- Paperback: 488 pages
- Publisher: iUniverse, Inc. (June 2, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0595351530
- ISBN-13: 978-0595351534
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,638,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Age of Rand: Imagining an Objectivist Future World 0th Edition
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About the Author
Frederick Cookinham, 51, offers a series of walking tours called Ayn Rand?s New York. He has been observing the Objectivist and libertarian movements for thirty-seven years, and has written for several movement magazines. He lives in Queens, New York with his wife, Belen. Visit his website, www.centurywalkingtours.com for more information.
Top customer reviews
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The book contains well written explanations of Rand's concepts together with mention of movies and books by other authors that have tie-ins. I will be reading a few of the cited books in the future.
I also enjoyed the historical blurbs, particularly regarding New York City history and numerous comments about George Washington. I happen to read a lot about both Washington and Rand and was pleasantly surprised to find both featured in the same book.
My only criticism is that I cannot understand how the author can advocate the "non-aggression principle" of Objectivism while praising labor unions at the same time.
John Christmas, author of "Democracy Society"
I just don't think Rand and her followers managed to pull it off, and Cookinham's science fiction shows why. Rand constructed an elaborate world view based on the idea that the human mind has complete sovereignty over itself, hence the rhetoric about man's "self-made soul" and the like. But in reality we have plenty of empirical evidence that Objectivism's fundamental premise doesn't map reality in the least. Premodern observations about a nonrational "human nature" have converged with modern neuroscience and the more controversial insights from evolutionary psychology to show that the real work of the mind happens in unconscious brain processes which our conscious minds cannot access. The brain then generates "consciousness" as a kind of false memory or hardwired hallucination about 300 milliseconds after the fact (experiments have actually measured this) to rationalize in an overwhelmingly convincing way what the brain just did, even if the rationalization makes no sense to outside observers, as often happens in patients with certain kinds of brain lesions. Terror management theorists in psychology have also demonstrated through experiments how reminders of death ("mortality salience") make people defend irrational behavior directed towards eliminating sources of danger, for example, the Objectivist calls for a genocide of Muslims after 9-11.
If, as the evidence suggests, humans have no deep understanding of, and control over, their minds, then an Objectivist "Age of Rand" simply can't get started.
And while Cookinham does allow that we could conquer aging and death some day, in the meantime these hard biological realities make Objectivism unworkable both before and after the window of vigorous adulthood. As an article in Reason magazine about Rand last year points out,
"In its pure form, Rand's philosophy would work very well indeed if human beings were never helpless and dependent through no fault of their own. Thus, it's hardly surprising that so many people become infatuated with Objectivism as teenagers and "grow out of it" later, when concerns of family, children, and old age--their own and their families'--make that fantasy seem more and more impossible."
Rand clearly felt uncomfortable with the facts that women have babies, that men often have to renounce a considerable number of personal values (e.g., sex without familial obligations) to support them, and that we wind up old, sick and eventually dead any way no matter how much wealth we can accumulate. (Notice that Rand portrays Hank Rearden's having an elderly mother a misfortune he readily abandons when he joins the strike.) Yet she formulated her "ethics," so called, by ignoring childhood and assuming that we can only die from misadventures, even though no amount of Objectivist philosophy and money-making can keep you alive longer than those relatively poor people who make the record books by living past 120 years. People who want to live like Rand's heroes, really can't do so under current circumstances. So you might as well use Rand's novels for door stops, go read what modern science has revealed about human nature, and start your project of philosophical reconstruction over from scratch.
Mr. Cookinham, a native of New York City, a student and participant in the Objectivist movement for some thirty years, and the originator of an Ayn Rand-oriented walking tour in NYC, is ideally equipped to explain what Ayn Rand and Objectivism is all about.
Based on his first-hand knowledge of both the philosophy and the movement(s) that developed around it, Mr. Cookinham explains what has attracted so many people, how some have successfully applied Objectivist principles to further their life and careers, and also why a vocal minority instead descended into factionalism and other infighting.
But above the description of the philosophy and the colorful personalities (in addition to Ayn Rand) that developed and/or were attracted to it, the author goes on to develop some intriguing speculations on what the future might hold for this dynamic philosophy. He offers some optimistic (and some not-so-optimistic) scenarios on where Objectivism may be heading and the effects that its continued growth may have on the culture.
But it is this thought-provoking focus on "imagining an Objectivist future world" that makes this book stand out and sets it apart from all the other published surveys of Ayn Rand and her ideas. This is a first-rate achievement!