Blackwell Publishing will soon be bringing out a Companion to Ayn Rand. It’s edited by the late Allan Gotthelf, who was a very gifted interpreter of Aristotle at the University of Pittsburgh and other strong universities, and by Gregory Salmieri, a Visiting Fellow at Boston College.
Now I haven’t much cared for the other Blackwell Companion volumes that I’ve read — the structurally similar Cambridge Companion volumes seem to be systematically superior. Nevertheless, this is the first time since Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand, edited by Sciabarra and Gladstein in 1999, that a serious interpretive series has had a Rand volume.
Neither the Amazon nor Blackwell pages have anything but boilerplate information about the content, but I would guess that they have populated its pages with the same people involved in recent Objectivist conference proceedings, some of whom are Randians, some of whom are sympathetic, and some of whom write in such a way as to give the impression that they have had a favor called in by Prof. Gotthelf.
Given that it is edited by true believers (regardless of Gotthelf’s well-earned scholarly reputation), I don’t expect much attending to the details, the places in Rand’s purported system where reason gives out and a gap is covered by sheer rhetoric and puffery. But maybe someone will say something useful — someone had better, since the damned thing’ll run $126.61 and I guess I’ll have to read it. (Hopefully, the market — by which I mean amazon.com — has heard the plea of the consumer and will put out a kindle version.)
Speaking of books that I don’t anticipate enjoying reading, Peter Schwartz’s In Defense of Selfishness will be out in a couple of days. Schwartz was previously most noted for arguing at genuinely tedious length that libertarianism is, by nature, a groundless whim for anarchism that naturally allies itself with terrorists and totalitarianism. As that is a very silly claim, one is not optimistic about his latest effort.
While it’s a little dreary to have to read these things, on the up side, the fact that Rand publication is rapidly increasing in quantity and prestige definitely shows a need for my book — before some meaningful fragment of novice philosophers come to think that Rand was seriously onto something, was marginalized, and constitutes a subaltern voice deserving of their attention.
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