Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand

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Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand
Cover of the first edition, showing photograph of Rand in her New York office, 1974
AuthorLeonard Peikoff
CountryUnited States
SeriesAyn Rand Library
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardcover and Paperback)
Pages493 (first edition)
ISBN0-525-93380-8 (hardcover)
ISBN 0-452-01101-9 (paperback)

Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand is a 1991 book by the philosopher Leonard Peikoff, in which the author discusses the ideas of his mentor, Ayn Rand. Peikoff describes it as "the first comprehensive statement" of Rand's philosophy, Objectivism.[1] The book is based on a series of lecture courses that Peikoff first gave in 1976 and that Rand publicly endorsed. Peikoff states that only Rand was qualified to write the definitive statement of her philosophic system, and that the book should be seen as an interpretation "by her best student and chosen heir."[2] The book is volume six of the "Ayn Rand Library" series edited by Peikoff.


Peikoff discusses Rand's views on metaphysics and epistemology, which she considered the fundamental branches of philosophy. He also covers Rand's views on ethics, politics and esthetics, which she considered to be derived from those fundamentals.[3] In an epilogue titled "The Duel between Plato and Aristotle", Peikoff discusses the Objectivist philosophy of history.


Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand was praised by many of Peikoff's fellow Objectivist thinkers as a comprehensive presentation of Rand's philosophy. Harry Binswanger, writing in the Objectivist magazine The Intellectual Activist, credited Peikoff with providing the first "full, systematic, non-fiction expression" of Objectivism, as well as "many electrifying ideas, elegant formulations, and majestic overviews".[4] In a treatise defending Rand's ethics, the philosopher Tara Smith took Peikoff's book as "an authoritative source of [Rand's] views".[5] Edward W. Younkins wrote that Rand's ideas were "authoritatively described and systematically explained" by Peikoff.[6] According to non-Objectivist Rand scholar Mimi Reisel Gladstein, "The reader who wants a comprehensive view of orthodox Objectivism as it has evolved since Rand's death should start with Peikoff's book."[7]

Peikoff's "orthodox" approach to Rand's ideas drew criticism. Rand scholar Chris Matthew Sciabarra described Peikoff's approach as "noncritical".[8] Non-orthodox Objectivist philosopher David Kelley wrote that Peikoff's introduction of the book as both a "definitive statement" and "interpreted" was "a tortured effort" based on fallacies.[9] The philosopher Leslie Armour, writing in Library Journal, called Peikoff an "authorized evangelist" and "official expositor" who was too "bound to the received word" to write a good defense of Rand's ideas. He described Peikoff's claim that monopolies achieved under capitalism depend on merit and do no harm as "odd".[10]

Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand received a negative review from P. Foster in Canadian Business.[11] David Ramsay Steele, writing in Liberty, described Peikoff's effort as "slapdash" and filled with positions that were "wrong, vacuous or trite".[12] The philosopher Henry B. Veatch wrote that Peikoff should have "paid a more discerning and discriminating attention to present-day academic philosophy," instead of "simply brushing academic ethics aside".[13]


  1. ^ Peikoff, Leonard (1991). Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. New York: Dutton. p. xiii. ISBN 0-525-93380-8.
  2. ^ Peikoff, Leonard (1991). Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. New York: Dutton. pp. xiv–xv. ISBN 0-525-93380-8.
  3. ^ Smith, Tara (2005). "Peikoff, Sylvan Leonard (1933- )". In Shook, John R. (ed.). The Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers. Vol. 4. London: Thoemmes Continuum. p. 1889. ISBN 1-84371-037-4. OCLC 53388453.
  4. ^ Binswanger, Harry (November 1991). "Book Review: Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand". The Intellectual Activist. 5 (7): 4–5.
  5. ^ Smith, Tara (2006). Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 6. ISBN 0-521-86050-4. OCLC 60971741.
  6. ^ Younkins, Edward W. (2007). Champions of a Free Society: Ideas of Capitalism's Philosophers and Economists. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. p. 201. ISBN 978-0-7391-2647-9. OCLC 228676591.
  7. ^ Gladstein, Mimi Reisel (1999). The New Ayn Rand Companion. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 105. ISBN 0-313-30321-5. OCLC 40359365.
  8. ^ Sciabarra, Chris Matthew (1995). Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press. p. 2. ISBN 0-271-01440-7. OCLC 31133644.
  9. ^ Kelley, David (2000). The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand: Truth and Toleration in Objectivism. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers. p. 108. ISBN 0-7658-0863-3. OCLC 44727861.
  10. ^ Armour, Leslie (1991). "Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (review)". Library Journal. 116.
  11. ^ Foster, P. (1992). "Learning to love the Rand formula". Canadian Business. 65 (3).  – via EBSCO's Academic Search Complete (subscription required)
  12. ^ Steele, David Ramsay (January 1992). "Peikoff's Objectivism: An Autopsy". Liberty. 5 (3): 68. https://libertyunbound.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Liberty_Magazine_January_1992.pdf
  13. ^ Veatch, Henry B. (January 1992). "Might 'Objectivism' Ever Become Academically Respectable?". Liberty. 5 (3): 62, 65. https://libertyunbound.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Liberty_Magazine_January_1992.pdf

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