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Reason and Value: Aristotle Versus Rand [Paperback]

Roderick T. Long
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 2000
Auburn University professor of philosophy offers new interpretations of Aristotle and Ayn Rand in ethics and epistemology. Among the issues at stake: Does Rand's thought contain Platonic, Humean, Hobbesian, and Kantian elements? Does Aristotle share Rand's committment to sense-perception as the foundation of knowledge? What is the meaning of the ethical standard of man's life-qua-man?,... and much more. Also contains two critical commentaries and a reply by the author. Sure to ignite debate.

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Product Description

From the Author

Two of the central questions in philosophy are: What are the foundations of knowledge? and What is the nature of human well-being? Ayn Rand regarded herself as a follower of Aristotle. I argue, however, that in answering the above two questions she unfortunately deviated from Aristotle in ways that subverted her own philosophical intentions. In particular, I maintain that Rand's rejection of Aristotle's coherentist, testimony-based epistemology in favor of her own version of foundationalist empiricism both opens the door to a corrosive skepticism that she rightly wishes to avoid, and forces her into defending an instrumental survival-oriented conception of the relation of morality to self-interest, even though a constitutive, flourishing-oriented relation along Aristotelian lines would more closely match her basic ethical insights. Hence Rand's admirers may still have something to learn from Aristotle, their "teacher's first teacher." I invite readers to visit my website: geocities.com/BerserkRL Roderick T. Long

About the Author

Roderick T. Long is a professor of philosophy at Auburn University, as well as Editor of the Free Nation Foundation's journal Formulations. His principal research interests are moral psychology, Greek philosophy, and libertarian thought.

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Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars
2.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Unlike the previous reviewer, I read this book. Jan. 20 2003
By A Customer
In this engagingly written work, Long raises several sophisticated criticisms of the Objectivist theory of value and the Objectivist theory of knowledge. To really over-simplify: he rejects Rand's vitalism, i.e., he argues that it's not the case that x is valuable just in case x significantly contributes to the life of the agent. Then, he rejects her epistemology, on the grounds, basically, that if Rand's theory were true, she couldn't know that it was, and we couldn't know all kinds of things that we take ourselves to know. Long outlines the aretaic/flourishing theory with which he would replace Rand's moral theory; he introduces the contextualism with which he would replace Rand's theory of knowledge. His final theory follows Aristotle more closely than Rand does.
Now, I am not convinced that Long has gotten it right, but he certainly states some well-formulated doubts about Objectivism. The other two writers in the volume - Fred Miller and Eyal Mozes - try to resist Long's arguments, but they do not state their views precisely and clearly enough (but hey, they didn't get as much space to write in as Long). Any serious Objectivist will want to think about how to respond to Long's arguments philosophically. And by the way: this guy is no hack. This book ...is probably the best piece of serious, non-hostile, informed critical work on Objectivism ever written. This book is *SO* much better than these critical works written by mystics, Christians, and egalitarian socialists; the writer is a serious Aristotelian, . ...
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1.0 out of 5 stars A New Term for this Garbage: "Philoso-Babble" Oct. 29 2002
If the following quote from the author (see also above) says anything about his writing skills, clarity of mind, and awareness of "reason", then it's obvious who should buy this book. Come on, you reality-hating academic philosophers, crawl out of the woodwork, dust yourselves off, and buy this book!
"In particular, I maintain that Rand's rejection of Aristotle's coherentist, testimony-based epistemology in favor of her own version of foundationalist empiricism both opens the door to a corrosive skepticism that she rightly wishes to avoid, and forces her into defending an instrumental survival-oriented conception of the relation of morality to self-interest, even though a constitutive, flourishing-oriented relation along Aristotelian lines would more closely match her basic ethical insights."
But seriously, folks. Doesn't this quote make you laugh out loud? Can you believe there are people who actually spout this nonsense without blushing? Somebody tell this guy that the emperor does not, in fact, have any clothes!
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1.0 out of 5 stars Nice Try June 29 2004
By A Customer
Thank goodness that Rand departs from Aristotle on a number of points. The author has it just backwards: it is Aristotle's errors that gave rise to "corrosive skepticism" and ethical subjectivism. In arguing that there are values outside of the context of life, the author has also departed from what may be the implicit and overriding idea behind Aristotle's own thought. There still can be no values outside of that context and these arguments only confirm Rand's thesis.
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5.0 out of 5 stars THIS BOOK RAND ME OVER!!! FULL (ARIS)THROTTLE!!! March 2 2003
By A Customer
This book has changed my life. Seriously.
Amazingly enough, the author easily commands an intellect far greater than those his book is about, combined! I sleep with this book at night...
if you know what I mean.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Nov. 24 2005
By Steve Jackson - Published on Amazon.com
Roderick Long is a libertarian philosopher who (like many of us) was first introduced to philosophy via the works of Ayn Rand. And (like many of us) he has to a greater or lesser extent "moved on." Prof. Long is still broadly Aristotelian in his outlook, but has integrated his Aristotelianism with many insights from the Austrian school of economics.

In this relatively brief work Prof. Long discusses Rand's conception of reason and value and compares it to the views of other philosophers. He discovers Humean, Aristotelian, Platonic, Kantian and Hobbesian aspects to Rand's ethical thought. I found Prof. Long's discussion of the instrumentalist aspects of Rand's ethics quite interesting. Take the issue of dishonesty. Since Objectivists are opposed to "instrinsicism," they often discuss the virtue of honesty in terms of the consequences that flow from dishonest acts. Objectivists typically argue that a person who undertakes a sophisticated swindle has to engage in so many lies and deceptions that he is likely to get caught. Indeed his machinations are so in conflict with their likely result that it in fact amounts to an attempt to "fake reality." This reduces to don't lie because you'll get caught. However, as Prof. Long points out, the virtuous characters in Rand's novels don't act on such blatantly instrumentalist premises. Is John Galt honest because he fears the consequences of cheating? Is he really not bright enough to "pull it off"? In fact, implicit in the "faking reality" approach is a noninstrumentalist (and even vaguely Nietzschian) rationale. There is even a Kantian subtheme here, e.g., when Rand demands "consistency" in one's conduct toward others.

Prof. Long's essay is particularly broad and covers aspects of Rand's epistemology and even politics. There is a particularly interesting discussion of whether Rand is a foundationalist and, if so, what kind.

It's not often that you see a book that takes Rand's philosophy seriously enough to critique it respectfully. I recommend it highly.
5.0 out of 5 stars You can get this book for much less -- in fact for free June 18 2014
By Roderick T. Long - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I wrote this book. (Sorry for giving it 5 stars but I had to give it SOME number.) This book is listed here at an astronomical price but I'm told the publisher (now renamed the Atlas Society) still sells these at a normal price "on inquiry" but they don't advertise it. They also, equally un-advertisedly, host the whole thing in PDF form for free at:

[...]
14 of 48 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nice Try June 29 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Thank goodness that Rand departs from Aristotle on a number of points. The author has it just backwards: it is Aristotle's errors that gave rise to "corrosive skepticism" and ethical subjectivism. In arguing that there are values outside of the context of life, the author has also departed from what may be the implicit and overriding idea behind Aristotle's own thought. There still can be no values outside of that context and these arguments only confirm Rand's thesis.
9 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS BOOK RAND ME OVER!!! FULL (ARIS)THROTTLE!!! March 2 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This book has changed my life. Seriously.
Amazingly enough, the author easily commands an intellect far greater than those his book is about, combined! I sleep with this book at night...
if you know what I mean.
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