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For the New Intellectual; the Philosophy of Ayn Rand Study Guide & Plot Summary

This Study Guide consists of approximately 36 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of For the New Intellectual; the Philosophy of Ayn Rand.
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For the New Intellectual; the Philosophy of Ayn Rand Summary & Study Guide Description

For the New Intellectual; the Philosophy of Ayn Rand Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on For the New Intellectual; the Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Ayn Rand.

Plot Summary

Ayn Rand, whose real name was Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum (1905-1982) was one of the 20th century's great American novelist. Originally, Russian, she not only wrote novels, but plays and movies as well. She was widely seen as an important social philosopher. Rand has become famous from her novel sales but particularly due to the ideas that she placed at the core, ideas she tied together in a system she called Objectivism. Rand published her two most famous books, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged in 1943 and 1957 respectively. It is particularly in the last book that she makes her philosophical commitments clear.

Rand understands her primary metaphysical view as one of metaphysical realism. She believes that the world exists and that there are objective, true or false claims that can be made about it. On Rand's view, the universe is mind-independent: it does not rely on consciousness for its existence. Further, she believes that the oft-discussed dichotomy between body and soul is false, arguing instead that the human being is a compound of form and matter. In both these aspects she follows Aristotle, who she considered history's greatest philosopher.

Rand also has a theory of knowledge, or epistemology, which she understands primarily in terms of reason, which takes sensory experience and organizes it according to its conceptual structure. Concepts, for Rand, refer to facts, and so the structure reason gives to concepts generate knowledge. Concepts are neither beyond the world nor merely in the mind. As a result, good reasoning leads to knowledge of objective truth.

Ayn Rand's ethics begins by asking what ethics is for. For Rand, the answer is happiness. The human being is a living thing and has to choose between a principle of life or death; what makes human life unique is its free will and ability to think. However, thinking is inherently volitional and requires a choice on behalf of the individual. Ethics is necessary to make sense of our ends and need to survive and all ethical commitments flow directly from this rational commitment. Further, ethics commands rational egoism, or rational self-interest. Sacrificing one's life for others is inherently irrational.

Finally, Rand's politics are rooted in freedom, limited government and property rights; her novels usually include some conflict between the individual and the state, and between the individual's characteristic activity - creation and production, and the collective or state's characteristic activity - theft, parasitism, destruction. She believed that reason justified capitalism and that capitalism was the only social system compatible with man's nature.

All of these ideas are worked out in For the New Intellectuals. The problem with the modern academy is that the intellectuals have become corrupted by mystical and barbaric ideas. The New Intellectuals accept Ayn Rand's philosophical commitments, or are Objectivists. The point of For the New Intellectuals is to communicate these ideas to those who are willing to think and take back the academy from those who destroy it and consequently the rest of culture.

The book therefore includes five broad chapters. The first chapter, "For the New Intellectual" is a brief essay expounding upon the above themes. The next four chapters—"We the Living," "Anthem," "The Fountainhead," and "Atlas Shrugged"—are excerpts from Rand's four books of the same name which illustrate the philosophy introduced in the first chapter. The book ends with John Galt's famous 100-page speech in Atlas Shrugged, which lays out the philosophy of objectivity in detail.

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This section contains 573 words
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Purchase our For the New Intellectual; the Philosophy of Ayn Rand Study Guide
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For the New Intellectual; the Philosophy of Ayn Rand from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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