For the New Intellectual
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|For the New Intellectual|
First edition cover
For the New Intellectual: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand is a 1961 book by Ayn Rand. It was her first long non-fiction book. Much of the material consists of excerpts from Rand's novels, supplemented by a long title essay that focuses on the history of philosophy.
The excerpts from Rand's novels are all speeches on various topics, with the clear majority of the speeches coming from her main novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Her novels Anthem and We The Living each contribute one excerpt. The speech from We The Living is spoken by the main female character Kira Argounova, to the communist Andrei Taganov (one of the two male lead characters).
There are three speeches from The Fountainhead: one by the antagonist Ellsworth Toohey, one which is actually more of a conversation between the sympathetic character Gail Wynand and the hero Howard Roark, and one which is Howard Roark's triumphant courtroom speech. The last is a statement of Ayn Rand's philosophy as it existed at the time of writing The Fountainhead, and is a testimony to the human spirit expressed in individual invention and achievement.
There are six excerpts from Atlas Shrugged, all speeches by various protagonists. The topics covered by the speeches are the philosophical nature of money, the psychology of sexual desire (of a man for a woman), the condemnation encountered by successful industrialists, socialized (i.e. government-regulated) medicine, the motivation of profit versus the public good (from the perspective of an industrialist), and a thorough and lengthy 60-page statement of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism.
The title essay discusses the history of philosophy with particular emphasis on the grievous missteps and errors committed along the way. The author uses two terms to illustrate the most notorious (in her view) individuals that have played a role in the history of philosophy, the terms being "Attila" and "Witch Doctor". She categorizes various participants in human history, who have been a force for evil in her view, as being an "Attila" or "Witch Doctor". An "Attila" is someone in history who used physical ("brute") force to accomplish goals. A "Witch Doctor" is someone (often a philosopher, religious person, or other type of intellectual) who has used the written or spoken word to persuade people to go against their rational minds, often to the advantage of the "Attila" who is currently in power.
She concludes the title essay by saying that she hopes a type of "new intellectual" (hence the title of the essay and the book) will gain prominence. The new intellectual will promote the use of reason to persuade his or her fellow men; as opposed to reliance on force, or the threat of force, in order to persuade by fear.
The book received a number of reviews at the time of its release, although significantly fewer than there were for Rand's novels. In The New York Times Book Review, philosopher Sidney Hook called it a "unique combination of tautology and extravagant absurdity." In a negative review for Esquire, Gore Vidal said Rand "must be read to be believed" and that "Her 'philosophy' is nearly perfect in its immorality".
Rand bibliographer Mimi Reisel Gladstein called Rand's title essay the "major attraction for those who have already read the novels". Historian James T. Baker said the essay "represents Rand's first step from fiction to public philosophy," and called the view of history it presents "intriguing and creative if a bit fantastic".
- Gladstein 1999, p. 119
- Hook, Sidney (April 9, 1961). "Each Man for Himself". The New York Times Book Review: p. 3. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F70914F83B5B147A93CBA9178FD85F458685F9.
- Vidal, Gore (1962). "Two Immoralists: Orville Prescott and Ayn Rand". Rocking the Boat. Boston: Little, Brown. pp. 227–234. OCLC 291123. Reprinted from Esquire, July 1961.
- Gladstein 1999, p. 79
- Baker 1987, p. 70
- Baker 1987, p. 72