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Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  1,293 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Today man's mind is under attack by all the leading schools of philosophy. We are told that we cannot trust our senses, that logic is arbitrary, that concepts have no basis in reality. Ayn Rand opposes that torrent of nihilism, and she provides the alternative in this eloquent presentation of the essential nature--and power--of man's conceptual faculty. She offers a startl ...more
Paperback, Expanded Second Edition, 320 pages
Published April 26th 1990 by Plume (first published 1979)
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Haider Al-Mosawi
An excellent book for any human being with a brain and would like to know how to use it.

Many philosophy books raise more questions than they answer and lead to more confusion than clarity. This is a very practical book because it establishes an essential foundation for all our thinking and how we relate to the world. Ayn Rand explains how we know the world is objective, why the senses are reliable, the importance of reason, and other issues related to epistemology (the science of knowledge).

Roslyn Ross
One of the most exciting things I have read in a long time. Understanding how concepts are formed is SO EXCITING!!! Every English major should read this. I can now explain why the verb "to be" is such a horrible verb--when you use sentences with that verb you are almost always going to be using so many abstractions that the sentence can be very easily misinterpreted. What she says correlates with the science I have read on kids brain development which I enjoyed. Fascinates me that philosophers k ...more
The terms and arguments are completely unclear. If this is an attempt at rigorous philosophy, it falls embarrassingly short. As one who actually agrees with Ayn Rand in broad terms, I am consistently disappointed by the quality of the arguments she marshaled for her beliefs.
This book by novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand, (author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead") establishes the foundation of the philosophy of Objectivism, putting forth a clear statement of the branch of epistemology, and specifically, of concept formation. Rand connects every concept, no matter the complexity of the abstraction, to objective reality, proving that all concepts are in fact measurable and objective, including complex emotions such as love.

This is a very technical book that
Patrick Peterson
This book is very basic - but was very difficult, for me at least. I found myself not able to make every logical jump Rand thought proper. A little weird, since I agree with so much of what Rand says. I don't think I ever actually finished the book, since I could not agree with some pretty fundamental jumps she made.

I've read Atlas, Fountainhead, We the Living, Anthem, Night of Jan. 16, Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal (my favorite of hers), Virtue of Selfishness, and several other books of her ess
D. B.
Although not as thorough as Leonard Peikoff's expansion Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology is instructive because it was written by Rand herself to clarify her view of epistemology. Peikoff was and is the best qualified person to expand her views, but even he acknowledges that O.P.A.R. is his interpretation and should not be mistaken for Rand's work. It is much drier and more technical than her fiction, but she presents some really good arguments re ...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Sep 14, 2013 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone Interested in Philosophy
I know many sneer at the idea of Ayn Rand as a philosopher. (Just look at reviews below.) I believe mainly because they're so radically opposed to her views and so consider her a threat to their values. And many find it easy to be derogatory because she won fame as a writer of fiction and didn't have the academic credentials of those who usually call themselves philosophers. And sorry to say, it probably didn't help back then--may even hurt her now--that she was a woman poaching on very male ter ...more
Mark Milne
You can find my full review on my website, but in a nutshell, Rand was not well-schooled in philosophy and this book shows that very clearly. She has NO following among professional philosophers because of that. She has a HUGE following among readers of her novels, and when those readers find this book on OE they give it gushing reviews. And OE is probably the first book on a philosophical subject they have ever read. The main faults with OE: 1) Rand just makes claims, she does not present argum ...more
Boris R
This book proves that knowledge is hierarchical. Knowledge is organized into concepts, and each concept has (a) a definition and (b) what it refers to.
It was valuable reading to me, as a computer programmer, since data organization is a big part of programming.

The understanding that knowledge is hierarchical seems trivial, but the real difficulty is understanding if properties of a thing are part of the thing or assigned by us. For example, what makes an apple an apple? Does the taste of the a
Michael Connolly
This book introduced me to the fact that the most important part of reasoning is not deductive logic, such as Aristotelian syllogisms, but rather inductive reasoning, which is the process of forming concepts by grouping together similar particulars. When concepts are formed by grouping dissimilar particulars together, what is produced are faulty concepts. Any reasoning based on faulty concepts cannot be trusted. She also describes a more subtle error, that of context dropping. If a concept is us ...more
I have to admit I only read Ayn Rand's portion of this book and not the "additional" material from the new edition. I started the first of the additional material and it was all repetitive of what Rand wrote. I also found the interview/workshop material to be rather redundant.

I am not a Rand follower, believer, whatever. Within the past year I read Atlas Shrugged and while overall I liked it, I find her work redundant. I think that book could have been at least a third of its size if edited down
This is the starting point for anyone interested in Ayn Rand's writings. It is philosophical, clear and concise, and presents the basis for all of her writings, including her fiction. For those who would like insight into Rand's claims, this book presents them in full. For those who would like insight into her fictional characters, this book gives the reader insight into their persona's. I really enjoyed the "Excerpts from the Epistemology Workshops" and Peikoff's "The Analytic-Synthetic Dichoto ...more
George Barker
This book discusses the foundations and structure of human knowledge in a way that is highly relevant to object oriented programming.
A very important book, but not for those who are new both to Ayn Rand's ideas and to abstract philosophy.

ITOE focuses specifically on "the problem of the univerals," laying out the relationship of conceptual knowledge to concrete reality. This is an important part of philosophy, and Ayn Rand provides real solutions, but unlike most of her work, ITOE does little to provide context for the layman, and therefore I don't recommend it to the average reader.
Going into this book, I expected a rough layout of all of the things that made Rand's philosophy unique. Instead, the first 7 chapters consisted of lessons in basic cognitive development, and the last remaining chapter consisted of her spewing out everything that is apparently wrong with Immanuel Kant, instead of explaining why her philosophy differs, and why I should be persuaded into agreeing with her. Poor show. Dry writing style.
Epistemology is a theory of a philosophical knowledge. It engaged how our minds are related to reality, whether the state of affair are valid or invalid. It teaches men how to communicate, and how we see things the world around us. It is the explanation of how we think by determining a proper method of evaluation.
William Merrick
Succinct read of 80 pages + a scrypt of a round table discussion with Ayn Rand.

I ask everyone who criticizes Ayn Rand if they've read this book. Usually, the answer is no.

Epistemology is the study of how to form knowledge. Quite important to the rational mind, I'd say.
Apr 11, 2008 Jill is currently reading it
A very detailed account of how and why we form concepts. At least as of page 33. Heavy, but thought provoking. Makes me think about how easy it is for me to understand things vs. Evie (my 7 month old) who is at a very basic level of concept formation.
Nathan Titus
A bit technocal foe my taste really. I would have liked more comparsion with other forms of epistemology so I could really see what she was talking about. As it was it felt like a long winded description of how a chilid learns to speak.
Harper R
There is some very elegant epistemology in Rand's writing here. Whether it is non-sequiter to anti-mystical and anti-socialism ideals is up to the distinguished reader to adjudge.
It was deeper and more complicated than I thought it would be but I've never been a huge fan of philosophy. I think I got it, and I agree with her premise.
This helped me get ideas down and gave me a lot to think about at a time when I needed to do some thinking, the early part of my military career.
Ayn Rand is such an incredibly lucid thinker and writer. And her style has got to be the most male of any writer I know.
An excellent account of epistemology. Rand's view on concept formation is especially novel.
Craig J.
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology: Expanded Second Edition by Ayn Rand (1990)
Josh Readmore
I read this in college when I was still a philosophy major. Pretty bad.
Doug Huffman
Just OK, but essential to understanding Randianianism beyond Atlas Shrugged.
Feb 11, 2009 Matt added it
This explains how, specifically, to create, use, and validate concepts.
Scott Dishman
I learned all about Objectivism from this book. Great philosophy!
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Alisa Rosenbaum was born in pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg to a prosperous Jewish family. When the Bolsheviks requisitioned the pharmacy owned by her father, Fronz, the Rosenbaums fled to the Crimea. Alisa returned to the city (renamed Leningrad) to attend the university, but in 1926 relatives who had already settled in America offered her the chance of joining them there. With money from the sa ...more
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