Axioms and their Validation: Aristotle and Ayn Rand
Jun 01, 2013
On the 'About the Author' page at the end of Atlas Shrugged, after acknowledging her philosophical debt to Aristotle, Ayn Rand wrote: "You will find my tribute to him in the titles of the three parts of ATLAS SHRUGGED." Those titles allude to the Laws of Non-Contradiction, Excluded Middle and Identity, at least the first two of which Aristotle identifies as axioms in Metaphysics Γ. But in her own metaphysics Rand identifies three axiomatic concepts, Existence, Identity and Consciousness, only one of which is directly related to the traditional Aristotelian axioms. In this lecture, I defend a certain interpretation of Aristotle's defense of metaphysical axioms and explore the relationship of his defense of those axioms to Rand's defense of her axiomatic concepts, drawing primarily on the second edition of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. Understanding her choice of concepts rather than propositions, and of those three concepts in particular, and comparing her discussion of the cognitive role of axiomatic concepts with Aristotle's defense of metaphysical axioms in his Metaphysics is of critical importance for understanding Ayn Rand's place in the history of the Aristotelian tradition.