Saturday, 6 January 2018

Ayn Rand, the Hedgehog; Aristotle, the Fox

Peter Saint-Andre has done an analysis of Ayn Rand’s sayings on Aristotle in his article, “Our Man in Greece: On the Use and Abuse of Aristotle in the Works of Ayn Rand.”

He claims that even though Ayn Rand has stated that the only philosophical debt that she can acknowledge is to Aristotle, she has consistently misinterpreted Aristotle's philosophy in her articles. Taking a leaf out of Isaiah Berlin’s The Hedgehog and the Fox, Saint-Andre claims that there is a fundamental difference between Rand’s approach to philosophy and that of Aristotle. Rand, he says, is like the hedgehog, while Aristotle is like the Fox.

I think Saint-Andre is being excessively harsh on Rand. She has given a fairly accurate description of Aristotle’s philosophy and his role in history in her nonfiction and even in her fiction—the three parts of Atlas Shrugged are named in honor of Aristotle's laws of logic. Her bestselling novels have made many readers aware of Aristotle’s greatness.

However, I also think that there is a lot of wisdom in this article by Saint-Andre, and in the other articles that he offers on his website. His perspectives on Rand’s ideas and various aspects of her philosophical method and life can help the followers of Rand in getting rid of their dogmatism and developing a more balanced outlook on history, philosophy and politics.

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