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Customer Review

on March 9, 2003
THE AYN RAND LEXICON is an alphabetically organized collection of excerpts from the writings of Ayn Rand and other Objectivists. A concept or topic is listed, and excerpts from Objectivist writings follow. For example, the entry "Renaissance" contains three paragraphs from Ayn Rand, one from Leonard Peikoff, and a multiple paragraph entry from an article in "The Objectivist" by Mary Ann Sures.
According to the editor, Harry Binswanger, Rand approved of the idea for the LEXICON and was consulted during the early stages of production. (Rand died in 1982 and this work came out in 1986.) Needless to say, one's opinion of this work will in large part depend on one's view of Rand and Objectivism.
On the positive side, this is a useful way to look up what Rand believed on a variety of topics. Her writing was crisp and at times insightful, and at other times simplistic and ill informed. Take the above section on "Renaissance." Rand thought the Renaissance represented the rebirth of reason and Aristotelianism, but there is no indication that Rand studied this period of history. These excerpts (and her writings in general) show no understanding that the Renaissance represented the rebirth of Platonism. In fact, I'm not aware of a single Renaissance figure that Rand ever discussed in any detail.
As I stated, THE AYN RAND LEXICON contains excerpts from Rand and her associates. Following Rand, the most entries are Peikoff's with a smattering of others. I'd say Rand makes up about 80% to 85% of the book. Most of the additional entries are those that were published under Rand's auspices, so I assume they represent "official Objectivism." On other hand, when Rand broke with the Brandens in 1968, she said that their writings published prior to the break were consistent with Objectivism. Why have none of these writings been included?
A good compliment to this work is THE AYN RAND READER, published in 1999. The excerpts are much lengthier and contain no writings from second-handers. If you want to know what a "second-hander" is, check the LEXICON and "check the premises" of the Official Objectivist movement.
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