Ayn Rand

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Posted by motoman 03/12/2009 @ 09:11

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Rand redux - Boston Globe
By Alex Beam Another reason, if you need one, to disdain Facebook: A man I haven't seen in 30 years sent me an "Ayn Rand app," or application. It's called the "Atlas Shrugged Pledge." My former friend's picture appeared next to the cover of the famous...
Buying in to Rand - The Adam Smith Institute
Perhaps one of the most interesting of these is that sale of the 1957 novel 'Atlas Shrugged' by Ayn Rand. Since the beginning of the economic crisis, Atlas Shrugged has climbed more than 500 places on the Amazon rankings, even overtaking contemporary...
Philosophical Thoughts in English - Duluth News Tribune
This past week, Mrs. Knutsen's Honors English 11 classes have been reading “Anthem” by Ayn Rand. It is a dystopian fiction that takes place in the unspecified future when mankind has entered a dark age as a result of evils of irrationality and...
A Conservative Tears Apart Ayn Rand and 'Atlas Shrugged' - U.S. News & World Report
By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog Sales of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged are up, which is saying something given that it reportedly sold more copies last year than ever before. According to my friend and former colleague Scott Galupo in...
Rand Paul talks about his name and Ayn Rand - Liberty Maven
Rand Paul has put up a new video at RandPaul2010.com dispelling all the myths regarding his first name. He also discusses being a fan of Ayn Rand and a few of his favorite books. I think it'sa great idea for Rand to release videos like these....
Alan Greenspan, central figure in financial collapse is devout ... - ministryValues.com
Many people are not aware that Alan Greenspan was a disciple of Ayn Rand and a member of her group known as the “Collective“. After earning his Masters in `1950, Greenspan became a 20-year associate of famed philosopher Ayn Rand, author of books "The...
Biography: Exploring Capitalist Novelist Ayn Rand -- Vision.org - Earthtimes (press release)
PASADENA, CA -- 05/19/09 -- In today's economic climate, as financial crises continue and governments worldwide seek interventions that will stem monetary collapse, novelist Ayn Rand's concept of laissez-faire capitalism has resurfaced in many quarters...
re: Space Shuttle Launch and Ayn Rand - Lew Rockwell
(And you wonder why the more people learn about Libertarianism and Austrian Economics, they reject Ayn Rand? I'm one of those people, by the way.) Hey Stephan, vis-à-vis NASA, I wonder what Rand thought about the State-created Aeroflot¹?...
Ayn Rand: Fantasyland - Vision Insights and New Horizons
Ayn Rand was such a person. “I have held the same philosophy I now hold, for as far back as I can remember,” she reminisced at age 52. “I have learned a great deal through the years and expanded my knowledge of details . . . but I have never had to...
Schama Looks At History For 'American Future' - NPR
I don't think there's any question that a great British expatriate, Ayn Rand, who wrote "Atlas Shrugged," was an extremely prescient member of our history and someone that we should pay great attention to today because everything that that book...

Ayn Rand

Half-length monochrome portrait photo of Ayn Rand, seated, holding a cigarette

Ayn Rand (IPA: /ˈaɪn ˈrænd/, February 2 1905 – March 6, 1982), was a Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter. She is known for her best-selling novels and for developing a philosophical system called Objectivism.

Born and educated in Russia, Rand emigrated to the United States in 1926. She worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood and had a play produced on Broadway in 1932. She first achieved notoriety with The Fountainhead (1943), and her best-known work – the philosophical novel Atlas Shrugged – was published in 1957.

Her political views, reflected in both her fiction and her theoretical work, emphasize individualism, laissez-faire capitalism, and the constitutional protection of the right to life, liberty, and property. She was a fierce opponent of all forms of collectivism and statism, including fascism, communism, and the welfare state. Yet Rand held her metaphysical, epistemological and ethical views to be more fundamental than her politics, saying "I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason." Her ideas and philosophical work remain controversial where studied, but her philosophy is largely ignored by academic philosophers.

Rand was born Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum (Russian: Алиса Зиновьевна Розенбаум) in 1905, into a middle-class family living in Saint Petersburg, Russia, the eldest of three daughters (Alisa, Natasha, and Nora), to Zinovy Zacharovich Rosenbaum and Anna Borisovna Rosenbaum, agnostic and largely non-observant Jews. Her father was a chemist and a successful pharmaceutical entrepreneur who earned the privilege of living outside the Jewish Pale of Settlement.

Rand was twelve at the time of the Russian revolution of 1917, and her family life was disrupted by the rise of the Bolshevik party. Her father's pharmacy was confiscated by the Soviets, and the family temporarily fled to the Crimea. Rand then returned to Saint Petersburg to attend the University of Petrograd, where she joined the department of social pedagogy, majoring in history with additional studies in philosophy, philology, and law. She read Edmond Rostand, Friedrich Schiller, and Fyodor Dostoevsky, as well as the philosophical works of Friedrich Nietzsche, admiring his depiction of the hero in Thus Spake Zarathustra. She completed a three-year program and graduated in 1924, after which she entered the State Institute for Cinema Arts to study screenwriting.

In late 1925, she was granted a visa to visit American relatives. She arrived in the United States in February 1926, at the age of 21, entering by ship through New York City, which would ultimately become her home. After a brief stay with her relatives in Chicago, she resolved never to return to the Soviet Union, and set out for Hollywood to become a screenwriter. Already using Rand as a Cyrillic contraction of her surname, she adopted the name Ayn, which is of disputed origin.

Initially, she struggled in Hollywood and took odd jobs to pay her basic living expenses. A chance meeting with famed director Cecil B. DeMille led to a job as an extra in his film, The King of Kings, and to subsequent work as a script reader. She also worked as the head of the costume department at RKO Studios. While working on The King of Kings, she intentionally bumped into an aspiring young actor, Frank O'Connor, who caught her eye. The two married on April 15, 1929, and remained married for fifty years, until O'Connor's death in 1979 at the age of 82. Rand became an American citizen in 1931.

Rand's first literary success came with the sale of her screenplay Red Pawn in 1932 to Universal Studios. Josef Von Sternberg considered it for Marlene Dietrich, but Russian themes were unpopular at the time, and the project came to nothing. This was followed by the courtroom drama The Night of January 16th in 1934, on Broadway.

Her first novel, the semi-autobiographical We the Living, appeared the same year. Set in Communist Russia, it focused on the struggle between the individual and the state. The novel was was made into a two-part film, Noi Vivi and Addio, Kira in 1942, despite resistance from the Italian government under Benito Mussolini, starring Alida Valli as Kira, Fosco Giachetti as Andrei, and Rossano Brazzi as Leo. The films were re-edited into a new version which was approved by Rand's estate and re-released as We the Living in 1986.

The novella Anthem followed, a vision of a dystopian future world in which collectivism has triumphed to such an extent that even the word "I" has vanished from the language and from man's memory.

Rand's first major success came with The Fountainhead in 1943, a romantic drama and philosophical novel that she wrote over a period of seven years. The novel centers around an uncompromising young architect named Howard Roark, and his struggle against what Rand described as "second-handers" — those who attempt to live through others, placing others above self. It was rejected by twelve publishers before finally being accepted by the Bobbs-Merrill Company on the insistence of editorial board member Archibald Ogden. The novel was adapted as a film in 1949, produced by Warner Brothers, starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal, with the screenplay written by Rand herself. She had already written screenplays for two other Hollywood movies, Love Letters and You Came Along.

The Fountainhead eventually became a worldwide success, bringing Rand fame and financial security. As of April 2003, it had sold over six million copies, and continued to sell about 100,000 copies per year.

The theme of Atlas Shrugged is the morality of rational self-interest. It advocates the core tenets of Rand's philosophy of Objectivism and expresses her idea of human greatness. The plot involves a dystopian United States in which industrialists and other creative individuals go on strike and retreat to a mountainous hideaway where they build an independent free economy. The hero, John Galt, describes the strike as "stopping the motor of the world" by withdrawing the people that Rand saw as contributing the most to the nation's productivity and creativity. With their strike, they aim to demonstrate that, without "the men of the mind," the economy would collapse and society would fall apart. The novel includes elements of mystery and science fiction, and contains Rand's most extensive statement of Objectivism in any of her works of fiction, including a lengthy monologue delivered by John Galt.

Rand saw her views as constituting a complete philosophical system, which she called "Objectivism". She embraced philosophical realism and advocated rational egoism, or rational self-interest, as a guiding moral principle. Her politics are generally described as minarchist and libertarian, though she did not use the first term and disavowed any connection to the second. She wrote of Objectivism that it amounted to "the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute." The individual "must exist for his own sake", she wrote in 1962, "neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself".

She supported laissez-faire capitalism, holding that the sole function of government ought to be the protection of individual rights, including property rights. Rejecting faith as antithetical to reason, she opposed any form of mysticism or supernaturalism, including organized religion.

Rand saw the initiation of force or fraud as immoral, and held that government action should consist only in protecting citizens from criminal aggression (via the police), foreign aggression (via the military), and in maintaining a system of courts to decide guilt in criminal cases and to resolve civil disputes. In a 1976 question and answer session, she said that the most important parts of her philosophy were her "theory of concepts, my ethics, and my discovery in politics that evil—the violation of rights—consists of the initiation of force".

Today's mawkish concern with and compassion for the feeble, the flawed, the suffering, the guilty, is a cover for the profoundly Kantian hatred of the innocent, the strong, the able, the successful, the virtuous, the confident, the happy. A philosophy out to destroy man's mind is necessarily a philosophy of hatred for man, for man's life, and for every human value. Hatred of the good for being the good, is the hallmark of the twentieth century.

She recognized an intellectual kinship with John Locke in political philosophy, agreeing with Locke's ideas that individuals have a right to the products of their own labor and have natural rights to life, liberty, and property. Unlike Locke, she found the basis for individual rights in man's nature as a being whose survival depends upon his independent exercise of reason.

In 1951 Rand moved from Los Angeles to 36 East 36th Street (across from the J.P. Morgan Library) in New York City, the city she most loved and admired. From 1965 to her death in 1982, she resided at 120 East 34th Street. In New York, she formed a group (jokingly designated "The Collective") which included future Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, a young psychology student named Nathan Blumenthal (later Nathaniel Branden) and his wife Barbara, and Leonard Peikoff, all of whom had been profoundly influenced by The Fountainhead. Rand launched the Objectivist movement with this group to promote her philosophy.

The group originally started out as an informal gathering of friends who met with Rand on weekends at her apartment to discuss philosophy; later the Collective would proceed to play a larger, more formal role, reading Atlas Shrugged as the manuscript pages were written and promoting Rand's philosophy through the Nathaniel Branden Institute (NBI), established by him for that purpose. Many Collective members gave lectures at the NBI and in cities across the United States, while others wrote articles for her publications, The Objectivist Newsletter and The Objectivist. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Rand developed and promoted her Objectivist philosophy through her non-fiction works, and by giving talks at several prominent universities, including Yale, Columbia, and the University of Michigan. "The Objectivist Newsletter, later expanded and renamed simply The Objectivist, contained essays by Rand, Branden, and other associates ... that analyzed current political events and applied the principles of Objectivism to everyday life." Rand later published some of these in book form.

After several years, Rand's close relationship with the much younger Branden turned into a romantic affair, with the consent of their spouses. It lasted until Branden (having separated from Barbara) entered into an affair with the young actress Patrecia Scott, whom he later married. The Brandens hid the affair from Rand, lied about it (by their own admission). When Rand found out, she abruptly ended her relationship with both Brandens and with NBI, which closed. She published a letter in The Objectivist repudiating Branden for dishonesty and other "irrational behavior", never disclosing their affair. Both Brandens remain personae non gratae with certain Objectivists, particularly the group that formed the Ayn Rand Institute.

To defend and explain her position on reason, she developed a theory of sense-perception that distinguishes between the form and object of perception, holding that the form in which an organism perceives is determined by its physiological means of perception but that in whatever form it perceives, what it perceives—the object of its perception—is reality. She rejected the Kantian dichotomy between "things as we perceive them" and "things as they are in themselves." Perception, she held, is the unchallengeable given; perception, being physiologically determined, cannot make mistakes or err. Apparent errors, such as in "optical illusions," she regarded as errors in the conceptual identification of what is seen, not in the seeing itself. Perception is, she argued, automatic, infallible, and provides the base for the non-automatic, fallible processes of conceptual interpretation and inference that is the sphere of reason.

In other areas of epistemology, she advanced a theory that concepts, and knowledge generally, is both contextual and hierarchical. She rejected the "analytic-synthetic" dichotomy, holding that the meaning of a concept includes all the characteristics of its referents, including those yet to be discovered. Her overall theory of the cognitive function of concepts was that they expand man's range of awareness by condensing the number of units one needs to hold in mind in one frame of awareness ("unit-economy").

A strong advocate of Aristotelian logic, she titled the three parts of Atlas Shrugged with the names of the three axioms of Aristotelian logic: "A is A," "Non-Contradiction," and "Either/Or." In regard to inductive logic, she held that her theory of concepts would provide the basis for a new approach to validating inductive generalization, and Leonard Peikoff has attempted this development.

Rand held that the only moral social system is laissez-faire capitalism. Her political views were strongly individualist and hence anti-statist and anti-Communist. She exalted what she saw as the heroic American values of rational egoism and individualism. As a champion of rationality, Rand also had a strong opposition to mysticism and religion, which she believed helped foster a crippling culture acting against individual human happiness and success. Rand detested many prominent liberal and conservative politicians of her time, including prominent anti-Communists, such as Harry S. Truman, Ronald Reagan, Hubert Humphrey, and Joseph McCarthy.

Jim Powell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, considers Rand one of the three founders (along with Rose Wilder Lane and Isabel Paterson) of modern American libertarianism, although she rejected libertarianism and the libertarian movement.

Rand opposed the Vietnam War, but also believed that unilateral American withdrawal would be a mistake of appeasement that would embolden communists and the Soviet Union. Her opposition to the Vietnam War was based on her view that no actual American self-interest was involved, that it was an exercise in self-sacrifice, not self-defense. She vehemently opposed the draft and her argument that a draft violates the right to life motivated some of those in the Nixon Administration who worked for the draft's repeal.

Rand supported Israel during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, which she saw as an attack by a primitive society on a government that largely supported individual rights. While Rand characterized Israel as "a mixed economy inclined toward socialism," this was secondary to the consideration that "when it comes to the power of the mind—the development of industry in that wasted desert continent—versus savages who don't want to use their minds, then if one cares about the future of civilization, don't wait for the government to do something. Give whatever you can".

Rand expressed qualified enthusiasm for the economic thought of Ludwig von Mises and Henry Hazlitt, and The Ludwig von Mises Institute notes that "it was largely as a result of Ayn's efforts that the work of von Mises began to reach its potential audience." Later Objectivists, such as Richard Salsman, have claimed that Rand's economic theories are implicitly more supportive of the doctrines of Jean-Baptiste Say, though Rand herself was likely not acquainted with his work.

Rand did not see charity as a moral duty or a major virtue and held charity to be proper only when the recipient is worthy and when it does not involve sacrifice. She opposed all forms of aid given by governments, just as she opposed any other government activity not directed at protecting individual rights.

Rand's views on gender role are controversial. While her books champion men and women as intellectual equals, she thought that physiological differences between the sexes led to fundamental psychological differences that were the source of legitimate gender roles, revolving around the man's initiatory role in the sex act. Rand denied endorsing any kind of power-difference between men and women, stating that man's "metaphysical dominance" in sexual relations refers to the man's role as the prime mover in sex and the necessity of male arousal for sex to occur. According to Rand, "For a woman qua woman, the essence of femininity is hero-worship—the desire to look up to man." Rand believed that sex in its highest form is a physical response to intellectual and spiritual values, a means of giving concrete, physical expression to values that could otherwise only be experienced in the abstract.

Rand did not speak at length on the topic of homosexuality, nor publish her views on it in her lifetime. However, in a 1971 speech at the Ford Hall Forum, Rand declared her belief that homosexuality was immoral, saying that "there is a psychological immorality at the root of homosexuality" because "it involves psychological flaws, corruptions, errors, or unfortunate premises", and that in her sincere opinion it was "disgusting". She followed these assertions by saying the government had no right to prohibit homosexual behavior, and called for all such laws to be repealed. Harry Binswanger reports asking Rand her opinion privately around 1980 and receiving the reply that not enough was known about the development of homosexuality in an individual's psychology to judge that it necessarily involved immorality. Her position has been a subject of controversy within the Objectivist movement.

After the hearings, when Rand was asked about her feelings on the effectiveness of their investigations, she described the process as "futile".

In 1973, she was briefly reunited with her youngest sister, Nora, who still lived in the Soviet Union. Although Rand had written 1,200 letters to her family in the Soviet Union, and had attempted to bring them to the United States, she had ceased contacting them in 1937 after reading a notice in the post office that letters from Americans might imperil Russians at risk from Stalinist repression. Rand received a letter from Nora in 1973 and invited her and her husband to America; but her sister's views had changed, and to Rand's disappointment Nora voluntarily returned to the USSR.

Rand underwent surgery for lung cancer in 1974, and conflicts continued in the wake of the break with Branden and the subsequent collapse of the Nathaniel Branden Institute (NBI). Several more of her closest "Collective" friends parted company with her, and during the late 1970s her activities within the Objectivist movement declined, especially after the death of her husband on November 9, 1979. One of her final projects was work on a television adaptation of Atlas Shrugged. She had also planned to write another novel, To Lorne Dieterling, but did not get far in her notes.

Rand died of heart failure on March 6, 1982 at her 34th Street home in New York City, years after having successfully battled cancer, and was interred in the Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, New York. Rand's funeral was attended by some of her prominent followers, including Alan Greenspan. David Kelley read her favorite poem Rudyard Kipling's "If—". A six-foot floral arrangement in the shape of a dollar sign was placed near her casket.

Beginning in 1960, Rand was a visiting lecturer at several universities such as Yale University, Princeton University and Columbia University. In subsequent years, she went on to lecture at University of Wisconsin, Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University and MIT. She received an honorary doctorate from Lewis & Clark College in 1963.

For many years, she gave an annual lecture at the Ford Hall Forum, responding, afterwards, in her famously spirited form to questions from the audience.

After decades of dismissal or outright hostility from the profession, Rand's ideas have found some recognition within academic philosophy. Several American universities have established chairs or centers for the study of Rand's views, and fellowships have been establish to support individual scholars. Her books continue to be widely sold and read, with 25 million copies sold (as of 2007), and 800,000 more being sold each year. Following Rand's death, continued conflict within the Objectivist movement led to establishment of independent organizations.

A range of institutes dealing with her work have been established since Rand's death.

In 1985, Leonard Peikoff, a surviving member of "The Collective" and Ayn Rand's legal heir, established "The Ayn Rand Institute: The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism" (ARI). The Ayn Rand Institute "works to introduce young people to Ayn Rand's novels, to support scholarship and research based on her ideas, and to promote the principles of reason, rational self-interest, individual rights and laissez-faire capitalism to the widest possible audience." In 1989, Dr. David Kelley was denounced by Peikoff in a doctrinal dispute and expelled from the Ayn Rand Institute, at which point Kelley founded The Institute for Objectivist Studies, now known as The Atlas Society, which has its own web site and publications is focused on attracting readers of Ayn Rand's fiction. The associated Objectivist Center division deals with more academic ventures. The Atlas Society/Objectivist Center also publishes The New Individualist (formerly Navigator).

Organized in 2000 by historian John McCaskey, The Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship provides grants for the pursuit of scholarly work on Objectivism in academia. Recent grants have gone to the University of Pittsburgh (Department of History and Philosophy of Science) and to philosophy departments at the University of Texas at Austin.

Although Rand's influence has been greatest in the United States, she has a growing international following. Her books were international best sellers, and they continue to sell in large numbers. For example, Atlas Shrugged is consistently in the top few hundred best sellers at Amazon.com; 185,000 copies were sold in 2007, fifty years after it was first published.

When asked in a 1991 survey by the Library of Congress and the Book-of-the-Month Club what the most influential book in the respondent's life was, Rand's Atlas Shrugged was the second most popular choice, after the Bible. Readers polled in 1998 and 1999 by Modern Library placed four of her books on the 100 Best Novels list (Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, Anthem, and We the Living were in first, second, seventh, and eighth place, respectively) and one on the 100 Best Nonfiction list (The Virtue of Selfishness, in first place), with books about Rand and her philosophy in third and sixth place. However, the validity of such polls has been disputed. Freestar Media/Zogby polls conducted in 2007 found that around 8 percent of American adults have read Atlas Shrugged.

Rand has had an influence on a number of notable people in different fields. Examples include philosophers such as John Hospers, George H. Smith, Allan Gotthelf, Robert Mayhew and Tara Smith, economists such as George Reisman and Murray Rothbard, psychologists such as Nathaniel Branden, historians such as Eric Daniels, and political writers such as Charles Murray. Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan, U.S. Congressmen Ron Paul, and Bob Barr, and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Clarence Thomas have acknowledged her influence on their lives. The "Randex" website lists recent media references to Rand or her work. Although not an Objectivist, former United States President Ronald Reagan described himself as an "admirer" of Rand in private correspondence in the 1960s.

BioShock, an award-winning video game released in the summer of 2007, is built around a story influenced by Rand's philosophy and Atlas Shrugged.

Rand appears on a 33 cent U.S. postage stamp, which debuted April 22, 1999 in New York City.

Objectivist novelist Kay Nolte Smith's early novels The Watcher, Catching Fire and Elegy for a Soprano are romans a clef about Rand, Branden, and the circle around them. Rand figures prominently in William F. Buckley's novel Getting it Right.

The Canadian rock band Rush has explored many Rand themes in their lyrics, most notably, the concept album "2112", which is loosely based on the novel Anthem.

During Rand's lifetime her work was not given much attention by academic philosophers, and currently only a few universities consider Rand or Objectivism to be a philosophical specialty or research area. Many adherents and practitioners of continental philosophy criticize her celebration of self-interest, and as a result there has been little focus on her work in this intellectual discipline. However, since her death in 1982, there has been an increase in interest in Ayn Rand's work. In a 1999 interview in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Rand scholar Chris Matthew Sciabarra said, "I know they laugh at Rand", while forecasting a growth of interest in her work in the academic community.

However her views have either been dismissed, or ignored her entirely, by the philosophical establishment, some of whom have been scathing about her lack of rigour and her apparently limited understanding of philosophical subject-matter.

Fellowships for the study of Ayn Rand's ideas have been established by the Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship at academic institutions with world-class philosophy programs such as the University of Texas at Austin (where a $300,000 fellowship was sponsored by the foundation in 2001). Rand's ideas have also been made the subjects of study at Clemson and Duke universities.

The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (JARS), a self-described "nonpartisan" peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the study of Ayn Rand—principally her philosophic work—is published twice yearly, while the Ayn Rand Society, founded in 1987 and affiliated with the American Philosophical Association, has been active in sponsoring seminars.

It should be stressed in conclusion that whether one is a fan or a detractor of Ayn Rand, the issues raised by this book are manifold and provocative. This book should force a debate of renewed vigor about what we mean by egoism, whether and how the egoism/altruism dichotomy should be applied within eudaemonistic ethical theories, and what our ethical theories imply about our political outlook. Smith provides us with a version of egoism that will need to be argued against by those who find it distasteful or misguided, rather than simply dismissed.

In a 1984 article called "The Benefits and Hazards of the Philosophy of Ayn Rand", Nathaniel Branden criticized Rand for her "scientific conservatism" and indifference to "anything more recent than the work of Sir Isaac Newton", reporting his astonishment at hearing her describe the theory of evolution as "only a hypothesis". Her insistence that Objectivism was an integrated whole, the departure from which necessarily lead one into logical error, led him to conclude that her philosophy was "for all practical purposes" a "dogmatic religion".

Online U.S. News and World Report columnist Sara Dabney Tisdale says academic philosophers have generally dismissed Atlas Shrugged as "sophomoric, preachy, and unoriginal." In addition, Greg Nyquist has written that Rand's philosophy fundamentally misunderstands the very core of human nature.

On his blog, Kant scholar William Vallicella has been scathing in describing what he calls her lack of rigour and limited understanding of philosophical subject-matter.

One significant exception to the general lack of attention paid to Rand in academic philosophy is the essay "On the Randian Argument" by Harvard University philosopher Robert Nozick, which appears in his collection, Socratic Puzzles. Nozick is sympathetic to Rand's political conclusions, but does not think her arguments justify them. In particular, his essay criticizes her foundational argument in ethics—laid out most explicitly in her book The Virtue of Selfishness—which claims that one's own life is, for each individual, the ultimate value because it makes all other values possible. Nozick says that to make this argument sound one needs to explain why someone could not rationally prefer dying and thus having no values. Therefore, he argues, her attempt to defend the morality of selfishness is essentially an instance of begging the question. Nozick also argues that Rand's solution to David Hume's famous is-ought problem is unsatisfactory. Tara Smith responds to this criticism in her book Viable Values. Philosophers Douglas Rasmussen and Douglas Den Uyl have also responded to Nozick's article, arguing that there are basic misstatements of Rand's case on Nozick's part.

Rand has also been accused of misinterpreting the works of many of the philosophers that she criticized in her writing. According to Fred Seddon, author of Ayn Rand, Objectivists, and the History of Philosophy (2003), Nathaniel Branden stated that Rand never read any of Immanuel Kant's works.

Finally, Murray Rothbard (who helped define modern libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism), Jeff Walker, and Michael Shermer (libertarian and founder of the The Skeptics Society), have accused Objectivism of being a cult, claiming that it exhibited typical cult traits, including slavish adherence to unprovable doctrine and extreme adulation of the founder.

Rand's novels, when they were first published, "received almost unanimously terrible reviews" and were derided by some critics as long and melodramatic. However, they became bestsellers due largely to word of mouth. Scholars of English and American literature have largely ignored her work, although Rand has received occasional positive reviews from the literary establishment.

The most famous review of Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged was written by the conservative author Whittaker Chambers and appeared in National Review in 1957. It was unrelentingly scathing. Chambers called the book "sophomoric"; and "remarkably silly," and said it "can be called a novel only by devaluing the term." He described the tone of the book as "shrillness without reprieve." Chambers accused Rand of supporting the same godless system as the Soviets, claiming "From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: 'To the gas chambers—go!'" Five decades later, Capitalism Magazine published a reply, arguing that Chambers had not actually read the book, as he misspelled the names of two major characters and used no quotations from the novel in his critique.

Another critic, Mimi Gladstein (author of The New Ayn Rand Companion), called Rand's characters flat and uninteresting, and her heroes implausibly wealthy, intelligent, physically attractive and free of doubt while arrayed against antagonists who are weak, pathetic, full of uncertainty, and lacking in imagination and talent.

Rand stated in a 1963 essay, titled "The Goal of My Writing", that her fiction was intentionally different in that its goal was to project a vision of an ideal man: not man as he is, but man as he might be and ought to be. Rand, who described herself as a "romantic realist", presented her theory of aesthetics more fully in her 1969 book, The Romantic Manifesto: A Philosophy of Literature.

Without Rand's knowledge or permission, We the Living was made into a pair of films, Noi vivi and Addio, Kira in 1942 by Scalara Films, Rome. They were nearly censored by the Italian government under Benito Mussolini, but they were permitted because the novel upon which they were based was anti-Soviet. The films were successful, and the public easily realized that they were as much against Fascism as Communism. These films were re-edited into a new version which was approved by Rand and re-released as We the Living in 1986.

Signed to a contract to write for Hal Wallis at Paramount Pictures in 1945, Rand collaborated on screenplays of You Came Along and the Oscar-nominated Love Letters, both filmed in 1945.

The Fountainhead was a Hollywood film (1949, Warner Bros.) starring Gary Cooper, for which Rand wrote the screen-play. Rand initially insisted that Frank Lloyd Wright design the architectural models used in the film, but relented when his fee was too high.

A film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged is in pre-production as of early 2008, with production possibly starting in December if the script can be revised in time. In September 2007, Lions Gate Films reported that it had hired Vadim Perelman to revise Randall Wallace's script and to direct the film, with screen star Angelina Jolie cast in the role of Dagny Taggart. Jolie's 2008 pregnancy and Perelman's departure have cast the project into doubt.

The Passion of Ayn Rand, an independent film about her life, was made in 1999, starring Helen Mirren as Ayn Rand, Eric Stoltz, Julie Delpy and Peter Fonda. The film was based on the book by Barbara Branden, one of her former associates, and won several awards including an Emmy for Helen Mirren and a Golden Globe for Peter Fonda. This film's accuracy and fairness to Rand has been questioned by The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics, by James Valliant, and even by associates of Barbara Branden, such as Robert Bidinotto.

A documentary film about Rand's life, Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary of the Year.

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Ayn Rand Institute

The Ayn Rand Institute: The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism (ARI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit think tank in Irvine, California that promotes Ayn Rand's philosophy, called Objectivism. It was established in 1985, three years after Rand's death, by Leonard Peikoff, Rand's legal heir. Its executive director is Yaron Brook.

ARI is mainly an educational organization, but also has "outreach programs." Its various programs include classes on Objectivism and related subjects offered through its Objectivist Academic Center, public lectures, Op-Eds articles, letters to the editor, competitions for essays about Rand's novels, materials for Objectivist campus clubs, supplying Rand's writings to schools and professors, and providing intellectuals for radio and TV interviews.

Leonard Peikoff, Ayn Rand's designated legal and intellectual heir, founded the Ayn Rand Institute in 1985, three years after her death. Both Rand and Peikoff had expressed negative thoughts concerning the formation of bureaucratic organizations designed to promote Objectivism. Rand never intended that Objectivism would become an organized movement (especially not with her leading the movement), but she approved of rational individuals with the same ideas working toward a common goal. Peikoff was initially wary of creating ARI, but was eventually persuaded to do so, and in 2006 he commented that he approves of the work ARI has done.

The Institute was originally headquartered in Marina del Rey, California and its executive director was Dr. Mike Berliner. In 2000, Dr. Yaron Brook replaced Dr. Berliner as executive director and the Institute was moved to Irvine, California.

ARI offers to give to high schools classroom sets of Ayn Rand's novels Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged. ARI also continues this program at the university level by offering professors free review copies of Rand's writings.

ARI sponsors essay contests on Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged. Students worldwide submit essays based on questions about Rand's novels which stress her ideas and their importance in today's world.

The Anthem essay contest is for 8th, 9th and 10th graders with a top prize of $2,000, The essay contest on The Fountainhead is for 11th and 12th graders with a top prize of $10,000, and the Atlas Shrugged essay contest is for 12th graders, college undergraduates, and graduate students with a top prize of $10,000.

The Institute has offered 521 prizes for the 2008 contests, totalling $81,250.

ARI offers copies of essays, pamphlets, and recorded lectures, and provides live speakers to Objectivist clubs at universities and high schools.

ARI runs an educational program called the Objectivist Academic Center (OAC), which conducts classes on Objectivism and related fields.

ARI offers financial assistance to students applying to graduate school, and provides mentors for OAC students.

ARI offers free copies and classroom sets of Rand's books to professors, as well as class syllabi which include Ayn Rand.

Intellectuals from ARI often appear on radio and television, and their Op-Ed articles and letters to the editor have appeared in many major newspapers.

ARI fellows frequently give public lectures in Orange County, California. They also lecture elsewhere, including college campuses across the U.S.

ARI operates the Ayn Rand Bookstore, which sells lectures and other materials from Objectivists.

ARI organizes a conference each summer which features lectures and dance classes from Objectivists.

Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights In 2008, The Ayn Rand Institute opened the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights ("ARC") in Washington, D.C. to specialize in issues of public policy.

Atheism being a tenet of Objectivism, ARI promotes the separation of church and state, and its writers argue that the Religious Right poses a threat to individual rights. Its writers have argued against displaying religious symbols (such as the Ten Commandments) in government facilities and against faith-based initiatives. The Institute argues that religion is incompatible with American ideals and opposes the teaching of "intelligent design" in public schools. ARI also supports women's right to choose abortion, voluntary euthanasia, and assisted suicide.

ARI has taken many controversial positions with respect to the Islamic world.

They hold that the motivation for Islamic terrorism comes from Muhammad's own teachings, not "poverty" nor a reaction to Western policies.

The choice today is mass death in the United States or mass death in the terrorist nations. Our Commander-In-Chief must decide whether it is his duty to save Americans or the governments who conspire to kill them.

Though some at ARI initially supported the invasion of Iraq, it opposes how the Iraq War is now being handled.

The Institute is generally supportive of Israel. Of Zionism, executive director of the institute writes: "Zionism fused a valid concern - self-preservation amid a storm of hostility - with a toxic premise - ethnically based collectivism and religion.".

In response to the Muhammad cartoons controversy, ARI started a Free Speech Campaign.

ARI is highly critical of environmentalism and animal rights, arguing that they are destructive of human well-being.

The Institute is also highly critical of diversity and affirmative action programs, as well as multiculturalism, arguing that they are based on racist premises.

Charity Navigator, which rates charitable and educational organizations to inform potential donors, gives ARI three out of four stars. According to the latest data from Charity Navigator, the Institute spends 80.6% of its expenses on programs, 11.3% on fundraising, and 8% on administration.

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The Ayn Rand Letter

The Ayn Rand Letter was an Objectivist magazine published from October 1971 to February 1976, as successor to the previous The Objectivist.

Unlike the previous magazines, it was produced in the style of a typewritten letter, with usually a single major article per issue, and was usually 6-8 pages long. Originally published fortnightly, Rand's ill health caused the letter to become increasingly behind schedule around 1975 (a whole year passed between issues), when it went monthly (then bi-monthly), and finally ceased publication, after only 3 issues were published in 1975 & 1976. The closest to a successor publication was The Objectivist Forum, which came out in 1980.

Rand was the publisher, editor and the author of most of the articles, however, Leonard Peikoff contributed articles as well, and was associate editor.

Most of Rand's articles were later reprinted in the books Philosophy: Who Needs It and The Voice of Reason.

A hardback collection of the Letter was published by Palo Alto Book Service and is still available from the Ayn Rand Institute through the Ayn Rand Bookstore.

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Objectivism (Ayn Rand)

The Fountainhead Cafe, a coffee shop in New York City inspired by Objectivism. The sign reads "Eat Objectively, Live Rich".

Objectivism is a philosophy developed by Ayn Rand in the 20th century that encompasses integrated positions on metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, and aesthetics.

My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.

Ayn Rand characterized Objectivism as "a philosophy for living on earth," grounded in reality, and aimed at defining man's nature and the nature of the world in which he lives. Rand initially expressed these ideas in her novels The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, and other works. She further elaborated on them in The Objectivist Newsletter, The Objectivist, The Ayn Rand Letter, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, and other non-fiction books.

Objectivism holds: that reality exists independent of consciousness; that individual persons are in contact with this reality through sensory perception; that human beings can gain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive and deductive logic; that the proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness or rational self-interest; that the only social system consistent with this morality is full respect for individual rights, embodied in pure laissez-faire capitalism; and that the role of art in human life is to transform man's widest metaphysical ideas, by selective reproduction of reality, into a physical form—a work of art—that he can comprehend and to which he can respond emotionally.

Rand chose Objectivism as the name of her philosophy, saying her ideal term to label a philosophy based on the primacy of existence, Existentialism, had already been taken. The word is capitalized to distinguish it from other philosophical positions to which the term "objectivism" has been applied.

Rand held that when one is able to perceive something, then one's "Consciousness exists" (the Axiom of Consciousness), consciousness "being the faculty of perceiving that which exists." Objectivism maintains that what exists does not exist because one thinks it exists; it simply exists, regardless of anyone's awareness, knowledge or opinion. For Rand, "to be conscious is to be conscious of something," so that an objective reality independent of consciousness has to exist first for consciousness to become possible, and there is no possibility of a consciousness that is conscious of nothing outside itself. Thus consciousness cannot be the only thing that exists. "It cannot be aware only of itself — there is no 'itself' until it is aware of something." Objectivism holds that the mind cannot create reality, but rather, it is a means of discovering reality.

Objectivist philosophy regards the Law of Causality, which states that things act in accordance with their natures, as "the law of identity applied to action." Rand rejected the popular notion that the causal link relates action to action. According to Rand, an "action" is not an entity, rather, it is entities that act, and every action is the action of an entity. The way entities interact is caused by the specific nature (or "identity") of those entities; if they were different there would be a different result.

The starting point of Objectivist epistemology is the principle, presented by Rand as a direct consequence of the metaphysical axiom that "Existence is Identity," that Knowledge is Identification. Objectivist epistemology defines how one can translate perception, i.e., awareness acquired through the senses, into valid concepts that identify the facts of reality.

Objectivism rejects philosophical skepticism and states that only by the method of reason can man gain knowledge (identification of the facts of reality). Objectivism also rejects faith and "feeling" as means of attaining knowledge. Although Rand acknowledged the importance of emotion in humans, she maintained that emotion was a consequence of the conscious or subconscious ideas one already holds, not a means of achieving awareness of reality.

Perhaps Ayn Rand's most distinctive contribution in epistemology is her theory that concepts are properly formed by measurement omission. Rand uses measurement here in the broad sense of comparing any quantitative or qualitative relationship, even such things as the intensity of love, not just physical measurements such as mass, time, or distance.

Rand did not consider the analytic-synthetic distinction to have merit. She similarly denied the existence of a priori knowledge. Rand also considered her ideas distinct from foundationalism, naive realism, or representationalism (i.e., an indirect realist who believes in a "veil of ideas") like Descartes or John Locke.

The Objectivist ethic begins with a meta-ethical question: why do human beings need a code of values? The Objectivist answer is that humans, as beings of volitional consciousness, need such a code in order to survive as human beings.

Objectivism maintains that human beings, unlike other organisms, cannot act automatically to further their own survival. For man, the conceptual faculty is his tool for survival. An organism that possesses a faculty of sensation relies on its pleasure-pain mechanism; an animal that operates at the level of perception can use its perceptions to instinctively go through its essentially cyclic life; but a human being must rely on an integrated whole of his perceptual (rooted in sensations) and conceptual faculties.

Rand defined "ethics" as "a code of values to guide man's choices and actions—the choices and actions that determine the purpose and the course of his life." She sometimes referred to the Objectivist ethics in particular as "selfishness," as reflected in the title of her primary book on ethics, The Virtue of Selfishness. However, she did not use that term with the negative connotations that it usually has, but to refer to a form of rational egoism.

Unlike many other philosophers, Ayn Rand limited the scope of ethics to the derivation of principles needed in all contexts, whether one is alone or with others.

There is a difference, therefore, between rational self-interest as pursuit of one's own life and happiness in reality, and what Ayn Rand called "selfishness without a self"—a range-of-the-moment pseudo-"selfish" whim-worship or "hedonism." A whim-worshipper or "hedonist," according to Rand, is not motivated by a desire to live his own human life, but by a wish to live on a sub-human level. Instead of using "that which promotes my (human) life" as his standard of value, he mistakes "that which I (mindlessly happen to) value" for a standard of value, in contradiction of the fact that, existentially, he is a human and therefore rational organism. The "I value" in whim-worship or hedonism can be replaced with "we value," "he values," "they value," or "God values," and still it would remain dissociated from reality. Rand repudiated the equation of rational selfishness with hedonistic or whim-worshipping "selfishness-without-a-self." She held that the former is good, and the latter evil, and that there is a fundamental difference between them. A corollary to Rand's endorsement of self-interest is her rejection of the ethical doctrine of altruism—which she defined in the sense of August Comte's altruism (he coined the term), as a moral obligation to live for the sake of others.

Objectivism holds that morality is a "code of values accepted by choice." According to Leonard Peikoff, Rand held that "man needs for one reason only: he needs it in order to survive. Moral laws, in this view, are principles that define how to nourish and sustain human life; they are no more than this and no less." Objectivism does not claim that there is a moral requirement to choose to value one's life. As Allan Gotthelf points out, for Rand, "Morality rests on a fundamental, pre-moral choice:" the moral agent's choice to live rather than die, so that the moral "ought" is always contextual and agent-relative. To be moral is to choose that which promotes one's life in one's actual context. There are no "categorical imperatives" (as in Kantianism) that an individual would be obliged to carry out regardless of consequences for his life.

Objectivism holds that human beings have the right to manipulate nature in any way they see fit, as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others. On the Objectivist account, the rights of other human beings are not of direct moral import to the agent who respects them; they acquire their moral purchase through an intermediate step. An Objectivist respects the rights of other human beings out of the recognition of the value to himself or herself of living in a world in which the freedom of action of other rational (or potentially rational) human beings is respected. One's respect for the rights of others is founded on the value, to oneself, of other persons as actual or potential partners in cooperation and trade.

For these reasons Ayn Rand defends capitalism as the ideal form of human society. Objectivism reserves the name "capitalism" for "full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism" —i.e., a society in which the defence of individual rights, which include individual property rights, are the only function of government. Any system short of full laissez faire capitalism is regarded by Objectivists as a "mixed economy" consisting of certain aspects of personal ownership and its opposite (usually called socialism or statism),.

Far from regarding capitalism as a dog-eat-dog pattern of social organization, Objectivism regards it as a beneficent system in which the innovations of the most creative benefit everyone else in the society (although that is not its justification). Indeed, Objectivism values creative achievement itself and regards capitalism as the only kind of society in which it can flourish.

A society is, by Objectivist standards, moral to the extent that individuals are free to pursue their own goals. This freedom requires that human relationships of all forms be voluntary (which, in the Objectivist view, means that they must not involve the use of physical force), mutual consent being the defining characteristic of a free society. Thus, the proper role of institutions of governance is limited to using force in retaliation against those who initiate its use—i.e., against criminals and foreign aggressors. Economically, people are free to produce and exchange as they see fit, with as complete a separation of state and economics as of state and church. Thus, Objectivism holds that a proper government must have its power strictly limited by an objectively defined charter and procedures designed to protect the pre-existing rights of its citizens.

The Objectivist theory of art flows from its epistemology, by way of "psycho-epistemology" (Rand's term for an individual's characteristic mode of functioning in acquiring knowledge). Art, according to Objectivism, serves a human cognitive need: it allows human beings to grasp concepts as though they were percepts.

Objectivism defines "art" as a "selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's metaphysical value-judgments"—that is, according to what the artist believes to be ultimately true and important about the nature of reality and humanity. In this respect Objectivism regards art as a way of presenting abstractions concretely, in perceptual form.

The human need for art, on this view, stems from the need for cognitive economy. A concept is already a sort of mental shorthand standing for a large number of concretes, allowing a human being to think indirectly or implicitly of many more such concretes than can be held explicitly in mind. But a human being cannot hold indefinitely many concepts explicitly in mind either—and yet, on the Objectivist view, needs a comprehensive conceptual framework in order to provide guidance in life.

Art offers a way out of this dilemma by providing a perceptual, easily grasped means of communicating and thinking about a wide range of abstractions.

Objectivism regards art as an effective way to communicate a moral or ethical ideal. Objectivism does not, however, regard art as propagandistic: even though art involves moral values and ideals, its purpose is not to educate, only to show or project.

Moreover, art need not be, and often is not, the outcome of a full-blown, explicit philosophy. Usually it stems from an artist's sense of life (which is preconceptual and largely emotional).

The term "romanticism", however, is often affiliated with emotionalism, to which Objectivism is completely opposed. Historically, many romantic artists were philosophically subjectivist. Most Objectivists who are also artists subscribe to what they call romantic realism, which is how Ayn Rand labeled her own work.

Objectivism has been largely ignored or harshly criticized by academics. Objectivism has been called "fiercely anti-academic." David Sidorsky, a professor of moral and political philosophy at Columbia University, says Rand's work is "outside the mainstream" and is more of an ideological movement than a well-grounded philosophy.

In recent years Rand's works are more likely to be encountered in the classroom than in decades past. Since 1999, several monographs were published and a refereed Journal of Ayn Rand Studies began. In 2006 the University of Pittsburgh held a conference focusing on Objectivism. In addition, two Objectivist philosophers (Tara Smith and James Lennox) hold tenured positions at two of the fifteen leading American philosophy departments. Objectivist programs and fellowships have been supported at the University of Pittsburgh, University of Texas at Austin and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Ayn Rand Society, dedicated to fostering the scholarly study of Objectivism, is affiliated with the American Philosophical Association's Eastern Division.

The influence of Rand’s ideas was strongest among college students in the USA but attracted little attention from academic philosophers. … Rand’s political theory is of little interest. Its unremitting hostility towards the state and taxation sits inconsistently with a rejection of anarchism, and her attempts to resolve the difficulty are ill-thought out and unsystematic.

Allan Gotthelf (chairman of the Ayn Rand Society) responded unfavorably to this entry and came to her defense. He and other scholars have argued for more academic study of Objectivism, viewing Rand's philosophy as a unique and intellectually interesting defense of classical liberalism that is worth debating.

Despite the claims of critics, such as William F. Buckley, Jr. who called her philosophy "stillborn", Ayn Rand's books remain popular, selling over 400,000 copies per year.

Prominent Objectivist Leonard Peikoff, published Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (E. P. Dutton), a comprehensive survey of Ayn Rand's philosophy. Objectivism is central to Ronald Merrill's introductory monograph The Ideas of Ayn Rand (Open Court Publishing), as it is to Chris Matthew Sciabarra's Ayn Rand: the Russian Radical (1995, Pennsylvania State University Press). Other survey works on Rand's philosophy include: Objectivism in One Lesson by Andrew Bernstein, Ph.D., (2009, Hamilton), Ayn Rand by Tibor Machan, Ph.D., (2000, Peter Lang) and On Ayn Rand by Allan Gotthelf, Ph.D., (1999, Wadsworth Philosophers Series).

Monographs on specific aspects of Objectivism include: The Evidence of the Senses (1986, Louisiana State University Press) and A Theory of Abstraction (2001, The Objectivist Center Press) by David Kelley; The Psychology of Self Esteem by Nathaniel Branden (1969, Nash); The Biological Basis of Teleological Concepts (1990, The Ayn Rand Institute Press) by Harry Binswanger; Viable Values (2000, Rowman & Littlefield), Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: the Virtuous Egoist (2006, Cambridge University Press) and Moral Rights and Political Freedom (1995, Open Court Publishing) by Tara Smith; The Capitalist Manifesto, by Andrew Bernstein (2005, University Press of America); What Art Is: the Esthetic Theory of Ayn Rand (2000, Open Court Publishing) by Louis Torres and Michelle Marder Kamhi; The Other Side of Racism (1981, Ohio State University Press) by Anne Wortham; and Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged: A Philosophical and Literary Companion (2007, Ashgate) by Edward Younkins.

The comprehensive Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics by George Reisman (1996), attempts to integrate Objectivist methodology and insights with both Classical and Austrian economics.

A series of essay collections on the philosophical and literary dimensions of Rand's novels, edited by Robert Mayhew, have been published: Essays on Ayn Rand's We the Living (2004), Essays on Ayn Rand's Anthem (2005), Essays on Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead (2006), Essays on Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged (2009) (Lexington Books).

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Source : Wikipedia