In recent years students of Objectivism have been offered numerous lists of readings which contained material that would to a greater or lesser extent substantiate or lend support to the theoretical findings of the philosophy of Objectivism. Most of this material has been within the realms of politics, economics, and psychology. Except for a few books on Aristotle and within the field of rationalist philosophy, philosophy has not received the attention of those who recommend readings to students of Objectivism.
The present list should make up for the obvious lack. As with most books and articles recommended to Objectivists, the present list contains material which must be read (very) critically. Some of the readings are, as it were, right down the line of certain features of Objectivist philosophy. I will try to indicate as succinctly as possible the particular worth of each entry on my list.
Cavell, Stanley, Must We Mean What We Say (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1969). Cavell is an "interpreter" of Ludwig Wittgenstein and a potentially controversial one at that. But his individual contribution to philosophy bears attention. Particularly important in this "book of essays" are the articles "Knowing and Acknowledging," "Music Discomposed," "A Matter of Meaning It," and "The Availability of Wittgenstein's Later Philosophy." Special attention should be paid to Cavell's observations about skepticism. Although some Objectivists have called Wittgenstein a nominalist and Miss Rand makes uncomplimentary reference to him in her Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, it is my view that there is far more in common between Wittgenstein's and Miss Rand's thought than yet known
Wittgenstein, Ludwig, On Certainty (New York: J.&J. Harper, 1968). This is Wittgenstein's latest posthumously published collection of notes. It is devoted to a virtual mental dramatization of the conflict between Humean empiricism, a la G.E. Moore, and Wittgenstein's own, what I want to call the "contextualist" theory of knowledge. Wittgenstein goes through the agony of confronting empiricism with the kind of questions that the empiricists cannot treat lightly and finds them, ultimately, unanswerable from within empiricism's own central tenets.
Wild, John, The Challenge of Existentialism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1955). Wild gives a compassionate but rigorously critical exposition and investigation of Existentialism. His frame of reference is the Aristotelian realism and his respect for human reason keeps him at all times on guard against the explicit and implicit irrationalist tendencies of Existentialists. For those who are interested in working themselves through the maze of pats philosophies and thereby grasp the full importance of Objectivism, this work will be of value.
Weiss, Paul, "Relativity in Logic" The Monist (1928). This brief article should help students in their attempt to understand just what early-twentieth-century logical investigations have and have not shown about the nature of logic. In a similar vain, Weiss' "On Alternative Logics" in Vol. xlii of The Philosophical Review will be of immense help.
Zinkernagel, Paul, "On the General Problem of Objective Reality" Mind (? past 1953). This is a discussion by a contemporary philosopher of one of the central problems of philosophy and one of the main features of Objectivism. Students will, I think, find the author's discussion surprisingly complementary to the tenets of Objectivism.
Benardette, José A., "Sense-Perception and the A Priori" Mind (April, 1969). Benardette is addressing himself to the traditional problem of rationalism versus empiricism in the special area of the status of "knowledge via sense-perception." A very thoughtful and productive essay, once again almost in full support of Objectivism's implications for the problem at hand.
"Is There a Problem about Logical Possibility?" Mind (1968). Here, too, Benardette advances views which bear out, among other things, Leonard Peikoff's observation in his discussion of the analytic/synthetic distinction. My own pieces on this issue were written before I learned of Benardette's views; see "On Conceivability and Logical Possibility" Kinesis (1969), and "Another Look at 'Logical Possibility'" The Personalist (1970).
Matson, Wallace I., "Against Induction and Empiricism" Aristotelian Society Proceedings Supplement (1962). Matson argues that those who have attempted to offer an account of induction in terms of Humean empiricism are doomed to failure and offers good reasons in support of the earlier, Aristotelian conception of scientific reasoning.
Collins, Arthur W., "Philosophical Imagination" American Philosophical Quarterly (January, 1967). Collins is critical of certain uses of the idea of imagination as, e.g., in some philosophers' writings where the locution is frequently encountered "let's imagine that such and such/actually impossible/situation obtains…etc." His observations will aid one in handling such familiar approaches to philosophical argumentation.
Madden, Edward H., "A Third View of Causality" The Review of Metaphysics (September, 1969). Madden puts forth a pre-Humean view of causality but with the force of argumentation which has gained much from the philosophical developments of the last centuries.
Pailthorp, Charles "Knowledge Justified, True Belief" (ibid.). The author defends a contextual conception of knowledge which is, I think, very close to the view defended by Rand and Piekoff in their lectures and writings on epistemology.
Jordan, James N., "Determinism's Dilemma" (ibid.). This is the best article about determinism I have ever read. For students who have difficulty in understanding the full implications of Branden's discussion of determinism in The Objectivist Newsletter or are puzzled by certain of its features, Jordan's analysis will be of immense help.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "List of Readings".