Two Reviews

1. The July/August 2008 issue of the New Individualist features a review by Will Thomas (“Atlas, Seen Through Many Eyes,” pp. 52-55) of Ed Younkins’ anthology Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged: A Philosophical and Literary Companion. Atlas Shrugged: A Philosophical and Literary Companion and The Concept 'Horse' Paradox and Wittgensteinian Conceptual InvestigationsHere’s what he says about my contribution (which he kindly includes among the “best essays” that “accurately represent Rand’s distinctive worldview while bringing something new to the table”):

In “Forced to Rule,” philosopher Roderick Long looks at how Atlas Shrugged may have been in part a response to Plato’s dialogue the Republic. The Republic portrays a collectivist utopia where material life and education are sharply controlled by the government. All must act from duty, not self-interest – even the rulers, who should be wise men forced to rule against their inclinations. Long points out that this is strange, since Plato’s appear to focus on individual flourishing. How can there be individual happiness without any freedom? But Plato was a dualist, holding that real knowledge, truth, and virtue proceed from a realm of Ideas only dimly reflected in material reality, and this made him pessimistic about practical affairs. Long shows how Rand strikes back at this conception of man in Atlas Shrugged and details implicit references to Plato in the text. Rand reject the dichotomy of mind versus body and its attendant splits of spirit versus matter, love versus sex, and art versus engineering. In the climax of Atlas, Rand puts Plato’s doctrine to the test as the villains try to torture John Galt – the best and wisest of men, “an engineer and philosopher” – to make him rule them. (Spoiler: It doesn’t work.)

2. Joel Parthemore has an online review of my colleague Kelly Jolley’s excellent book The Concept ‘Horse’ Paradox and Wittgensteinian Conceptual Investigations. While the book’s topic may appear narrow and arcane, “its target,” as Parthemore notes “is nothing less than the nature of structured thought itself.”

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