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WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT US . . .


The Art Book (Quarterly Journal of the British Association of Art Historians)

"Reviews" (September 2001):

"In Britain, Ayn Rand (1905-82), the Russian born and educated American intellectual tends to be remembered only as the author of the novel (later film) The Fountainhead.  It comes as some surprise then . . . that there is something of a small industry in the USA devoted to analysing her diverse and prodigious output:  an Ayn Rand Institute, The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, and a number of other academic studies investigating her extensive writing on philosophy, politics, and literature."


The Chronicle of Higher Education

"Hot Type" (10 September 1999):

"It probably won't come close to the continuing sales of The Fountainhead (several hundred thousand a year), but Chris Matthew Sciabarra hopes that The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies will be another coup in his campaign for the conquest of academe in the popular author's name.  Mr. Sciabarra, a visiting scholar at New York University and the author of multiple works on Rand, has predicted an unstoppable wave of Randianism in academe (The Chronicle, April 9).  With this month's publication of his new semi-annual journal, he hopes to push the crest higher still.

"He'd like to sweep the naysayers along with him.  Mr. Sciabarra says the journal will be open not only to Objectivists -- orthodox believers in Rand's philosophy of selfishness and capitalism -- but to those of every perspective and in every discipline.  'We're actively seeking Marxists, leftists, socialists,' he says.  'I hope we'll have literary critics, feminists, whatever!'

"The first issue will include an essay by Mr. Sciabarra on Rand's college education; an essay by the co-editor, Stephen Cox, a professor of literature at the University of California at San Diego, on Rand's celebration of capitalism; and two essays challenging Rand's views."


The Chronicle of Higher Education

"Advocates of Objectivism Make New Inroads" (13 July 2007):

Writer David Glenn mentions The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies in a discussion of the Anthem Foundation for Objectivism, which offered the Texas State University Department of Philosophy "a long-term grant to pay the salary of a visiting professor whose specialty would be objectivism, as Rand termed her philosophical system."  The Department turned down the offer, partially because of "specific worries about the world of Rand scholarship, which has occasionally been marred by schisms and accusations of scholarly foul play.  In particular, the Ayn Rand Institute, a nonprofit organization with which the Anthem Foundation is closely associated, has sometimes been accused of enforcing rigid ideological conformity—and even of failing to acknowledge the work of scholars associated with rival organizations."  In an interview with Rebecca Raphael, "a senior lecturer in philosophy at Texas State," Glenn writes:  "Another red flag for Ms. Raphael was an abject apology distributed online in 2002 by Andrew Bernstein, a visiting professor of philosophy at Marist College. Mr. Bernstein lectured on Rand at Texas State this past March, and Mr. McCaskey [the Anthem Foundation's founder and president] mentioned his name as someone who might fill the position that Anthem offered to finance. 

"In his 2002 statement, Mr. Bernstein apologized for having contributed a one-paragraph letter to The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, a journal that publishes a variety of approaches to Rand's philosophy, many of which the institute's leaders find false and offensive. (Mr. Bernstein's short contribution was a reply to a negative review of his CliffsNotes of Rand's novels.)

"'The so-called Journal of Ayn Rand Studies is filled with writings by people with whom I refuse to knowingly associate under any circumstances,' wrote Mr. Bernstein in his apology. 'I deeply regret my thoughtless decision to contribute to this journal, and hereby irrevocably repudiate any and all association with it. In this regard, the fault is entirely my own. This journal does not hide what it is. Its contents are available on the Internet for all to see. In failing to do the requisite research and gather the necessary data, I failed to properly use my mind. I must now suffer the consequences of that. To all who are sincerely concerned with objectivism, I apologize, and recommend a complete repudiation and boycott of this journal. ...'

"When asked by The Chronicle about his 2002 comments, Mr. Bernstein replied that rejecting The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies was a moral and intellectual obligation. 'We are literally in a struggle to save human civilization from the destruction wrought by irrational philosophy,' he wrote in an e-mail message. The editors of the journal have been hostile to the Ayn Rand Institute, he said, but 'anyone who sincerely supports Ayn Rand's philosophy, and appreciates its indispensable role in promoting cultural renaissance, must, as a logical consequence ... respect ARI's dauntless, indefatigable, gallant struggle on behalf of a rational philosophy.'

"Such talk does little to quell Ms. Raphael's fundamental complaint. The Anthem Foundation might believe in good faith that a certain strain of objectivism is the truest and best, she says, but that means that departments should be even more cautious about accepting its grants. 'When the donor expects the hiree to promote certain interpretations of the material,' she says, 'this removes from competition other scholars in the field whose results, however meritorious, do not meet the ideological litmus test.'"


The Daily Objectivist 
"TDO Sanctions and Endorses the First Issue . . ." (15 October 1999):
Authorized:  The Rand Journal We've Been Waiting For - Reviewed by Scott Ryan

"With the publication of Volume 1, Number 1 of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, Ayn Rand scholarship takes a giant leap forward.  . . . 'Ayn Rand scholarship,' not 'Objectivist scholarship.'  Although each of the contributors to the inaugural issue clearly has important areas of agreement with Rand, it is obvious that this journal does not shrink from criticism of Rand and that contributors need not regard themselves as Objectivists.  The journal contains six essays on a broad range of topics. . . .

"Chris Matthew Sciabarra provides the opening piece. In 'The Rand Transcript,' he summarizes the contents of Ayn Rand's studies at the University of Leningrad during 1921-24 based on a 26-course transcript . . . that tends to confirm his earlier speculation that Rand was exposed to significant dialectical influences.

"Stephen Cox (one of the journal's editors, together with Sciabarra and R.W. Bradford) follows with . . . an insightful look at Rand's fiction that takes off from an odd feature of American literature. . . . The result is a nice piece of literary analysis.

"In 'Music and Perceptual Cognition,' Roger Bissell . . . contends that, in more than one respect, Rand's views on music involved her in what she herself dubbed the 'Fallacy of the Frozen Abstraction.' . . . Bissell's exposition is thorough and sound and his conclusions promising.

"Larry J. Sechrest (a member of the journal's Board of Advisers) then offers 'Rand, Anarchy, and Taxes,' a penetrating discussion of Randian minarchism that will be of particular interest for its economic analysis of Murray I. Franck's arguments for the legitimacy of taxation.   Sechrest concludes . . . that each side in the minarchism/anarchism debate needs to become more familiar with the arguments of the other. "

"In 'Ayn Rand and the Cognitive Revolution in Psychology,' Robert L. Campbell . . . concludes that Objectivists will not be able to respond effectively to genuinely current trends in psychology unless they tear down the wall Rand tried to build between philosophy and psychology.

"And in the issue's closing piece, Gregory R. Johnson's "Liberty and Nature: The Missing Link" takes a broad but careful look at Rand's attempt to place Lockean natural-rights political philosophy on a foundation of Aristotelian ethics. . . .  Johnson's essay may be the single most thorough critical discussion currently available on Rand's ethical theory, its relations to historical ethical thought, and the difficulties inherent in . . . Rand's reductive . . . approach to questions of value. . . . "I shall, in short, be rereading this gem for a long time to come. But each of the six essays is a gem in its way; there is not a weak piece in the entire volume. They all exemplify high levels of scholarship and indeed just plain excellent writing. Only limitations of space prevent me from commenting on each in detail.  Let us hope that we may look forward to many more issues of such fine scholarly work. The world of Ayn Rand and, yes, of Objectivism has long needed a publication such as this one. Bravissimo!"

The Free Radical

"The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies:  Four Years and Counting" (Vol. 57, July/August 2003, pp. 10-11)

By Chris Matthew Sciabarra


Education Guardian

"A Growing Concern:  Mainstream academic interest in the Russian-born novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand continues to grow around the world" (7 December 2001):

Reviewed by David Cohen

"The latest issue of a relatively new scholarly publication, The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, contains papers written by a dozen or more international academics from prestigious universities, including professors from Britain and continental Europe."


Inside Higher Education

"Intellectual Affairs: Among the Randroids" (10 February 2005):

"Whole subdivisions of the humanities could run on the energy generated by [Continental philosopher Slavoj] Zizek's incessant effort to bring Lacanian psychoanalytic categories to bear on the reading of German Idealist philosophy—all in the interest of revitalizing Marxist politics, albeit at a very high level of abstraction. Few Objectivists could read him without trembling in rage.

"At a conference about two years ago, Zizek told me that he had no use for most American academic journals. There was only one that he really liked, he said.

"Oh really? And what was that?

"'It is The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies,' he said. 'I love it. I read every issue.'  He may have been joking, yet he also appeared serious. The two do sometimes go together."


The London Review of Books

"As Astonishing As Elvis" (Vol. 27, No. 23, 1 December 2005):

Reviewed by Jenny Turner

"Rand is everywhere. . . .  A peer-reviewed journal, the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, was founded in 1999, and continues to [be] run [by Chris Matthew Sciabarra] ... of New York University; a paper by Slavoj Zizek is among past highlights."


Ludwig von Mises Institute Daily Article

"To What Extent Was Rand a Misesian?" (11 April 2005):

Reviewed by Bettina Bien Greaves

"This year marks the 100th anniversary of Ayn Rand's birth. Her books sold in the millions and were most effective in transforming a generation of readers into ardent anti-communists and strong capitalists. There is also a connection between the Austrian School and Rand, as shown by a new symposium from The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (Spring 2005) entitled 'Ayn Rand Among the Austrians.'

"This is a collection of scholarly papers by some of her most serious students. If we may generalize from their conclusions, it is this: though Rand calls herself an Objectivist, and appears to reject important aspects of Austrian economics—apriorism and subjective value theory—and claims that a scientific ethics may be derived from an individual's right to life, Ayn Rand was essentially an Austrian and a Misesian. The contributors to this volume give insight into Rand's principles and offer reasons for reconciling Rand's Objectivism with Mises's subjectivism."


National Post

"Ayn Rand Goes to College" (8 January 2000):

Reviewed by Andy Lamey

"Long considered an intellectual laughingstock, Alan Greenspan's favourite thinker is attracting attention from revisionist academics, angering her traditional supporters. . . . Last fall the movement peaked with the arrival of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies.  Papers in the first issue, written mostly by professors, range from 'Ayn Rand and the Cognitive Revolution in Psychology' to a critique of Rand's theory of music."

Lamey interviews Robert L. Campbell, author of the article on psychology, as well as Mimi Reisel Gladstein (who is on the journal's Board of Advisors), and founding co-editor Chris Matthew Sciabarra, "the most prominent of the neo-Randian academics."  Lamey discusses Sciabarra's 18-month search for Rand's college transcript in light of the Ayn Rand Institute's refusal to share the document with him.


Navigator 
"Academic Interpretations of Ayn Rand" (November 1999):
Reviewed by William Thomas, Manager of Research and Training, The Objectivist Center

"Objectivists have long hoped to see a high-quality academic journal focusing on Objectivism.  Last month's publication of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies . . . signals a promising step in that direction. . . . By design, the editors have cast a wide net, looking to publish literary studies of Rand's fiction, historical studies of her life and thought, and philosophical essays on Objectivism.  The results are evident in the Journals's first issue . . .

"Editor Chris Matthew Sciabarra opens his Journal with 'The Rand Transcript' (1-26).  This discursive essay takes the reader on a tour of Rand's transcript from the University of Leningrad . . . Sciabarra . . . also brings in new information about Rand's girlhood social circle and, in particular, her connection to the sisters of Vladimir Nabokov. . . . In Rand's transcript, Sciabarra uncovers new facts that give far greater warrant to his historical hypothesis [presented in Ayn Rand:  The Russian Radical]. . . . To this reviewer's mind, Sciabarra successfully exploits that line of research and bolsters his key claim of a link between Russian philosopher N. O. Lossky, his followers, and the young Rand."

Robert Campbell's essay on "Ayn Rand and the Cognitive Revolution in Psychology," focuses on how "developments in psychology and related fields during the 1950's and 1960's influenced the direction of Rand's epistemology."  Thomas wonders:  "No doubt an objective philosophy will find confirmation in the sciences, but does epistemology--or philosophy itself--depend on the findings of science?  According to Campbell, the influence of the cognitive revolution on Rand's thought shows that it does.  Perhaps the resolution of this debate lies in recognizing that when philosophy addresses the widest context . . . then it does and must precede science in a logical sense.  But developmentally, science and philosophy grow together. . .

The "extensive critique" of Rand's derivation of "political rights . . . from a theory of value based in the nature of human life," written by Gregory Johnson, accuses Rand of reductionism.  Thomas "sympathizes with the spirit of [Johnson's] recommendations," but criticizes Johnson's essential line of argument.  Still, Johnson's "criticisms are well posed and suggest the need for a fresh Objectivist analysis of rights. . . ."

Roger Bissell's discussion of "the epistemology of music" proves that while the Journal "is not, primarily, a venue for the expansion of Objectivism," it will publish essays that "represent a substantial attempt to extend Objectivism into a neglected area. . . . [Bissell's] essay does shed light on the place of music in the Objectivist aesthetics and on hearing in the Objectivist theory of perception.  In that sense it constitutes a noteworthy step forward. . . ."

Thomas then turns to Larry Sechrest's treatment of "Rand, Anarchy, and Taxes."  Though critical of Sechrest's essay on the debate over anarchism, Thomas points out that "Sechrest seems to recognize the facts that would lead one to look beyond the sterile 'anarchy' vs. 'minarchy' debate." 

Thomas ends his discussion of the journal's first issue, praising Stephen Cox's essay on Rand's literary corpus.  ". . . Cox uses the contrast of outsiders and insiders to give us a thoughtful and interesting survey of Rand's re-creation of America in light of her pro-capitalist views."

Thomas concludes:  "Objectivists have long hoped to see Rand's work and philosophy discussed in the mainstream, more or less on their own terms.  One of the difficulties in achieving this goal has been that scholars approach Rand without being familiar with her method or thought.  This has led, at times to critiques of Rand that substantially distort her.  On the other hand, scholars have been wary or contemptuous of Rand because of her hostility, her lack of an academic demeanor, and her systematic approach to philosophy.  The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies promises to extend a bridge over this gulf.  The style of the Journal should be acceptable to academia, and if it garners attention it may provide a window on Objectivism for the academy, despite its lack of reputation or disciplinary focus.   The contributors to the first issue all seem knowledgeable about Objectivism.   Objectivists will find analyses in these essays that to varying degrees shed new light on the philosophy, while non-Objectivists will encounter fair representations of what Ayn Rand stood for."


The Queen's Journal

"The New Intellectuals:  A Profile of Ayn Rand" (1 February 2000):

Reviewed by Peter Jaworski

" . . . nothing in academia says 'I have arrived' more than an honest-to-goodness scholarly journal.  Having been released in the fall of last year, the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies is surely the most indicative preamble of Rand's future in our universities.  This particular journal . . . co-edited by Sciabarra, promises to provide an honest appraisal of every aspect of her philosophy from her views on psychology (she is a big supporter of free-will), to her beliefs about epistemology (she holds that our rational faculty, by integrating information solely from our five senses, provides the only real knowledge we have of the world). . . .

"As for the opposition encountered by the academics from the official Objectivists . . . who . . . furiously denounce . . . the aformentioned [Journal], well, their efforts are futile.  With a promising portent of things to come, Sciabarra declares that 'at this stage, nothing deters me.'  And nothing should."


Reason

"Ayn Rand at 100: Loved, hated, and always controversial, the best-selling author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged is more relevant than ever" (March 2005):

By Cathy Young

"In recent years, at last, some analysis of Rand has appeared that is neither uncritical adulation nor unrelenting bashing. Some of it has come from unorthodox neo-Objectivists, such as the feminist scholar Mimi Gladstein or the political philosopher Chris Matthew Sciabarra. (The two edited the 1999 book Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand, and Sciabarra wrote 1996’s controversial Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical.) The five-year-old Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, co-founded by Sciabarra, often features essays by mainstream intellectuals that treat Rand’s legacy in a non-hagiographic way."


The Village Voice

"Higher Ed:  The Polecat Makes a Comeback--Gettin' Randy" (15-21 March 2000):

By Norah Vincent

". . . now a hungry assortment of Rand scholars has resurrected the Russian polecat from the closet bookshelves of maverick undergrads.   Last year, Chris Matthew Sciabarra, founding editor of the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies and a visiting scholar in NYU's politics department, coedited a volume of essays entitled Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand. . . . Negative press notwithstanding, Rand is making a comeback. . . . at least now budding Randians are being supervised."

 


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