Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Tribute to Leonard Peikoff

It takes no time to fall in love, but it takes you years to know what the love is.
Jason Mraz
Life is Wonderful

Leonard Peikoff had a great deal to live up to: except for Alexander the Great, he had the finest education of any person in human history.

He fully lived up to it.

He dedicated himself to understanding Objectivism. Not superficial, moderate, or partial understanding, but real, raw, full, organic, completely first-handed understanding. He never stopped questioning until he understood from his bone marrow out.

Then he applied and taught what he had learned. He taught his heart out, not to get his students to agree, but to think. Thinking in principle -- real understanding -- is the theme of his career, of his teaching as much as his learning.

The sheer quantity of his work is extremely impressive. Interested in understanding Objectivism, logic, education, great plays, communication, grammar, the history of philosophy, or the philosophy of history? The first place to turn is a work by Dr. Peikoff.

When we consider a) the social price that Dr. Peikoff paid for his virtue, the fact he was regarded as a Pariah in his profession for no other reason than first-handed non-conformity, b) the depth of mental effort he engaged in, the level of inspired dedication it takes to fully grasp, automatize, and live by a radical new philosophy in the midst of an antagonistic culture, and c) the critical importance of this achievement, the fact that the establishment of Objectivism is a project upon which the fate of the mankind depends, we can only conclude that this man is a hero. Rarely have so many owed so much to one man.

But Leonard Peikoff achieved more than even that. He did more than just understand and teach Ayn Rand’s world view, he expanded it. He came up with new concepts, ideas, and perspectives that do not merely apply Objectivism vertically to a more concrete field, but add to the Objectivist world view horizontally, at the same level of abstraction. I think of these new ideas and perspectives as Dr. Peikoff’s four horizontal additions. They are:

1. DIM – the tripartite DIM distinctions

Ayn Rand wrote:
“Men’s epistemology – or, more precisely, their psycho-epistemology, their method of awareness – is the most fundamental standard by which they can be classified.”
Dr. Peikoff named and defined those classifications. The DIM trichotomy is a psycho-epistemological broadening of Ayn Rand’s purely epistemological distinction between the objective, subjective, and intrinsic. Ayn Rand’s trichotomy is a categorization of the most technical issue in philosophical theory; Dr. Peikoff’s trichotomy is a categorization of a fundamental aspect of automatized human psychology. DIM provides a less technical, more wide-angle view of the world, allowing us to see men and society in a way that none of the previous trichotomies made fully possible.

I find myself reacting to people, events, and cultural phenomenon by automatically subsuming them under the DIM distinctions as a matter of habit. I use the DIM distinctions as often as I use any other trichotomy in philosophy. DIM cannot literally be considered part of Objectivism – Ayn Rand never knew of it – and it is certainly a fresh stream of new thought, but it flows so perfectly into the rest of Objectivism that it feels as if it were always there.

2. First Level Gens

In the last chapter of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology Ayn Rand wrote that “The organization of concepts into propositions…is outside the scope of this work.” If she had ever written an epistemological treatise on propositions as a companion to her work on concept formation, Dr. Peikoff’s theory of first-level generalizations would have to have been a cardinal element.

Dr. Peikoff’s discovery of first-level generalizations moves the third chapter of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (Abstractions from Abstractions) from the level of concept formation to the level of proposition formation. Just as child begins the long process of concept formation by starting with first-level, perceptual concepts such as “rock”, “ball”, “book”, so he begins the long process of knowledge acquisition by starting with first-level, perceptual generalizations such “Rocks sink in water”, “Balls roll”, “Books fall when pushed off a table”.

Ayn Rand’s theory of abstractions-from-abstractions answers the question “If concepts are exclusively based on the senses, without any pre-conceived innate ideas, how do we account for such abstract concepts as “law”, “marriage”, “science” which have no directly perceived referents, and cannot be grasped ostensively by means of pointing?” Ayn Rand showed that first-level concepts can be and are grasped ostensively, by pointing to perceptual referents, and that higher level concepts can be and are formed by widening and narrowing from this first-level of concept formation.

Dr. Peikoff’s theory of first-level generalizations answers the question “How does a scientist justify leaping from the tiny handful of experiments he actually performs to broad universal generalizations?” Dr. Peikoff showed that scientists do not make inductions based on a conceptual vacuum and a few observations, but against a broad background of prior generalizations that start with first-level generalizations, which can be and are validated ostensively by pointing to perceptual referents.

Ayn Rand showed that abstract concepts have their roots in the evidence of the senses via first level concepts; Dr. Peikoff showed that abstract scientific theories have their roots in the evidence of the senses via first level gens. This is a magnificent integration between Ayn Rand's theory of concepts and the philosophy of science, and a critical historical milestone in the progress of epistemology generally.

3. The Ominous Parallels: the Peikoff-Galt perspective on history

Isaac Newton busted the field of physics wide open. He did this by showing that the mathematical approach to physics yielded a broad, deep, world-changing insight into physical reality that the earlier non-mathematical approach to physics was incapable of achieving. Newton showed that the more concrete science of physics could be truly understood only in terms of the wider, more abstract science of mathematics.

Leonard Peikoff busted the science of history wide open. He did this by showing that the philosophical approach to history yielded a broad, deep, world-changing insight into human history that the earlier non-philosophical approach to history was incapable of achieving. Peikoff showed that the more concrete field of history could be truly understood only in terms of the wider, more abstract field of philosophy (mathematics more humanistic sister science).

Neither Newton nor Peikoff had the slightest trace of rationalism in their approach. Newton did not attempt to infer physics from mathematics; Peikoff did not attempt to infer history from philosophy. Knowledge of the wider field was never regarded as a substitute for knowledge of the narrower field. They both used the wider field as illumination in the very process of drenching themselves in the concretes of the narrower field. It was this perfect objectivity which revolutionized the science.

Dr. Peikoff got the basic idea that philosophy drives the course of history from Ayn Rand, but he developed his own unique perspective on that idea. To make this point clear, let us step back and consider a cardinal theme of John Galt’s personality: his insistence that it is a person’s responsibility to bear the concrete consequences of the convictions that he holds, regardless of whether or not he likes or dislikes those consequences, and regardless of the persons overall moral-psychological character.

Galt’s theme of bearing the consequences of one’s convictions was repeatedly stressed. For example, Galt’s refusal to provide information of Dagny’s safety to Rearden, despite the fact that Galt fully knows what a truly outstanding and sympathetic human being Rearden is and what agony the information would save him from. In response to Francisco’s request to let Rearden know of Dagny’s safety, Galt replies:
“Do you wish to give any outsider any relief from the consequences of remaining outside?"
Later Galt refuses to give that relief, even to Dagny, the woman he loves:
"Have you forgotten that you wanted to shoot me on sight?" he asked.
Dagny shuddered. "That's true. I did."
"Then stand by it."
"You know better than that, don't you?"
He shook his head. "No....So long as you were part of the outer world, you had to seek to destroy me. And of the two courses now open to you, one will lead you to the day when you will find yourself forced to deliver me to my enemies."
Later, at Dagny’s final dinner in the valley, the theme is stressed again:
"I forced my way here," Dagny said quietly, "and I was to bear responsibility for the consequences. I'm bearing it."Her reward was to see Galt smile: the smile was like a military decoration bestowed upon her.
Later, when Galt and Dagny are together in the train tunnel, Galt again explains to Dagny that she will have to bear the consequences of the conviction that it is right for her to cooperate with the outside world:

"And you're free to change your course, but so long as you follow it, you're not free to escape its logic".
That is exactly the message that Dr. Peikoff gave to Western Civilization in The Ominous Parallels: you are free to change your course, but you are not free to escape the logic of your philosophical premises. Galt applied the point to individual lives; Dr. Peikoff applies the same point to the history of an entire civilization.

The point is even more devastatingly true when applied to history than when applied to individuals.

For example, consider the case of Victor Hugo. Hugo’s background Christian premises affected his work and soul negatively. Despite his novel’s romanticism and grandeur, they always ended in tragedy; and Hugo’s sense of life, however grand-scale and heroic, never fully rose to the level of the ancient Greek’s or Ayn Rand’s man-worship. Hugo’s negative philosophical premises did not destroy him, but they did keep him from reaching the exalted pinnacle he was born to rise to.

Those same mistaken philosophical premises had consequences far more devastating for Western Civilization generally, than they had for this one individual artist. In the century and a quarter since Hugo, the corrupt philosophy of the West has not merely dimmed or diminished the West’s artistic greatness, it has destroyed it. No one writes novels like Hugo’s anymore. All great literature – all great art – has now been completely wiped out of our culture.

Galt’s view that convictions lead to necessary consequences, even when the individual does not like or desire those consequences, is a true and potent perspective when applied to individual lives; Peikoff’s view that convictions lead to necessary consequences, regardless of whether those consequences do or do not clash with a particular county’s sense of life, is a true and even more potent perspective when applied to an entire civilization. The greater time span involved causes the greater effect.

Dr. Peikoff’s approach to history is philosophical but not psychological: in showing that philosophy is the ultimate arbiter of history, he abstracted away from the psychology of the various actors involved. His approach was to show that when these philosophical ideas are held, these consequences follow, and that little or no discussion of the psychologies involved is required to fully grasp this historical process.

Dr. Peikoff thoroughly discussed the ideas of Plato, Aristotle, and Kant, but not the psychologies behind those ideas. He did not argue that Aristotle was a better man than Plato. He did not argue that Aristotle’s ideas were an expression of psychological health; he did not argue that Plato’s ideas were a rationalization of psychological vice. Dr. Peikoff’s focus was not on why these philosophers created the philosophies they did, but what those philosophies are, and what concrete consequences follow in human action. In order to explain history, Dr. Peikoff did not need to look from philosophy backward to its cause, but forward to its effects.

Nor was it necessary to burden his thesis with a discussion of the psychologies of the various implementers of the philosopher’s ideas. Dr. Peikoff’s point was to show that the Nazis were expressing in action the concrete consequences of Kant’s nihilist philosophy. Hitler was crazy; Goebbels was crazier; Speer was a better man than either. But, from the point of view of understanding history, so what? They were all Nazis; they all had absorbed Kant’s view of existence and were very busy spelling out and enacting its logical implications.

A discussion of Hitler’s, Goebble’s, Speer’s psychologies might be very illuminating. There is a place for entire books to be written on the subject. But Dr. Peikoff showed that there is no place for such a discussion in a book that intends to demonstrate the fundamental cause of history, because that cause is philosophical, not psychological.

Ayn Rand wrote regarding concept formation that “the act of isolation involved is a process of abstraction: i.e., a selective mental focus that takes out (her emphasis) or separates a certain aspect of reality from all others.” That is exactly what The Ominous Parallels does: it isolates or takes out the relationship between philosophy and history, detangling it from human psychology, allowing us to perceive it clearly for the first time in its full, pure measure, without obstruction or distraction. If Dr. Peikoff had included long discussions of human psychology in his book, they would have undoubtedly been very interesting, and taught us a great deal, but the books overall mission and luminous clarity would have been lost, and the science of history would have remained un-revolutionized.

In regard to this process of abstraction, of isolating and separating a certain aspect of reality from all others, the relationship between history and psychology is similar to the relationship between physics and biology.

The scope of Newton’s physics is startlingly vast and panoramic, but it does not attempt to explain the phenomenon of life. Newton did not try to explain all of reality, only one cardinal aspect of it: the basic nature of matter and energy. That act of abstraction – of taking out – one aspect of a complex total was an indispensable element of the success of the theory.

The scope of Dr. Peikoff’s theory of history is startlingly vast and panoramic, but it does not attempt to explain the phenomenon of human psychology. Peikoff did not try to explain all of human nature, only one cardinal aspect of it: the relationship between philosophy and history. That act of abstraction – of taking out – one aspect of a complex total was an indispensable element of the success of the theory.

Dr. Peikoff’s exact approach to isolating and underscoring the relationship between philsophy history was his own contribution. Ayn Rand’s perspective on philosophy and culture was more typically the moral-psychological approach.

For example, when asked in the Playboy interview what are the basic principles at the beginning of her philosophy, she replied:
“It begins with the axiom that existence exists, which means that an objective reality exists independent of any perceiver or of the perceiver's emotions, feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.”
Observe that she could just as easily have gone from the statement of the axiom of existence to a statement of such crucial axioms as identity or causality, but she didn't; instead she chose to immediately focus on the moral-psychological implications of the basic axiom, not its technical corollaries.

In her essay on cultural history For the New Intellectual, Ayn Rand again took a very moral-psychological approach to the history of philosophy. She wrote about the history of philosophy primarily from the perspective of the psychological motives of the philosophers involved, characterizing them in terms of Attila and the Witch Doctor. Her first concern was to focus on philosophy backward to its cause in human psychology, rather than focusing on philosophy forward to its effect on human history.

In a letter to Isabel Patterson, discussing the anti-worldly philosophers of the past, such as Plato, she wrote:
“I don’t care what the damn fools said – I want to know what made them say it.”
Dr. Peikoff’s approach to the history of philosophy and the philosophy of history in The Ominous Parallels is uniquely his own. He learned the basic idea from Ayn Rand, but he saw history with his own eyes, from his own perspective, and he wrote the book in his own voice. The shift in perspective may seem subtle at first, but is actually a vital ingredient to the success of the book. It is as though Dr. Peikoff moved the light source one foot in just the right direction to illuminate a trove of previously unseen intellectual treasure.

I believe that this is why, at the close of the Ayn Rand Letter, Ayn Rand had this to say about the then-forthcoming The Ominous Parallels:
“Oh boy! I thought I knew the subject, but that book has taught me something about the influence of philosophy on a country’s culture.”
In my opinion, The Ominous Parallels is Dr. Peikoff’s best major work. I think it is the book that he was born to write. Seeing the essence of a large mass of complex, detailed, seemingly kaleidoscopic concretes is his strongest suite as a thinker. That made him perfectly positioned to make a strong contribution to the field of the philosophy of history. He did exactly that, knocking the cover off the ball in the process, and so much so, that he created a striking, indispensable horizontal addition to the Objectivist world view.

4. Peikoff perspective on man-worship

Dr. Peikoff’s lecture Why Ancient Greece is my Favorite Civilization, given on an educational voyage to Greece, was his personal favorite of all his lectures. Mine too. I think it is the finest, most important lecture ever given by a follower of Ayn Rand.

In this lecture he identified the essence of Ayn Rand’s soul as also the essence of the soul of an entire culture. That essence is man-worship.

Man-worship means more than optimism or the benevolent universe premise. Man-worship means more than larger-than-life characters or happy endings. It means more than earning one’s own way, or respecting the rights of others, or making friends with others, or the idea that man the hero is better than man the dependent huddling in groups.

Worship means an “exclusive admiration or veneration; total, unbreached admiration”. Man-worship means total, exclusive, unbreached admiration for Man. Man-worship is the Greeks passion for the naked human form, it is what they felt for their idealized statues, it is what Gail Wynand felt for Howard Roark, it is what Ayn Rand felt for John Galt, it is what Leonard Peikoff felt for Ayn Rand.

Man-worship does not mean merely that Man is clean, good, and free to choose, it means that Man is the highest possible, the highest to be reached for or desired. It means that Man is sacred and his happiness on earth is not just possible, but exalted. Man-worship is the upward glance of intense admiration for Man’s glory in living. “Numberless are the world’s wonders, but none as wonderful as Man,” wrote Sophocles.

The Greeks were not repressed in any area of life. Like Howard Roark, the Greeks had no sense of faith at all. Theirs was not a culture built on an alleged need to choose between reason and emotion. They were passionately rational. Unlike the Enlightenment, they understood that reason is not a “cool” or “cold” faculty, but a passionately hot one. They did not shun “enthusiasm”, they expected it, embraced it, and lived it. Aristotle’s passionate, burning intellect is a prime example and symbol.

The Greeks were exclusively concerned with this world. The Greeks did not see Man’s life, soul, or body as trapped in a fallen, unreal world that he should strive to escape. Their “religion” was nothing like subsequent religions. They still had a vestigial concept of an after-life, but they saw it not as not as better than this life, but as less. For the Greeks, the after-life was shadowy, half-real, wan, pale, bloodless, unimportant. “Rather would I be the lowest ditch digger on Earth than King of the entire afterworld,” said Achilles.

The Greeks worshiped only things of this world. The Greeks did not worship their gods. Homer presented the gods always in a spirit of sarcasm; they were not presented as heroes or even as serious men and women, but as vain and petty children, spoiled with power. They were not intended to be worshipped or emulated, and the Greeks didn’t do either. By contrast, Homer did intend that Achilles and Odysseus should be worshipped and emulated, and the Greeks did both.

The Greeks had no yearning for an “infinite” afterworld or God. They were the only civilization in history that explicitly equated the perfect with the limited. They regarded the limited as the knowable, the real, and therefore the good, and the infinite as the unknowable, the unreal, and therefore the evil. When they first heard of the Judean longing for an infinite God they immediately recognized it for the outrageous depravity that it is. Ayn Rand expressed the essence of this view of the limited, in architectural terms, in The Fountainhead, in one of her most Greek-like pieces of writing, describing Roark’s Temple of the Human Spirit:
The Temple was to be a small building of gray limestone. It’s lines were horizontal, not the lines reaching to heaven, but the lines of the earth. It seemed to spread over the ground like arms outstretched at shoulder-height, palms down, in great, silent acceptance. It did not cling to the soil and it did not crouch under the sky. It seemed to lift the earth, and its few vertical shafts pulled the sky down. It was scaled to human height in such a manner that it did not dwarf man, but stood as a setting that made his figure the only absolute, the gauge of perfection by which all dimensions were to be judged. When a man entered this temple, he would feel space molded around him, for him, as if it had waited for his entrance, to be completed….At the end of the room…stood a statue of a naked human body.
Toohey told the truth, if not in the way he wanted it taken, when he wrote: “The statue of a nude female in a place where men come be uplifted speaks for itself.” The most striking, eloquent difference between Christian culture and Greek culture is the Greeks passion for the naked human form. Adam and Eve saw that they were naked, and they were ashamed; the Greeks saw that they were naked, and they were proud. The Greek athletic games were held in the nude, and so was Greek education. The goal of Greek education was to instill a passionate admiration of beauty of mind and body. For centuries, the only two school masters of the Greeks were the Greek sun and Homer.

Naked athletics and education would be impossible in a Christian culture. We are so far from home that it would be impossible for us to live like Greeks, and it takes effort for us even to understand them. And this is precisely the reason for our downfall: the West never fully rediscovered what the Greeks were, what they knew, or what they felt. Even when Western culture thought it was rebelling against Christianity, it was still trapped in the Christian web, still seeing the world with Christian eyes.

The Enlightenment was the most secular period since Ancient Greece. Its high points were Newton and mathematical physics, and Locke’s politics and the birth of the United States. It was a time of great scientists and great statesmen, but it is not a time especially known for its artistic greatness. When we think of great art we properly think of the Renaissance and Humanism, or the nineteenth century and Romanticism, not the Enlightenment. This is because the Enlightenment was a repressed culture. It was pro-reason, but it did not have a passion for reason; it believed in a benevolent universe, but it did not worship Man.

When Western art did flourish again, in the form of nineteenth century Romanticism, the re-emergence of passion was seen as a rebellion against reason, as though reason and emotion were at two ends of a pendulum. Only the Greeks (and Ayn Rand) have been able to achieve and sustain a passion for reason. No other cultural period in the West has understood how to do so.

Looking back, we see the Enlightenment and the nineteenth century as positive cultural periods, much better than today. And it is true that they were much better than today’s culture. But the Greeks would see these period’s mere optimism, belief in progress, belief in the future perfectibility of man as a valley of depression. The Greeks were not waiting on education to perfect man, they were not waiting on more evolution, for them life is a ten now, man is a ten now, we are not waiting on anything, we are living it.

Man-worship is to happiness as happiness is to life: if a life has happiness, the life is complete; if a happiness has man-worship, the happiness is complete. Man-worship is the highest form of spiritual objectivity. Without this objectivity, the soul is out of alignment with reality, and happiness cannot sustain itself.

The entire cause of America’s decline is contained in the fact that the Statue of Liberty is wearing clothes. America’s was never fully Greek enough to be passionately proud of her worldliness, therefore that worldliness had to fade.

The above is my interpretive summary of the essence of the theme of Dr. Peikoff’s Why Ancient Greece is My Favorite Civilization lecture (with a few additional supportive points and formulations sprinkled in). Since I first heard that lecture I have been very interested in the Greeks and have studied them extensively; everything I have learned supports Dr. Peikoff’s viewpoint. And while I have read some very insightful writings on the Greeks, none of the scholars I have read come close to the depth of perceptiveness of that Dr. Peikoff offers.

I believe that no classical scholar – even the best of them – has fully understood the value of ancient Greek civilization because the Greeks can only be fully appreciated from an Objectivist perspective. To attempt to understand the Greeks without knowing Ayn Rand’s art and philosophy would be like trying to understand the physical world without knowing Newton’s mathematical physics: one would necessarily fail unless one a) absorbed the master’s work or b) discovered independently what the master knew.

Dr. Peikoff could never have understood the Greeks without what he learned from Ayn Rand, but this understanding is his own unique perspective. He did not get it from her; it is a new insight that he made after she was gone. It is not stated in any of Dr. Peikoff’s earlier works (e.g., not in The Ominous Parallels or Objectivism: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand), nor is it stated in any of Ayn Rand’s works.

Ayn Rand never explicitly made the point that the nineteenth century culture and the American sense of life were not fully recovered. That was not her typical perspective. Although the sense of life she presented in her art was much more exalted than the American sense of life, even at its nineteenth century best, her explicit thought was usually not so much to improve the American sense of life, but to preserve it (e.g., her Don’t Let It Go essay). Her typical perspective was not how much the nineteenth century had failed to recover from the ancient Greeks, but how much had been lost from the nineteenth century to the present. For example, from the introduction to the Romantic Manifesto:
It has been said and written by many commentators that the atmosphere of the Western world before World War I is incommunicable to those who have not lived in that period

As a child, I saw a glimpse of the pre-World War I world, the last afterglow of the most radiant cultural atmosphere in human history. When one has glimpsed that kind of culture, one is unable to be satisfied with anything less.
Later in that introduction, she wrote:

The course of mankind’s progress is not a straight, automatic line, but a tortuous struggle, with long detours or relapses…Mankind moves forward by the grace of those human bridges who are able to grasp and transmit, across years or centuries, the achievements men had reached… Thomas Aquinas is one illustrious example: he was a bridge between Aristotle and the Renaissance…
…with no presumptuous comparison of stature intended, I am a bridge of that kind between the esthetic achievements of the nineteenth century and the minds that choose to discover them [in today’s culture].
That Ayn Rand was a bridge between today’s culture and the radiant, Romantic benevolence of nineteenth century art is very true and very important. But Dr. Peikoff’s unique point is that she is much more than even that: Ayn Rand is a bridge across a much greater spiritual gulf, across a much greater time-span, to a value even more important than nineteenth century art: she is a bridge between today’s world and Ancient Greek man-worship. She is a bridge to what the nineteenth century was able to achieve and a bridge to what the nineteenth century was not able to achieve.

The human soul aches for the latter even more than it does for the former. I believe this is why Dr. Peikoff’s lecture is so heartfelt. Perhaps this is why he did not conceive this lecture until after Ayn Rand was gone, and so deeply missed. Dr. Peikoff traveled to Greece in order to connect with “the closest that I can get to the spirit that I saw for three decades in the person of Ayn Rand”.

Speaking personally, I can only say that this lecture changed my life. I have had two huge, life-altering intellectual-spiritual events in my life: the discovery of Ayn Rand’s art and philosophy in the first place and this lecture. The reason for this is that man-worship is the seal of the prophets, the all-encompassing summation of life, the final concept whose grasp fully washes the entire Judeo-Christian stain from one’s soul. I never fully understood Ayn Rand, what she was saying, the Ancient Greeks, human nature, myself, or what I am doing on this planet until this lecture caused the scales to drop from my eyes. Ayn Rand made the issue crystal clear in her art, but it is so radical a conception of man and life that I needed this lecture to fully get it. It’s as though I needed two points – Ayn Rand and the Ancient Greeks – to see the line.

It would have really been something amazing had Ayn Rand been in the audience the day of this lecture. She certainly would not have learned all that I learned – she already knew it and lived it – but even she would have felt a new light shining on her own spiritual essence and her place in human history. I think she would have been like Dagny at Rearden’s trial: she would have looked perfectly normal, except that her eyes would have seemed to have become too large for her face.

If she had lived to see them, I think that Ayn Rand would have had a similar attitude towards all four of Leonard Peikoff’s horizontal additions. It would have to be this way, because Dr. Peikoff added fresh, new insights to the world view that she carved out. And insights not into minor, peripheral, or transient issues, but into critical issues at the vital center: integration, induction, history, man-worship. It is not too much to say that were Ayn Rand alive today, she, too, would be Leonard Peikoff’s student.

If that is not repaying a teacher well, what would be?


  1. "The entire cause of America’s decline is contained in the fact that the Statue of Liberty is wearing clothes."

    This was a great article in honor of a great man. Thank you so much for writing it!

  2. Your encomium would have more force if Dr. Peikoff's contributions were more widely available in print, as opposed to the audio format he has preferred. Study of this sort of thought is best accomplished through slow, systematic reading. Walter Ong's Orality and Literacy is a good reference here.

  3. Great article. Thank you.

  4. Thanks. That's not only a wonderful tribute to Peikoff, but an excellent suggestion for one's own path of learning as well.

  5. Wow! What an amazing article, especially your observations on man-worship and the Greeks! thank you so much for writing this.

    Aquinas Heard

  6. Wow! My husband and I found your post on HBL this morning and have read everything you have written on your blog. It is very impressive. Thank you!

    We look forward to more.