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Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  1,629 ratings  ·  55 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 NAL (first published 1979)
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4.02  · 
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 ·  1,629 ratings  ·  55 reviews

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Haider Al-Mosawi
Nov 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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).

May 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Mark Milne
Oct 01, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 24, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Aug 07, 2011 rated it did not like it
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.
Dec 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
Alternative title: Introduction to strong and circular claims
Curtis Rhodes
Jun 12, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: my-office
What an angry, bitter, sarcastic, sophomoric screed.

Fascinated by Plato's cave wall discovery of abstractions she declares that only "man" is capable of reason.

I suspect squirrels can discern 'this is a tree', 'this is not a tree'.

[stupid]sic... are those who desire to escape from the absolutism of existence, of facts, of reality, and above all identity." The essence of her argument that reality is reality. Your subjective perception is only correct if it perceives the one single correct defi
Jun 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
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.
Randy Vollrath
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very helpful for clarifying thinking. This book has the important discussion about concepts--how we form them (and continue to expand concepts as we learn more about them), what role they play in our thinking, and discusses how concepts are on a hierarchy (ie: Furniture is a concept, and beneath that concept would be the concept of "table" and "chair"). Many other important concepts like measurement in regards to differentiating one concept from another; measurement omission in regards to distin ...more
Aidan Manning
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Probably one of the most important book to read for understanding Objectivism, but also the most technical, requiring multiple slow reads. In terms of recommendations it's a bit of a tossup; if you are new to Objectivism I can't recommend it yet. But you cannot have a full, proper understanding of the philosophy without it, so if you have read her other nonfiction I recommend you give it a shot.

Second edition is a must; it has a ton of supplementary material that really help you understand the c
Kevin Yee
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this after a Computer Science class that emphasized the importance of concept-formation and using consciously building the structure of one's own knowledge. I found it very intellectually stimulating, especially her her perspective on language, how the cognition happens before we communicate.
Les Dossey
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top-reads
This is a tougher book to read but well worth the effort.
Nov 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Just don't think this is as well-written as Rand's other works. Seems to ramble on in most spots without Rand's usual sharp precision in making her points. Not my favorite Rand book for sure!
Audie Alger
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Boris R
Nov 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
I am having trouble rating this book. For one, I really liked it (in the same way I like the movie "The Room"), but on the other hand, the content itself is quite bad in terms of writing, in terms of clarity, and it lacks rigorous formal arguments. So I'll just compromise on a 2.5 rounded down.

Ayn Rand has a serious problem making clear when she's talking about what is, and what ought to be. After reading the first eight chapters I assumed that she was mostly talking about the latter, because ot
Michael Connolly
Feb 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, philosophy
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
Ihab McShea
Oct 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
For someone who's interested in Artificial Intelligence, you have not to just be acquainted with Epistemology, but to have a deeper understanding of this topic because if you don't understand what knowledge, consciousness, wisdom, experience, intuition, salience, and intelligence are, then you are not ready for the real challenges of AI.
Although this book by one Ayn Rand sure isn't the best book for you to grasp all of what Epistemology has to offer, it is still the best book if you need a smart
I only read the parts by Rand herself, everything after the summary I left unread mainly due to lack of interest. I read this as a part of a personal study of Objectivist thought and of cult-like figures like Ayn Rand. Having read a good deal of Rand's other nonfiction, like The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism and Philosophy: Who Needs It, the ideas here weren't terribly new to me. Nonetheless, it was interesting to read about how Rand believed we form concepts and how those con ...more
Stephen Lee
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
I liked the ideas presented in this book. If you like Aristotle's ideas, you will too. Although I haven't evaluated other epistemic philosophies any more then reading the Wikipedia pages, after reading this I don't think I would pick any other over the Objectivist one. Rand presents her system in a clear way along (simplistic) relevant mathematical ideas. 'Concepts' are abstractions that serve as shortenings for longer descriptions of truly-existing things in the world. Concepts simultaneously i ...more
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: summer-2012
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
Mar 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
D. B.
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
VERY different from anything I've ever read!! Ayn Rand's book gives you a guide to the how's of concept-formation, propositions, and many other topics. The mind is a very complex thing and Rand tells the reader her ideas of how it works. I especially loved her use of examples such as the evolution of the definition of "man" and her explanation on the question "Can you measure love?" A fascinating book, to say the least!
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I would recommend the main text, but slogging through the appendix dragged out the book considerably. There's a lot of good material in there, but most of it was essentially wasted on me. Someday I'll have to reread this, but I knew that going in. This book is, like it says on the tin, only an introduction. A full investigation would be nice, but Rand herself acknowledged a lot of unfinished work, so the Appendix is about as close as we're likely going to get to that.
Dec 01, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
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.
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