Magazine article Ideas on Liberty

Ayn Rand and Business

Magazine article Ideas on Liberty

Ayn Rand and Business

Article excerpt

Ayn Rand and business

by Donna Greiner and Theodore Kinni

Texere [bullet] 2001 [bullet] 209 pages [bullet] $22.95 hardcover

What sort of book is this? Perhaps the best answer is to say that an alternate title could be: Ayn Rand for Dummies. Indeed, that might be a better title, for the book is a very elementary introduction to Rand and her thought. It is well written and organized, providing an accurate account of the basic tenets of Rand's philosophy. Moreover, the book offers the right combination of personal vignettes, scandal, and inspiration to satisfy the beginner who wants to be entertained as well as informed. It thus serves well as a book that one might give someone who has finished one of Rand's novels and now wants to know a little more.

The book is divided into three parts. Part one, "Ayn Rand and Objectivism," provides an account of Rand's life, her affair and breakup with Nathaniel Branden, and the rudiments of her philosophy. Part two, "Randian Work," describes in eight brief chapters the central virtues of Rand's ethical egoism. These chapters home in on "Rand's ideas regarding the personal characteristics of effective people." Part three, "Randian Management," explores the implications of Rand's thought for managing and leading organizations-in effect, for managerial ethics.

The presentation of Rand's philosophy, as well as the central virtues of ethical egoism, never strays far from Rand's language, and there is no attempt, beyond the usual contrasting of egoism with altruism, to place Rand's thought in an intellectual context. The reader never learns of works that are sympathetic and supportive of the rejection of altruism-for example, such works as Henry Veatch's Rational Man (1962) or David Norton's Personal Destinies (1976). Rand is thus made to appear as entirely original, as if no one else ever shared her commitment to the ethical centrality and sanctity of individual human life.

Though integrated nicely with examples from Rand's fiction, the discussion of the virtues does not consider their place in the lives of "effective people." Are the virtues-independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, and pride-practiced only because they are means to individual well-being, or are they also practiced for their own sake because they are constituents or expressions of such living? Also, do effective people ever have a place for treating others as more than merely means to their well-being? …

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