Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology

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Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 1979 edition.jpg
Cover of the 1979 New American Library edition
Author Ayn Rand
Country United States
Language English
Subject Epistemology
Publication date
  • 1979 (1st edition)
  • 1990 (2nd edition)
Media type Print (Hardcover and Paperback)
  • 164 (1st edition)
  • 314 (2nd edition)
ISBN 0-451-61751-7 (1st edition)
ISBN 0-452-01030-6 (2nd edition)
OCLC 20353709

Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology is a work of philosophy by Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff. Rand considered it her philosophical treatise. First published in its combined form in 1979, the majority of the book is Rand's summation of the Objectivist theory of concepts and solution to the problem of universals. An additional essay by Peikoff discusses the analytic–synthetic distinction. A second edition published in 1990 includes transcripts of a discussion session Rand conducted on epistemology.


The first several chapters of the book are a title essay by Rand. She discusses the mental processes of conceptualization, the nature of definitions, distinguishing legitimate concepts from "anti-concepts," the hierarchical nature of knowledge, and what constitutes valid axiomatic knowledge. Rand describes axiomatic concepts as "the identification of a primary fact of reality, which cannot be analyzed, i.e., reduced to other facts or broken into component parts". The three axiomatic concepts identified in the book are "existence", "identity" and "consciousness". Following Rand's chapters, Peikoff's essay argues against Immanuel Kant's distinction between "analytic" propositions (which are said to be true based on their meaning alone) and "synthetic" propositions (which are said to be true based on how their meaning relates to the world).

The second edition contains a transcript of Rand's "Question-and-Answer" session with various professors and students of philosophy, mathematics, and physics, following a lecture series she gave on epistemology between 1969 and 1971.

Publication history[edit]

Rand's title essay was originally serialized in The Objectivist from July 1966 to February 1967, then reprinted by the Nathaniel Branden Institute later in 1967 as a booklet. Peikoff's essay was first published in The Objectivist in its May 1967 to September 1967 issues. The combined book was published by New American Library in 1979. The same publisher also put out the revised edition, co-edited by Peikoff and Harry Binswanger, in 1990.


Both the original and revised editions of the book received relatively little attention from reviewers,[1] although there was a review in the journal Teaching Philosophy.[2]


  1. ^ Berliner, Michael S. (2000). "Ayn Rand in Review" (PDF). Archives Annual: The Newsletter of the Ayn Rand Archives. 3. pp. 22–23. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 22, 2011. 
  2. ^ O'Neill, William F. (Fall 1980). "Reviews: Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology". Teaching Philosophy. 3 (4): 511–516. doi:10.5840/teachphil19803444. 

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