Objectivism and the Corruption of Rationality

A Critique of Ayn Rand's Epistemology

By Scott Ryan


[You are reading Objectivism and the Corruption of Rationality. This e-text version is copyright © 2002 by Scott Ryan. All rights reserved. Permission to make printed copies solely for personal use -- not for distribution or sale -- is hereby granted. Permission to make copies for any other reason may be sought by contacting the author by e-mail at SandGRyan@att.net . This information is repeated at the end of this page.]

[Scott Ryan's home page] [Essays on Objectivism]


I originally wrote this e-book in early 1999, but I've edited and revised it repeatedly since that time. Please note that the link to the bibliography page that used to be here has been temporarily disabled; I'll reactivate it after I finish cleaning up the reference list.


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[Down to Detailed table of contents]


Short table of Contents

Foreword [5.65KB]
Chapter 0 Introduction: Why Critique Ayn Rand's Epistemology? [31.7KB]
Chapter 1 The (Genuine) Problem of Universals [26.1KB]
Chapter 2 The Optical Illusion of Objectivism [65.8KB]
Chapter 3 Sensation, Perception, and the Tabula Rasa Mind [48.1KB]
Chapter 4 The Mind's Activity in Concept-Formation: Universals, Units, and Natural Kinds [39.9KB]
Chapter 5 Rand's Theory of Measurement-Omission [39.7KB]
Chapter 6 Concepts, Propositions, and Truth [42.6KB]
Chapter 7 Universals, Particulars, and Direct Realism [33.3KB]
Chapter 8 Two Views of Reason [68.4KB]
Chapter 9 Axioms and Concepts [71.0KB]
Chapter 10 The Correspondence Theory of Truth [31.4KB]
Chapter 11 The "Primacy of Existence" vs. the "Primacy of Consciousness" [38.9KB]
Chapter 12 Values and Volition: The Objectivist Ethics [98.6KB]
Chapter 13 The Tale of the Self-Preceding Man [73.2KB]
Afterword [14.3KB]
Appendix Theism, Rationalism, and Objective Idealism [17.8KB]
Bibliography [I'll reactivate the link after I clean the page up]

Detailed table of Contents

Foreword [5.65KB]
Chapter 0 Introduction: Why Critique Ayn Rand's Epistemology? [37.1KB]
Why bother?
A minimal idealism
Fear of religion
Rand the idealist?
Chapter 1 The (Genuine) Problem of Universals [26.1KB]
What is a universal?
Scenes from a "workshop"
Chapter 2 The Optical Illusion of Objectivism [65.8KB]
Rand the nominalist?
Rand's statement of the problem
Is there a "third way"?
Rand the realist?
The unclearness of her intent
A failure of introspection
Rand's antireligious motivation
Chapter 3 Sensation, Perception, and the Tabula Rasa Mind [48.1KB]
Rand's non-account of sensation vs. perception
Peikoff's problematic account
Two Objectivist counterarguments
Improving the Objectivist account
How does a blank slate learn to perceive?
Implicit idealism, explicit empiricism
Chapter 4 The Mind's Activity in Concept-Formation: Universals, Units, and Natural Kinds [39.9KB]
Why Rand's concern about the mind's "activity"?
Roy Wood Sellars: logical conceptualist and ontological nominalist
Knowledge without universals?
Perceiving things as units
Are "kinds" real or not?
Innovations or failures?
Chapter 5 Rand's Theory of Measurement-Omission [39.7KB]
A realistic resemblance theory
Perceiving commensurability?
Apprehending logical relations
Measurement without measurements?
Sense and reference, idea and object
Chapter 6 Concepts, Propositions, and Truth [42.6KB]
Truth: a matter of propositions
"Invalid" concepts: from where?
Rand the idealist vs. Rand the empiricist (again)
Contextually absolute knowledge
Objectivism and pragmatism
Chapter 7 Universals, Particulars, and Direct Realism [33.3KB]
Is Rand a direct realist?
Direct awareness of entities
An entity is its attributes
Universals and particularity
The collapse of Objectivism's perceptual realism
Chapter 8 Two Views of Reason [68.4KB]
Rand's view of reason
Blanshard's view of reason
Objectivism's deflationary account of necessity
Necessity in causation
Nondeterministic causation and the principle of sufficient reason
Objectivism and explanation
Straw-man determinism
Chapter 9 Axioms and Concepts [71.0KB]
Objectivism and the a priori
Are "axiomatic concepts" concepts?
Implicit reliance on a priori insight
"Stolen concepts" and the absolute presuppositions of thought
More fear of religion
What does Rand mean by "concept"?
Still more implicit idealism
Chapter 10 The Correspondence Theory of Truth [31.4KB]
Rand's theory of truth
Correspondence or not?
Association with "external realism"
Does correspondence preclude coherence?
Rand's inconsistent "external realism"
Chapter 11 The "Primacy of Existence" vs. the "Primacy of Consciousness" [38.9KB]
Rand's fundamental dichotomy
Atheism as Rand's philosophical motivation
"Existence exists"
A false dichotomy and a presumption of materialism
Disconnecting the mind from reality
Chapter 12 Values and Volition: The Objectivist Ethics [98.6KB]
Idolizing autonomy
Rand's theory of value
Objectivism's subjectivist ethic
Ethical axioms?
Moral obligations not arising from the "choice to live"
One's life as one's "highest value"
"Egoism vs. altruism" as a false dichotomy
Dueling axioms
Unchosen obligations and their grounding in an ideal common end
Rand on capitalism, liberty, and the "common man"
Chapter 13 The Tale of the Self-Preceding Man [73.2KB]
The emergence of consciousness from matter?
Objectivism and dehumanizing
The illusion of a moral standard
"Man qua man: deriving "is" from "ought"
Humans and subhumans
Misconceiving justice
The sanction of the victim
Afterword [14.3KB]
Appendix Theism, Rationalism, and Objective Idealism [17.8KB]
Bibliography [I'll reactivate the link after I clean the page up]

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[Up to Detailed table of contents]


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[Scott Ryan's home page] [Essays on Objectivism]

[You are reading Objectivism and the Corruption of Rationality. This e-text version is copyright © 2002 by Scott Ryan. All rights reserved. Permission to make printed copies solely for personal use -- not for distribution or sale -- is hereby granted. Permission to make copies for any other reason may be sought by contacting the author by e-mail at SandGRyan@att.net . This information also appears at the top of this page.]