-esteem on being a follower of this philosophy, not on anything about their own character or actions. To be comfortable saying “I don’t know,” or “I need to think about that,” one has to have a decent level of self-esteem—and a decent level of honesty. That’s what appears to be missing. What’s involved here is more than lack of “humility.”

Q: You have expressed admiration for Dr. Sciabarra’s book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. What do you see as the chief importance of this book?

Branden: He has brought Ayn Rand into the history of philosophy. He has attempted to place her in a historical context. Whether or not he’s right in all his hypotheses is not the most important point. So far, his is the book most likely to gain the interest of the academic community, and that interest is essential if one is thinking long-range about the spread of Objectivism. You’ve got to get the teaching of Objectivism into the universities.

Q: What do you think of Leonard Peikoff’s Objectivism: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand?

Branden: That book wouldn’t influence anyone who was not already a believer. There is no attempt to build a bridge from other perspectives to Rand’s. Very disappointing. Here is the first major non-fiction work to introduce Objectivism to the world—and it’s stilted, pedantic, totally non-inspirational. No fire and no sense of joy. I had hoped for more from Leonard.

Observe that in the preface he gratuitously insults the academic community, yet he wants that community’s support, or else why would the book be advertised in academic journals? So, like a person with an inferiority complex, he beats the academics to the punch—rejecting them before they can reject him. The book that this one started out to be still needs to be written.

Q: Some thinkers—Doug Den Uyl, Doug Rasmussen, Chris Sciabarra—have argued that Rand’s view of man’s life as the standard of moral value entails more than mere survival but also entails the idea of “flourishing”—something closer to the classic idea of “eudaemonism.” What’s your stand on this?

Branden: You have to realize that when Rand spoke of “survival,” she intended that as synonymous with “the life proper to Man.” She meant a good deal more than merely not dying. She saw “survival” and “flourishing” as inseparable. The example I sometimes gave to make this point clear went like this. Imagine a man in an iron lung. He is not dead but clearly he is not living “the life proper to Man.” Such a life would have to entail the full and proper use of his faculties. I wrote an article on this—I forget whether it appeared in “The Objectivist Newsletter” or “The Objectivist.” So the debates I sometimes hear about between the “survivalists” and the “flourishers” have never made sense to me, not in an Objectivist context.

Q: You have said on more than one occasion that while it may not have been anyone’s intention, there are aspects of Objectivism that encourage repression and emotional self-alienation. At the IOS conference you read passages from Rand’s books to illustrate your thesis. How can a young student protect against this error?

Branden: By always remembering that there is nothing heroic about denying or disowning reality—including the reality of one’s feelings. And—dare I say this?—by studying my books. I have provided a badly needed corrective in this area.

Q: For Objectivism to spread in our culture, what do you see as our most urgent need?

Branden: More than anything, we need books and articles written either about Objectivism or about other subjects from an Objectivist perspective. We need to see more in print about Rand’s philosophy and more about its application to problems in a wide variety of areas. Study groups are fine, conferences are fine, public lectures are fine—but the spread of ideas still depends more on the written word than on anything else. And it’s disappointing how little has been written so far.

Personal Interests

Q: Is there any truth to the rumor that you have written several stage plays? If so, do you ever plan to publish them?

Branden: What a pleasure to hear a rumor about me that’s true. Yes, I have written for the theater. No, I don’t plan to publish; not good enough.

Q: Any plans to write a novel?

Branden: I’ve had it in my mind to do so for a long time. Other projects I kept feeling I “must” write kept getting in the way. Right now, I’m working on the outline of what looks to be a fairly big non-fiction book—an integration of philosophy, psychology, culture, history, and political economy—but am I absolutely certain I will write it, or write it next? Not really. I’ve surprised myself too many times in the past.

But what is on my mind, some time in the next few years, is to write a novel. There’s a story idea that’s preoccupied me for a long time. All I can say at the moment is that it feels promising, feels right. I’m reluctant to make forecasts because, you know, it often seems that the books choose me, I don’t choose them—I get this voice in my head saying, (of course I’m speaking poetry here), “I don’t care what your plans were, this is what you must do next.”

All I’m certain of is that as long as I’m alive and functioning, I’ll be writing. Apart from my marriage, working at my computer is the greatest single joy of my life. Sometimes my wife Devers pops in on me when I’m writing, and I look from the computer screen to Devers, and the back to the screen, and then back to Devers, and I don’t know how many times I’ve said to her, “I don’t know what anyone else wants out of life, or thinks life is about, but for me, right here, right now, everything I ever wanted is in the room with me. I feel completely fulfilled. All that’s left to want is that this will go on for a very long time.”

Personal Reflections

Q: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far in life?

Branden: I’d like to say, first of all, I hate being confined to the single most important thing. Can I mention two?

Q: Okay, what are the two most important things you’ve learned?

Branden: Let yourself know and fully experience how important love is and honor that importance in your actions. Don’t ever be careless with love. Be aware of the preciousness of each moment of your existence. Be aware that none of us is immortal—the clock is always ticking and none of us knows how long any of us has got. The time to let that other person experience how loved and valued he or she is by us, is right now. It’s one thing to love—and quite another to have the wisdom and courage to live that love fully, unreservedly, and to the hilt. Fully to surrender to love can be terrifying, but it’s the price life asks of us in exchange for the possibility of ecstasy.

Q: And your second message to the world?

Branden: Don’t deny or disown what you see or experience merely because you can’t explain it, justify it, or fit it into some familiar frame-of-reference. Allow a large space in your psyche to accommodate ambiguity and uncertainty. Don’t invent explanations prematurely just so you can tell yourself you have the universe all tied up in one neat package. Keep your eyes open, keep observing, and be confident that sooner or later the truth will appear to you, providing, of course, you live long enough. And if you don’t, well, hasn’t it been an interesting adventure anyway?

Interview with Mimi Reisel Gladstein by Karen Minto

Q: Where did you grow up and what kinds of ideas influenced your basic philosophical outlook?

Gladstein: My background is multinational. I was conceived in Poland, born in Nicaragua, and grew up in Texas, which was also once a republic. People are always surprised to find out that I am an immigrant and did not get my citizenship papers until I was 19. My family arrived, via banana boat, in New Orleans, and then made the trek across Texas to El Paso. We lived, for a while, in Las Cruces, New Mexico, but moved back to El Paso when I was in the fourth grade. In high school, I won a Daughters of the American Revolution essay contest on the topic of “what America means to me.” My theme was our family’s realization of the American dream. My father was so grateful for the refuge and opportunity provided by this country that he even had a positive attitude toward paying taxes.

As for influences, I would have to say that my father was crucial in the formation of my philosophical outlook. Emil Reisel was an extraordinary man. He spoke eight languages and I often watched him add up a column of numbers faster than the adding machine could. He had absolute integrity and was utterly uncompromising about individual responsibility and independence. He and my mother demanded excellence. My mother demanded an explanation if I brought home an A-, which she considered a bad grade for me. Even though my father hadn’t learned English till he was almost thirty and I have a Ph. D., there were times when he corrected my grammar. He was a word wizard; no one could beat him at Scrabble or Boggle. His chess game was so good that, during WWII, he won an ivory and teak chess set in a match with the Air Force champ. His was an unquenchable spirit; when he was sick, he tried to make us feel better. He went through agonizing periods of bad health, but would giggle and make jokes to cheer us up if we walked in to find him on the floor after a stroke destroyed his balance. After he died, we got letters from people he had helped, people we did not even know.

Q: Tell us about your involvement with Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand. How did you become involved in the project and what reasons drew you to this enterprise?

Gladstein: It was wonderfully serendipitous. One day, I went to my mailbox and found a letter from Chris Sciabarra, a man I did not know. To this day we have not met face to face. In the letter, Chris asked if I would consider any or all of a number of proposals. He explained that Penn State University Press was interested in publishing a volume of feminist interpretations of Ayn Rand in their Rereading the Canon series. He asked: (1) permission to reprint “Ayn Rand and Feminism: an Unlikely Alliance” since it was the pioneer article in the field; (2) that I consider writing an update or follow-up to that article for the volume; (3) and finally, he asked if I would consider coediting the volume with him. I thought, “Why not?” The rest, as they say, is history.

Intellectually, I’ve always liked to follow unexpected leads. I’m a fan of serendipity, spontaneity, and variety. My publications include such diverse topics as Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, Mark Medoff, Jose Emilio Pacheco (a Mexican novelist and poet), Robert Raynolds (a Southwestern writer), and I’m even an authority on the Texas Western College 1966 NCAA basketball champions. Sports Illustrated reporters call me as a resource when they write about that historic moment in basketball history.

Q: What was it like working with so many authors and coediting it with Chris Sciabarra?

Gladstein: In the past, I always resisted editing anthologies. I never liked the idea of having to depend on other people to get their work in on time. I like the independence of research and writing. And though I’ve been part of numerous scholarly anthologies, I have always sympathized with the editors. Still, I must say that this experience has been much easier than I expected. Maybe it’s like childbirth and one forgets the pain when one holds the baby.

Working with Chris is another story. From beginning to end, the coediting process was amazingly smooth. We were in accord about almost everything. Our reactions were in sync; we found the same things problematic, marked the same grammatical errors. I like to tease him that we are like the couple in You’ve Got Mail. We fell in love by email. We have a tentative meeting set for May when my husband and I will be in New York.

Seriously, what we found is that we had skills and knowledge that complemented each other. Whereas my expertise is in literature and the humanities, his is in the social sciences. If I missed something, he noticed it. I found his editorial suggestions always on target and he was very positive about mine. If it sounds like we belong to a mutual admiration society, we do. It’s hard to convey the spirit of the experience in print, but we had a great time.

Q: Was it difficult to act as coeditors?

Gladstein: Certainly, my being in Texas and his being in Brooklyn, didn’t make the coediting job easier. But, he is wonderfully efficient and I had copies of all essays almost as soon as he had them. When I had marked each essay, I sent him a page by page listing of my corrections. Then we had long telephone conversations on any items that needed fuller discussion. Cowriting the introduction was made easier by email attachments. It’s like an obstacle course; you have a sense of accomplishment getting around or over each obstacle. Generally, I would say that I liked the challenge of dealing with all the difficulties.

Q: What criteria did you use for selecting among the proposed articles?

Gladstein: Naturally, we were taken with original and provocative perspectives. We also tried to achieve some variety in disciplines and critical approaches.

Q: Do you think the volume is balanced between perspectives and disciplines?

Gladstein: Not unexpectedly, the essays in the volume are predominately pro-Rand and positive about what she has to offer feminism. Still, they are not uncritical. As for balance among disciplines, there are, among others, literary critics, a political and psychological anthropologist, freelance writers, philosophers, psychologists and a professor of linguistics. There is even geographical diversity. Our writers come from as far north as Norway and as far south as Australia, and from sea to shining sea in the United States. It’s quite a mix.

Q: What do you think the impact of the volume will be, especially given that it is part of a series of similarly titled books, each of which examines another thinker in the Western tradition?

Gladstein: I’ve always heard complaints from Rand admirers that she is not given proper consideration in the academy. Well, this is as good as it gets in terms of being treated seriously and respectfully as a thinker in the Western canon. The series includes Plato, Descartes, Hegel, de Beauvoir, Wollstonecraft, Sartre.

Q: The Intellectual Activist sees the Feminist volume as another sign of “the academic deconstruction of Ayn Rand,” the same charge John Ridpath leveled at Sciabarra’s book on Rand. It condemns the book because it is a sign of the “dishonest methods of post-modernist academics.” This condemnation was based on the editor’s perusal of the volume’s website, not on the basis of any actual acquaintance with the text of the book. How do you respond to this?

Gladstein: I teach research and critical writing and if students ever write evaluations of books without reading them, I fail them. It is the first rule of criticism. You must read a work before you can evaluate it. Writing an evaluation from a website is like using Cliff Notes instead of reading the text. It is intellectually dishonest at best, lazy at least.

May I add that you can’t have it both ways. If Ayn Rand is to be part of the canon, her ideas, as they are embodied in her works, both fiction and nonfiction must be subject to discussion. She wrote fiction and essays, not holy writ. Analysis and interpretation is what are done in English and Philosophy classes. I’ll restrict my comments to literature, because that is my field. If we are discussing The Grapes of Wrath, for instance, we can use any number of critical approaches: mythic, feminist, Marxist, sociological, structural, post-structural, formalist, and so on. Approaching the work from each of these perspectives enriches rather than restricts our appreciation. We can admire how Steinbeck took what many considered a strictly temporal political situation and layered it with meaning, informing the particular with a universal significance. If this work were just a political ploy to elicit sympathy for the plight of a group of “Okies” moving to California, it would not be as meaningful today as it was in 1939. It is on almost everyone’s list of greatest works of the 20th century. I have taught that novel in Caracas, in London, and in Madrid and find that all peoples respond to it. Why? It has to be because the work addresses something universal. I don’t know what the Intellectual Activist means by deconstruction and dishonest methods. There are fourteen new essays and the introduction in the book. He has decided, without reading any of them that all use dishonest methods and deconstruct the text? This is a champion of reason?

Times change and even The Bible had to be reinterpreted in response to changing time. Rand’s work, too, has to be viewed in light of changing history. Let me use Rand’s own criterion to analyze her art. In her essay on art and sense of life, Rand explains that in real life if one sees a beautiful woman with a cold sore on her lips, it is just a minor blemish. However, she explains that if an artist paints it, then it is a “corrupt, obscenely vicious attack on man, on beauty, on all values—and one would experience a feeling of immense disgust and indignation at the artist.” When I read Atlas Shrugged and Rand has all the heroic characters putting cigarettes in their mouths, I find it disgusting. In my perception, cigarettes are cancer sticks, coffin nails, disgusting, nasty. However, I don’t discard all of Rand because I think she used an unfortunate symbol in this case. I understand that times changed and we have different knowledge now. That’s part of what happens in criticism. One doesn’t judge a ’50s text by ’90s standards.

One group cannot control the discussion. They can participate in the give and take of academic discourse, point out what they see as the fallacies in this or that argument. Pointing out the deficiencies of previous critics is a time-honored way of beginning a scholarly article. But it is the height of absurdity to condemn something you have not read.

Q: You were the first director of the Women’s Studies Program at the University of Texas, El Paso. You were also the first person to write about the “unlikely alliance” between Rand and feminism in a 1978 College English article. In the feminism volume, however, you and Chris state that you approached Berliner and Peikoff to contribute to the volume but they declined on the grounds that feminism was irrational, and that any book based on feminism as the premise, rather than feminism vs. Objectivism, they could not sanction. How do you characterize the relationship between Objectivism and feminism? Are they compatible or incompatible?

Gladstein: In the first place, we weren’t looking for their sanction. We thought it appropriate to include their perspective even if that perspective questioned the validity of the concept. Their refusal to engage in a critical dialog in any venue except one in which they set the ground rules is disappointing.

As for my opinion about the compatibility of feminism and Objectivism, I guess that would depend on individual definitions of both. My Funk & Wagnalls defines feminism as “a doctrine advocating the granting of the same social, political, and economic rights to women as the ones granted to men.” Logically, there should be no reason for Objectivism and feminism to be incompatible. I have met many people who call themselves both.

As Chris and I say in our introduction, “Feminism is not a monolith.” Neither is Objectivism. However, what I understood in my brief discussion with Mike Berliner was that the feminism I espoused was invalid as a concept because it was subsumed under the category of individualism. My response is that that is all very well theoretically, but it ignores reality. The reality is that in 1970 when I wanted a bank loan, I needed my husband’s signature. Neither Objectivists nor Individualists were concerned with my problem. Feminists were. It was not until the ERA was passed in Texas that numerous obstacles to my full human potential were removed. That is reality. However, I have never been a collectivist feminist and think that such groups as N.O.W. have done great disservice to women.


Q: You have an upcoming expanded edition of The Ayn Rand Companion. How does it differ from the first edition?

Gladstein: Much has been added. The first edition was published in 1984. At that time there had been only three books about Rand written by academics, six books in all if one doesn’t count Who Is Ayn Rand? which is a special case since it came from within the pale, as it were. My new book bibliography includes 29 titles. That’s quite an increase. It’s hard to remember what we did not know or what had not been publicly acknowledged in those days. For example, I believe I was the first to publish the fact that Rand’s name was Alice Rosenbaum. Remember, none of the biographical works had been published then, except for Barbara Branden’s authorized essay, which does not include it. My biographical chapter was the first independent version of the life. The new biographical chapter certainly benefits from information that has come to light not only in the various memoirs of those who knew Rand, but also from the unique visual perspective of Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life.

Interview with John Hospers by Karen Minto

Q: Where did you grow up?

Hospers: I was born and raised in a small Dutch town near Des Moines, Iowa, settled by the Dutch in 1847. The first language I learned was Dutch, and almost everyone in the town spoke it, as well as English. The Dutch Reformed Church dominated the life of the town, though there was no religious training in the public schools. People were very industrious and hard-working. I don’t think anyone in the town was on welfare, and the average income of families was the highest in the state. There were tulip gardens all over the place, and every year in May they’d have an annual tulip festival—everyone in Dutch costume, scrubbing the streets, singing Dutch songs—the whole bit. More important to me were the dogs and cats I always had, and finding homes for stray animals.

Q: What early influences affected your intellectual development?

Hospers: The religious influence was very strong, and at first I absorbed it like everyone else. It was a long time before I knew of anyone who did not share the prevailing Calvinism. Later, I got to thinking about it critically more and more, and that is undoubtedly what started my interest in philosophy, though at that time I was unaware that there was a subject by that name.

In sixth grade I read every article on astronomy in the school’s World Book Encyclopedia, and then I borrowed every book on astronomy that the city library had. I would figure out when different stars and planets would rise, and stay up at night waiting for it to happen. The laws of physics and astronomy never let me down.

The Central College campus was just a block from our house, and I would go to the college observatory and show the college students the rings of Saturn and various double stars. When I got to college myself, the dean, who taught astronomy, delegated the job of teaching it to me. It was my first and best teaching experience—I prepared the tests, taught the class, preparing the lectures and discussions with care. Here I was, a 17-year-old, teaching astronomy to college seniors. Sometimes the dean would drop in and smile, telling the class “I’ll leave you to John—he knows more about astronomy than I do.” Whatever compliments I have ever received, this was the one that meant the most to me.

A cousin who planned to go on to Harvard to study English influenced me to major in that subject. There wasn’t a lot of philosophy being taught at the college, so in addition to taking the few philosophy courses, I took a major in English. I might have stuck with astronomy, except that no one thought that such a subject would lead to any professional future. Meanwhile, even prior to courses in philosophy, I was having more doubts about religion: the usual ones about how one could know that this religion possessed the truth rather than another, how one could get knowledge of God, and so on. What saved me was the reading of David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion—which I still think is the greatest book ever written on the subject. It reflected so many of my own thoughts that I knew I was not alone. I remember thinking, for example, that if God is both all-good and all-powerful, he would not let people and animals suffer. If he couldn’t prevent their suffering, he is not omnipotent, and if he doesn’t want to prevent it he is not all-good. We excuse a surgeon for inflicting suffering if he can’t cure the patient any other way, but an omnipotent benevolent deity would not have that excuse. That source of doubt was more important to me than the usual ones about where did God come from. I concluded with Hume that no attempt to get round this dilemma was successful.

I went on to get a Master’s degree in English at the State University of Iowa. I was all set to teach Shakespeare and Shelley, but I never got to do it: when I was offered a scholarship at Columbia University, I asked whether I could change my major to philosophy. That was okay with them, so it was in philosophy that I finally got my Ph.D., though I skated on pretty thin ice because of my comparative lack of background in philosophy. But the literature background prepared me well for a dissertation in aesthetics, which became my major field of study in philosophy.

Q: What philosophers did you most respect in graduate school?

Hospers: Hume and Mill. Also Plato and Aristotle, and to some extent Descartes and Locke. But Hume most of all—both his historical and epistemological works—which I admired as much for the beauty and clarity of his style as for what he said. It wasn’t until later that I got into contemporary philosophers such as William James, Blanshard, and most of all G. E. Moore, who was for a year my teacher at Columbia.

Q: What is your best philosophical work?

Hospers: Probably the aesthetics book, Understanding the Arts. The most famous section I ever wrote was the 100-page first chapter of Introduction to Philosophical Analysis,entitled “Words and the World,” which introduced a whole generation of students to philosophy via the study of language, and for which I am still best known. I also picked up some notoriety with my long piece in the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Aesthetics, Problems of,” and even more with my 40,000-word article in the Encyclopedia Britannica, “Art, Philosophy of.”


Q: You used to be a determinist. Are you still?

Hospers: This depends on what the word “determinism” (like so many words ending in -ism) is taken to mean. Some people say that all events are predetermined by God; I see no reason to accept that view. Or that “it’s all determined by laws of nature”—if you knew all the laws and all the initial conditions, you could predict everything (as Newton did with regard to the planetary orbits). The problem is (one of many) that if you made the prediction and the predicted event didn’t occur, we would say, without any further evidence, that we hadn’t considered all the conditions—we’d take the very fact of the prediction going wrong as evidence that there was an error in our statement of the conditions. Thus the statement becomes what philosophers call a “functional tautology.” Sure, all our actions have causes. Do we really want to say that some of our actions have no causes at all? Freedom says “I cause my actions.” Determinism (in the unobjectionable sense) says “My actions are caused by me.” They are two sides of the same coin.

Q: How well did David Kelley defend direct realism in The Evidence of the Senses?

Hospers: I confess that I’ve never read it all the way through. Some years ago I was much more involved with problems of perception than I am now; his book came too late on the scene for me. But he writes with admirable clarity and doesn’t confuse one sub-problem with another, as so many writers do.

Many writers have defended direct realism, e.g. John Laird’s A Theory of Direct Realism. I must say I was never totally convinced by this view. It still seems to me that smells and tastes, and even colors, vary enormously from one percipient to another because of the differences in our sense-organs. Not only in our sense-organs, but in our state of mind: the dessert no longer tastes sweet after we have eaten something that tasted sweet just before. What does exist out there are certain chemical properties of the dish, and also of the human nose. But you can’t say that something has a property A and also doesn’t have it–only that it seems to one person that it has A, and doesn’t seem so to another. However, it may be that David doesn’t want to deny any of this. I’m afraid I’d have to go and spend some time with the book again.

Q: What did you think of Sciabarra’s view that Rand was a dialectical thinker, and absorbed her method of doing philosophy from Russian culture?

Hospers: Amen! That’s what I thought all along, and reading his book provided a confirmation I had greatly sought. “Dialectical” characterizes her method throughout, and helps to explain why Ayn and I came from different starting points, and conceived the issues differently. In view of this it’s amazing that we got on as well as we did. Her method was quite immune to the subtleties of language. Naturally, I believe that the method of philosophical analysis as done largely in Anglo-American philosophy is preferable; at least it gets the questions straight. I wish she had been exposed early on to the clarifying light of contemporary Anglo-American philosophy. There is one book I would like to have gone through with her step by step: Alexander B. Johnson’s A Treatise on Language, published in 1836. He was never attached to any college or university, but figured out the fundamentals all by himself—truly one of the great figures of American philosophy. Very few people know about him, even today.

Q: What is the most profound thing that Rand got right in basic philosophy?

Hospers: Several things (I couldn’t pick out just one). That reality is there independently of us. That it cannot both be X and not-X at the same time in the same respect; that ideas can change the world, for better or for worse. That within limits, our destiny lies in our own hands.

She was right about value—though (she was probably unaware of it) the American philosopher Ralph Barton Barry had carved out much of the same domain in his Realms of Value. The deathless robot example had been used by Richard Taylor in his Good and Evil, to similarly powerful effect. Unlike Perry, Taylor drew from his working out of the concept of value a social-political ethics very similar to Rand’s, in his marvelous little book Freedom, Anarchy, and the Law, which I have occasionally used as a text in my political philosophy course. “All great minds run in the same channel,” it has been said—and while this isn’t true, more Randians should realize that other minds than Ayn Rand’s have had some of her most important ideas. The whole structure—the integrated system—is unique to her, but many of the ingredients have been created by others, often in unexpectedly subtle ways, and devotees of Rand should really appreciate this—they have often spoken as if hers was the only great mind that ever existed, and as if her ideas were spun directly from the head of Zeus.

Q: What is your vision of the future of Rand’s philosophy, say in a hundred years?

Hospers: I’m not in the prediction business. I’d say here what I always say in response to questions in ethics: “It all depends.” If free-market ideas and limited government really are the wave of the future, Rand will surely be seen as its Moses, leading the people into the promised land. But if the U.S. continues on the path to government-by-bureaucracy, Randian political ideas will remain what they are today, a discussion piece for a small but articulate minority. And in any future international crisis, the government will expand further and individualist ideas will tend to be drowned out.

Of course, her social-political philosophy is only a small part of her total philosophy, but it’s the part for which she is most famous. I doubt that her metaphysical views will take hold in the absence of her social and political ideas. They are the tail that wags the dog.

Q: What about the universities? Is getting Objectivism into the universities a valid strategic goal for the Objectivist movement?

Hospers: Universities have always been centers of statism, because professors believe they can do better when subsidized by the state than they could do in the free market. I don’t see this changing very much. Also, there are many technical issues discussed in philosophy departments on which Rand either has nothing to say or says something ill-informed because she had only a glancing acquaintance with what was going on in philosophy and other departments in the universities. Her review of John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice without having taken the trouble to read the book, is a case in point. She didn’t do enough careful work in relation to views that she opposed.

Q: Do you have any advice to graduate students in philosophy?

Hospers: Be careful and be prepared for the worst. Most heads of departments don’t like Objectivist views (if they know anything about them at all), and one is less likely to be hired—and there are many more Ph.D.s being graduated in philosophy than the present market can place. So you might have to end up teaching something else. Or not teaching at all. Don’t go into teaching unless you are really dedicated. Most students would do better to go into something that pays, and study philosophy in their spare time.

Q: What is your assessment of the quality of liberal education in America? Has it got much worse?

Hospers: Yes, it has. Science departments are still tops, but the humanities have deteriorated. Much of philosophy is still pretty solid, though there is an emphasis on courses with popular titles that teach one very little about philosophical concepts. Much of it is just junk—instead of clarifying the student’s mind, it throws more words out, which the student takes down in notes, and the student may even fancy that she has learned something in philosophy. A lecture, it’s said, is something that goes from the notes of the teacher to the notes of the student without having gone through the minds of either. Philosophy has to be done slowly and carefully, from the ground up, Oxford-tutorial style, with the teacher correcting the student at every step of the way. The large lecture-hall courses in philosophy don’t begin to do that; they may give the student the delusion that something has been learned, and meanwhile a wonderful source of wisdom and guidance to living one’s life is out there and the student never gets a hint that it’s there. It’s a tragic situation—a waste of the student’s time. Literature courses have become corrupted in different ways: instead of a systematic study of Shakespeare or Milton, one just gets “impressions” and “interpretations” (the one supposedly as good as the other). When I studied Shakespeare you couldn’t get by with such drivel—indeed you had to know the material thoroughly, and every student had powerful responses to Shakespeare’s poetry, so that it would make a difference their lives. I used to commit passages of Shakespeare to memory, repeating them out loud while driving to school—I don’t think much of this goes on any more.

Most important of all perhaps is that this is the “first illiterate generation,” brought up on television and not trained to do anything with words—to write them, to combine them creatively in essays, and to read, read, and read. Some students still read a lot—though they’d rather look up a topic on the computer and pretend they know about it than actually look at a book themselves. But even graduate students I know don’t read just for the love of it. They will read on a topic if their graduate program requires it, but just to immerse themselves in books for the sheer joy of acquainting themselves with other minds—it seems to me that’s quite rare these days.

Last year I asked my ethics class to write a few pages on justice, before we discussed the topic in the course. Most of the papers were ill-organized and inarticulate, and the kids wrote as if “anything goes” in using language (do we believe “anything goes” when we’re trying to repair a car?). They thought they had done well—just putting down impressions—and thought I was “much too opinionated” in correcting them, though if I’d been conscientious I would have had to write more words in commenting on their papers than they had written in the papers. Then I saw a paper that was so clear, and had such elegant simplicity, that I could barely believe it—nothing complicated, nothing even taken from books, just the working out of a few fairly simple ideas. The girl who wrote it was from Korea and had learned English only six years before, in Korea. She had learned it “the correct way,” as a foreign language, paying attention to grammar and construction. How had this girl, who had had no philosophy course before, come to do better than any of the American-born students? I remembered that until after World War II, Korea had been controlled by Japan, and no Korean was permitted to embark on higher education. There it was—in a few years the Koreans have got way ahead of us (this girl wasn’t the only example), though we may still think we’re tops. The thought that scared me was, if they can rise so fast, we can fall pretty fast too. American students are near the bottom of the list in language, mathematics, and other subjects. How can we survive if we continue in the direction we are going?

Q: Why does Borders stock so much Continental philosophy and post-modern junk? Who buys that stuff?

Hospers: Instructors like to assign it, to mystify students and show them how much more learned they (the instructors) are. But I doubt that that’s the main reason. It’s the magic of words again. There are certain words in titles, such as “the meaning of life,” which turn students on, and they think they are getting philosophy just because the book is stocked on a shelf labeled “philosophy.” They are fascinated by the occult, and often identify metaphysics with occultism of some kind—with the mysterious or the mystical, with E.S.P. and “inner revelation” as the key to knowledge. What they actually learn from all this is: nothing. But bookstores stock it because the untutored and the unwary buy it.

Q: Did you see the Sense of Life documentary? What did you think of it?

Hospers: I was moved by some parts of it, especially those parts in which Rand in her inimitable voice speaks with conviction about the topics at hand—especially in the interviews in the New Orleans gold conference, which I hadn’t heard before. I was again bowled over by her ability to say something with simple elegance, and to trace so relentlessly the consequences of her opponents’ ideas. I wanted to tell her how much she meant to all of us.

The parts dealing with the early years were revealing and moving. One disadvantage was that the film was told solely from the point of view of her followers. It would have had a richer texture if it had described some of the ideas being discussed by those who honored her and cared for her but didn’t necessarily believe that every word was sacred scripture.

Q: What is your favorite scene in Atlas Shrugged?

Hospers: There are so many—how can I choose? I guess I’d have to say the scene between Dagny and the tramp in the train, on what happened to Twentieth Century Motors, and why. It’s such a great literary piece—and it presents, as she does so well, the consequences of acting on certain ideas—in this case “To each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” When I finish reading those ten pages aloud to the class, half of them don’t understand it or don’t care, and the other half is thunderstruck—they have been hit over the head with new ideas, which they have never heard before, and they don’t quite know how to handle it or what to do about it. Many a future Objectivist has taken root from that reading in my class—and I’ve done it annually for about thirty years.

Interview with Douglas J. Den Uyl by Karen Minto

Q: Where did you grow up and what kinds of ideas influenced your early thinking?

Den Uyl: I grew up in a well-to-do suburb outside of Detroit (Birmingham, then Bloomfield Hills). My parents could be described as Goldwater-type conservative Republicans. My grandfather on my father’s side was a prominent businessman who was, I believe, reasonably well-known in national Republican circles. He was involved in trying to get General Douglas MacArthur to run for president. Political discussions were regular events in our family. I grew up hearing about the evils of communism, socialism, and Roosevelt. Thus unlike many libertarians, Objectivists, or other classical liberals, I did not convert from socialism (or some form of leftism) to my present political perspective. I was never really that attracted to leftist views in the first place. For me, therefore, what I needed to learn was that businesspeople can be statists too, just like every other group in society; for my prejudice was to equate everything said in the name of business as being pro-free-market, which it clearly is not.

Q: How do you pronounce your last name? Does it rhyme with “oil” or “aisle?”

Den Uyl: It rhymes with “aisle.” I’m used to all sorts of mispronunciations and misspellings and have a sense of humor about it all. No one who is introduced to me ever connects the sound of the name with the spelling, so there is no chance I’ll ever personally enjoy fame no matter what I write!

Q: How were you introduced to the ideas of Ayn Rand?

Den Uyl: Maybe like many teenagers, when I was 16 or 17, I was loafing around wasting my time. I was watching TV, playing in my rock band, or reading comic books. My mother was fed up with my choice of life style, particularly my reading habits. With respect to the latter, she became upset one day and bet me $5 (not unreasonable money back then) that I could not finish the longest book in the house. That turned out to be Atlas Shrugged. I guess I’m now supposed to say, “And the rest was history!” which is pretty much true. I would follow Rand and the organizations connected to her as best I could, but I was never an insider nor really even that close to the action. I never saw Rand speak, for example, and critical events, such as the collapse of NBI, went unknown to me for years. I was largely alone in my interest in Rand. My college campus was liberal but not activist, so although she had no respect there, I was left alone to pursue my interest in her without much harassment. Even the Philosophy department—which couldn’t have thought less of her—was mature enough to let me pursue my ideas as I saw them, so Rand did factor into my senior thesis. Tibor Machan at the close of my college years was really the first one to encourage me and to introduce me to others interested in Rand’s ideas, such as Eric Mack.

Q: Which particular ideas of Rand have enriched your understanding of philosophy and the world?

Den Uyl: My understanding of philosophy and the world just was Rand’s understanding (or what I took it to be) for a long time. I interpreted every issue through that framework until I went to graduate school. The bad things about that way of thinking and approaching things seems to me obvious. What we sometimes forget is the good side. With a framework or program of some sort, it is much easier to comprehend and integrate ideas and to see their general significance. As long as one is open to truth and self-criticism, making sense of the world through a given philosophy is as useful as learning to play an instrument by imitating someone else’s (a master’s) style—which is to say, very useful. But to answer your questions specifically, Rand’s deepest insight to me is the connection between Aristotelianism and classical liberalism. It is an insight whose connections still need to be explored in many ways, but one which is pregnant with possibilities and interesting research topics.

Q: What is Liberty Fund and how did you get involved with it?

Den Uyl: Liberty Fund is a private operating foundation that holds conferences on issues of liberty and personal responsibility mostly for college faculty. It began doing conferences like the ones done today a few years after the founder died (around 1976), and I have had some association with them since about that time. I went to my first Liberty Fund conference (as did Doug Rasmussen) in 1977. We were recommended to the organization by some of the businessmen in Milwaukee with whom we were involved in a monthly economics discussion group. Mr. Goodrich, the founder—an Indiana businessman, but with no connection to the tire company—was interested in great books as well as classical liberalism. He corresponded with Hayek and also knew quite well people like Baldy Harper and Leonard Read. Goodrich combined the reading of great books with his classical liberalism in a way that I guess has been a model for me also, judging from my work.

Q: Are you still teaching at Bellarmine?

Den Uyl: Yes. I am on an extended leave, but I will teach one course there next semester and may do so other semesters.

Q: Tell me about your books with Doug Rasmussen—Liberty and Nature and Liberty Defended. How did you come to collaborate with him?

Den Uyl: Doug and I spent time together in graduate school. Given the dearth of professional philosophers interested in Rand at the time, I suppose it only natural the two people in close physical proximity would get together and collaborate on something they both cared about. We also work well together because we understand each other and can communicate readily and quickly without having to explain everything. We also believe in each other in the sense that if one says something the other doesn’t understand or agree with, the other will pursue the matter until understanding is obtained (if not agreement), because we both assume that the other has good reasons for what he says.

Q: You and Doug Rasmussen also made a major contribution in our co-edited volume, Philosophic Thought Of Ayn Rand. Do you see any indication that Rand’s work is being taken more seriously by academics since the publication of your volume?

Den Uyl: Well there is the Ayn Rand Society that meets with the APA, and those sessions are generally well attended. People influenced by Rand are certainly in the academy, though they seldom footnote her in their works, which is understandable, if somewhat un-Randian. So Rand is taken seriously in that sense. But in a direct sort of way, I see improvement but the significance of it is questionable in my view. One can say that there could not have been an Ayn Rand Society connected to the APA 20 years ago. That would be true. But Philosophy as a discipline has splintered over the years and lots of associations are there now that may not have been so 20 years ago. There’s a kind of “catch 22” here that is hard to overcome: more serious scholarship on Rand is needed, but is not a ticket to promotion in most departments. Yet because Rand is still not acceptable, it is likely that only those who are promoted will be able to work on her. I am optimistic about the future, however, due to what I perceive as a new wave of popularity for Rand.

Q: A new wave of popularity? Among younger faculty, or undergraduates, I mean, what evidence suggests this to you?

Den Uyl: I’m not certain among who, but I’ve been asked to say more about Rand recently, and for a long time no one approached me at all. Since I am not a leading or “official” spokesman for Rand, if I’m being sought after, something is afoot. There is also the documentary and the movie on Rand’s life, so that too suggests to me a renewed interest. I do not believe there is any more official academic interest than I have indicated. But as students and the culture begin to talk about her again, the academy will have to deal with that in some fashion. It would be helpful to her cause if more decent work on her was being published today, so that she cannot simply be dismissed.

Q: Do you plan to do any more books with him in the future?

Den Uyl: Yes, we have another project planned, and next year brings us together again to work on it.

Q: Can you tell us what kind of project you two have planned?

Den Uyl: I cannot say too much about this project now, but I can say that we want to move away somewhat from the social/political and ethical issues to other areas of philosophy.

Q: When your book The Philosophic Thought of Ayn Rand came out, who was your target audience and what was their reaction?

Den Uyl: I suppose we thought that our audience would be academics, but I would guess it has sold mainly to people, academics or otherwise, who were already predisposed to read it. I guess then the reaction was that, for the most part, the book was ignored by academics other than those already predisposed towards it. That doesn’t necessarily mean much, however. Each generation finds new things, and that book still has a reasonable number of sales for an academic book. Moreover, its function of being an academic discussion of Rand’s philosophy is still being fulfilled even if it is not taking the academic world by storm.

Q: Tell us about the core issues in your book on Prudence. What is prudence and should it be included in the Objectivist virtues?

Den Uyl: I cannot speak about what should be on the list of Objectivist virtues, but in a way its classical sense is much like the virtue of rationality in Rand. And I may have originally wondered about prudence for somewhat Randian reasons, namely that it seems to be a virtue connected to self-interest that is not advocated much, so I wondered if an altruistic framework in ethics had driven it out. The truth, however, is rather different, as is my book. In simplest terms, prudence was the pinnacle of virtues in the classical world (recall the “four cardinal virtues” prudence, justice, temperance, and courage), but almost a non-virtue in the modern world. I wondered why that was the case, and much of the book is about that. Strangely—though this will sound a bit misleading in an interview context like this—the demotion of prudence comes in conjunction with its almost exclusive association with self-interest in modern times. There are positive parts to the book as well, and some of the rudiments of what Doug and I are interested in defending in ethics are described in that book.

Q: What did you think of Richard Kraut’s review of your book in Critical Review?

Den Uyl: I basically liked it. It was thoughtful and serious and it got some things right as well as wrong. I remember thinking at the time I read it that while some of our libertarian critics were perhaps hoping that we would be devastated by the review, it is libertarianism that takes it on the chin in that review. Even if, from Kraut’s perspective, we are wrong, we come off looking pretty sensible.

Q: Do you think Rand’s ethics needs expanding and if so, which areas would you focus on or want to change?

Den Uyl: Expanding could mean supplanting deficiencies, which would then call upon me to describe the deficiencies. What seems to me more fruitful is to say that there is more to ethics than Kant and Mill, and even Aristotle. Rand scholarship would benefit by seeing her in conjunction and comparison with other ethicists such as Smith and Hume, Spinoza, Cicero, Augustine, etc. and in light of other issues, such as the debate between the ancients and the moderns. To do this well requires, at least for a time, abandoning Rand’s gloss on the Western canon for a more sympathetic read of many of these authors. Her reading is very helpful in understanding her, but not very useful as a guide to understanding certain thinkers and doctrines. As I said earlier, it’s very useful to have a framework, provided one is not a slave to it. And one might arrive right back with that very framework after one’s search elsewhere. So much the better for the framework. But Rand to me points down a road more than leads one down it step by step. There may be many things down that road that she was unaware of, or that we are unaware of. The exploration will enrich her doctrine as well as ourselves.

Q: Which of Rand’s ideas did you disagree with? And do you still disagree with them now?

Den Uyl: As I said already, I really didn’t approach things early on in terms of what I agreed or disagreed with. Rand gave me a framework and seemed to have a lot of answers to a lot of questions I had. I’ve spent some time since then exploring the details of that framework and enlarging and enriching my understanding of many issues. So although on the one hand I was a kind of “groupie” who understood everything according to Ayn Rand, I was never comfortable with the closed character of that attitude and sought expansion, elaboration, and education as well as a need to reject anything I found wanting.

Q: What relationship does Rand’s works have to your own?

Den Uyl: Apart from work that is on Rand herself, the Aristotelian perspective, broadly understood, and her generally classical liberal orientation have informed much of what I have written in ethics and social political theory. But I have also been influenced in many ways by Leo Strauss, and have strong connections to the history of philosophy, both of which inform my work as well.

Q: Do you consider Rand as just another branch of Aristotelianism and that for scholars in the far future she will be a minor figure, or do you think she has created something entirely new and original and will be considered one of the giants in philosophic history?

Den Uyl: I don’t see her as either a minor or a major figure. I see her as analogous to Machiavelli or Bacon. They have some great insights in their own right, but they were perhaps more significant in bringing in a new perspective. For example, at one level I think Ayn Rand and Leo Strauss have done more than any two people to revive an interest in classical or ancient philosophy and its cognate subjects (e.g., virtue ethics). Neither one, Rand especially, will be given the credit they deserve for this. Rand motivates people, and she saw that the usual ways of defending certain things didn’t work. In that way I believe she will be quite important to the direction of things to come, although it is not so clear what that direction exactly will be. When people look back, however, they may see that a certain thinking was made possible because of Rand, even if the influence is not in all cases always direct.

Q: Since interest in Rand is still not acceptable in academia, what do you advise young Objectivist academics to do? Stay “in the closet” and just go under the general description of an Aristotelian, or “come out and disclose themselves” perhaps giving interest in Rand more credibility as more Objectivists “come out?”

Den Uyl: Context and personal goals will determine part of the answer to this question, and where to draw the line is difficult to state a priori. It is important to realize, however, that no one does Rand any good by not first proving they are competent to do what other professionals in their field do. Whether it be with respect to Rand or someone else, in order to convince the profession to take that person seriously, one must already have a certain degree of demonstrable professional competence. On that argument, though, Doug and I would have come out with The Philosophic Thought of Ayn Rand too early, for neither of us had done much by then. But the opportunity was there, and the timing was right for other reasons, and we hoped it would help build a platform upon which other scholars could stand, including ourselves. In any case, my general counsel is prudence in the ordinary sense, but if one is going to lean in one direction or the other it should be towards disclosure. The other way makes it too easy to rationalize cowardice. Finally, it would seem to follow from this advice that graduate students should be the most cautious, since almost by definition they are learning the profession. Young assistant professors facing tenure are the hardest group to advise. Will it turn out for them in the end as it does for Roark, and are they willing to pay that kind of price? In my own case, I’m sure some of my association with Rand has been costly to my career, but I do not think I acted rashly, and I could not have lived with myself easily if I had done any less.


Dr. Douglas B. Rasmussen is Professor of Philosophy at St. John’s University in New York City. He received his Ph.D. from Marquette University in 1980, and his B.A. from the University of Iowa in 1971. He has co-edited The Philosophic Thought of Ayn Rand (University of Illinois Press, 1984) and Liberty for the Twenty-First Century (Roman & Littlefield, 1995). He has co-authored The Catholic Bishops and the Economy: A Debate (Social Philosophy and Policy Center and Transaction Books, 1987); Liberty and Nature: An Aristotelian Defense of Liberal Order (Open Court, 1991); and Liberalism Defended: The Challenge of Post-Modernity (Edward Elgar, 1996). He has published over sixty articles and reviews dealing with issues in epistemology, philosophy of language, ethics, and political philosophy in various professional journals and books.

He has been a Bradley Scholar at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC and has received research fellowships from the Center for Libertarian Studies, the Institute for Humane Studies, the Reason Foundation, and the Earhart Foundation. He also has been a recipient of a summer seminar fellowship from the National Endowment to the Humanities and has received merit awards from St. John’s University. He was awarded by St. John’s University a medal for Outstanding Faculty Achievement in 1994. He is recently appointed Program Coordinator of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies at St. John’s University.

Dr. Rasmussen is a member of the American Philosophical Association and has presented and commented on session papers. He also is a member of the American Catholic Philosophical Association and has twice received the Matchette Award for the outstanding paper by a younger scholar at the ACPA annual meeting. He is a member of the Metaphysical Society of America and the American Association for the Philosophic Study of Society. He is a founding member of the Ayn Rand Society which meets with the APA.

Dr. Rasmussen is married. His wife, Caroline, is a clinical perfusionist at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, Long Island. He likes to travel and golf.

Ayn Rand and Objectivism: An Introduction


Anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of philosophy, history, politics and contemporary culture must become familiar with Objectivism. Knowing who Ayn Rand was and what Objectivism is are becoming part of what it means to be culturally literate in America. There is no other writer who could more readily cut through to the essence of an issue, explain it, resolve it, and impress the reader with the urgency that everyone understand it. She could show, like no one else, how and why philosophical ideas matter–and matter everywhere … in our personal lives, in movie theaters, book stores and art museums, in parliament or Congress.

Ayn Rand’s fiction depicted man “as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.” The Objectivist  vision of the possibilities for the future is vivid and compelling, as is Objectivism’s critique of contemporary politics and culture. For millions of her readers, Rand’s work has provided them with the spiritual and intellectual guidance they sought in Christianity, Judaism, or in other secular philosophical systems, but never found. For them, reading Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand’s other works has been a transformative experience.

In order to justify her secular individualistic view of man and morality, Ayn Rand elaborated a system of thought–“Objectivism”–that addressed issues in technical branches of philosophy usually left to advanced students and academics. Objectivism is routinely dismissed by academic scholars, however, for a few reasons. Rand’s prose reflects the dramatic sensibilities of her fictional writing: it is direct, uncompromising, essentialistic, and wrought with emotion; it is therefore usually lacking in scholarly rigour. Rand eschewed the apparatus and dry style of scholarly writing, and was never published by an academic press. As well, Objectivism, as a philosophical system, is technically incomplete in many areas.

Despite the neglect of Objectivism by academicians, their studies, too, can benefit from serious consideration of the arguments Ayn Rand sketched. (The who have discovered this attend IOS’ Summer Seminars, the Ayn Rand Society meetings of The American Philosophical Association, or subscribe to one of the several lists on the the internet that discuss her ideas at an advanced level.) Objectivism is a motherlode awaiting a philosophical gold rush, the vanguard of the Second Enlightenment.

Here are some of Rand’s central and distinctive contributions:

ObjectivismOther theories
Metaphysicsnext.gif (114 bytes) primacy of existencenext.gif (114 bytes) atheismnext.gif (114 bytes) non-reductive monismnext.gif (114 bytes) causal realismprimacy of consciousnesstheismdualism and materialismHumean anti-realism
Epistemologynext.gif (114 bytes) perceptual realismnext.gif (114 bytes) concepts as abstract ideasnext.gif (114 bytes) objective knowledgerepresentationalism and idealismnominalism, classical realismintrinsicism, subjectivism, faith
Ethics and Value Theorynext.gif (114 bytes) naturalistic value theorynext.gif (114 bytes) rational egoismnext.gif (114 bytes) the trader principleconventionalism, relativismaltruism, dutythe rule of force
Politicsnext.gif (114 bytes) individual rightsnext.gif (114 bytes) limited governmentnext.gif (114 bytes) laissez-faire capitalismgroup & positive rightspaternalistic statism,
central planning,tyranny, socialism, fascism, anarchism
Estheticsnext.gif (114 bytes) art as applied metaphysicsnext.gif (114 bytes) romantic realismart as imitationnaturalism,