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Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature Paperback – August 15, 2001


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Greg Nyquist is a freelance writer and independent scholar specializing in economics and philosophy. He has served as contributing editor to Dispatches and WorldNet magazines and is webmaster and assistant editor at jrnyquist.com, the controversial opinion website. He has appeared several times on the Jeff Nyquist's "Out of the Box" Radio show. Since March of 2000 he has written many articles and blog posts detailing the excesses in credit markets and warning of an impending financial meltdown. He is author of Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature, considered in some quarters as the most important critique of Rand's philosophy. He lives in Eureka, California.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: iUniverse (August 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0595196330
  • ISBN-13: 978-0595196333
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,012,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Damien Feick on January 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
If you are an Objectivist, you may want to read this and attempt to write a book refuting his arguments. I don't agree with all of Greg's arguments, but many of them are devastating, especially his scientific arguments. Just as bad for Rand's supporters, he shows that much of her reasoning is based on fallacies. He basically points out that she abandoned reason in the name of reason. Please don't comment on what I said, until you read the whole book. You can't fully understand his critique by just reading one chapter.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David Hoffman on July 7, 2014
Format: Paperback
I have had somewhat ambiguous feelings about Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism ever since I first discovered her in college. I agree with much of what she had to say: freedom, capitalism, and the use of reason are good; tyranny, socialism, and living off others are bad. Nevertheless, I have always felt vaguely repelled by her writings. Perhaps it is because I feel a slight malevolence underlying much of what she wrote. Ayn Rand was never one to forgive an enemy or maintain a friendship with someone of an opposing philosophy. Maybe the figures in her fiction are not much like real human beings. The heroes are completely good with no flaws, the villains completely evil with no redeeming characteristics. I am sure.

It is for that reason that I read Greg Nyquist’s Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature. Mr. Nyquist is a critic of Ayn Rand, but he takes a different approach than most of her critics. He does not spend much time examining the details of her philosophy, except to note where Objectivism is contradictory or incomplete. He does not refute Objectivism on a philosophical basis. In fact, at some points he concedes, for the sake of argument, that Objectivism is the most ideal philosophy imaginable. He also does not criticize Ayn Rand on a personal basis, except to show where her personality characteristics shaped Objectivism.

What Greg Nyquist does instead is ask whether Ayn Rand and Objectivism actually works. Mr. Nyquist does not have much use for windy speculations about metaphysics or wordy conjectures about the way things ought to be. He is a practical man. He wants to know whether the assumptions about humanity and the world made by Ayn Rand that form the basis of Objectivism are actually in accordance with the observed facts.
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28 of 40 people found the following review helpful By merjet on May 15, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author offers a few worthwhile criticisms of Rand's philosophy, but there is far too much spite. He regularly claims her philosophy is vague and superficial, simply her subjective prejudices, lacks empirical support, and consists of verbalisms having little to do with reality. Despite this, he agrees with significant chunks of it! In the Introduction he says, "None of Rand's views on human nature, epistemology, history, ethics, or politics bother me all that much." Why then all the spite?

To a great extent the Introduction is one long rant and could be skipped or read after the rest of the book. Such a start undercuts the author's credibility and highlights his emotional dislike of Rand. Then there are his own flawed ideas. For example, he says there is no such thing as induction, yet repeatedly makes generalizations about Rand.

Chapter 1 - Theory of Human Nature

The author gives two basic conceptions of human nature - naturalistic and utopian. He considers himself an extreme naturalist and Rand a utopian. Are there no other alternatives? Rand was surely an idealist (ordinary sense, not the philosophical one). She thought the world could be a better place. If he completely disagrees with that, he is as much fatalistic as naturalistic.

He regards her philosophy not as the search for truth, but her means of projecting the ideal man. Her standard of human greatness is so unrealistic no man could ever meet it. Only her fictional characters could. Of course, some of them are near superhero status, but that doesn't imply real people can't be geniuses, rational, courageous, or have integrity.

The author says Rand's theory of human nature is based on the human mind having complete control over the body and will.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Doctor S 457337 on December 23, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A long-term "student of Objectivism," I welcome books which offer an intelligent, thoughtful, unbiased evaluation of Rand's ideas. Rand herself said, "Think!" Thinking is good for everyone, and that is just what Nyquist has done.

As background and preparation, he has undertaken the strenuous initiative of seriously studying a great many prominent thinkers and philosophers who wrote work relevant to this book. Perhaps because he has maintained a website featuring critical discussion of Rand's work, he has drawn fire in some of the book's reviews. While there are passages and words which are going to be inflammatory in this book, I personally chose to ignore all of these and focus on only the abundant reason and many supported conclusions herein presented.

It seems that Nyquist studied Rand quite well; I believe in one or two places, he missed Rand's meaning or intent; overall, it is a good representation with references, albeit with many times quotes by Leonard Peikoff written after Rand's death. At points, it appears as if Peikoff is clarifying or even extending Rand; yet it seems true that now, for most people, Peikoff speaks fully and finally for Rand. These days, even the new edition covers of her novels indicate they are authored by "Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff."

This book begins by noting that Rand's works make her one of the most widely read philosophers of the twentieth century and one of the most enduring writers of any generation, yet Rand's work has not been subject to a genuinely intelligent and penetrating criticism. For me, the books of Albert Ellis and Jeff Walker are intelligent as well as penetrating.
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