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Sunday, October 17, 2004

The mention of Ayn Rand evokes strong emotions. Just how much a person's judgment
of her work has been swayed by her personal life is a good question. If you read Rarebits regularly, you will notice that I have reviewed several biographical works in addition to The Fountainhead in the past couple of years (see for issues 99 and 112) Certainly, she had little tolerance for those who disagreed with or or presented opposing viewpoints, could often be hypercritical, and often resorted to ad hominem attacks. Her critics fall into the same trap. For the New Intellectual is a meaty little book of selections from Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead and very short speeches from Anthem and We the Living. The best part of the book, "For the New Intellectual," is her impassioned plea for rational thinking, reason, and the development of philosophy and intellectualism to counteract the forces of "Attila" and "Witch Doctors."

"The tragic joke of human history is that on any of the altars men erected, it was always man whom they immolated and the animal whom they enshrined. It was always the animal's attributes, not man's that humanity worshipped: the idol of instinct and the idol of force--the mystics and the kings--the mystics who longed for an irresponsible consciousness and ruled by means of the claim that their dark emotions were superior to reason, that knowledge came in blind, causeless fits, blindly to be followed, not doubted--and the kings, who ruled by means of claws and muscles, with conquest as their method and looting as their aim, with a club or a gun as sole sanction of their power." John Galt in Atlas Shrugged
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