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Objectivism Lost in Translation

Objectivism Lost in Translation

2 Mind
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October 19, 2015

Ayn Rand had strong views on the meaning of certain words: “selfishness,” “altruism,” “intrinsic,” and so on. So when Objectivists read non-Objectivists, they often assume that the latter are using these words as Rand did and interpret them accordingly.

However, these terms were in use in philosophy and ordinary English long before Rand appropriated them. If Objectivists want mutually beneficial transactions with the wider intellectual world in which they live, they need to understand—and be understood by—it much better. Neera Badhwar will analyze some passages from Objectivist and non-Objectivist writings with a view to retrieving what is getting lost in translation.

Neera K. Badhwar taught philosophy at the University of Oklahoma for 22 years, and is now affiliated with the Philosophy and Economics departments at George Mason University. She has published articles on ethical theory and moral psychology in Ethics, Journal of Philosophy, and other philosophy journals. Her book, Well-Being: Happiness in a Worthwhile Life, has recently been published by Oxford University Press. She has also published an article on Ayn Rand (co-authored with Roderick Long) in the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, and is the lead author of the Objectivist Studies volume Is Virtue Only a Means to Happiness?. She has been a Fellow at the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University, a Visiting Scholar at the Social Philosophy and Policy Center, Bowling Green St. Univ. (twice), the NEH Visiting Professor at SUNY, Potsdam, and a recipient of various other awards. She plans to blog on the philosophy of liberty, write children's stories, and continue to write philosophy articles.