There have been many alleged spokespersons for Objectivism—Mike Berliner, Harry Binswanger, John Ridpath, Peter Schwartz, Yaron Brook—and we’re now told of a “Chief Philosophy Officer,” Onkar Ghate. There’s something we should not forget.
The philosopher of Objectivism, the Chief Philosophy Officer of her philosophy, is Ayn Rand (although Ms. Rand would never accept such a title). Objectivism is Rand’s work—it was not a team effort. She obviously worked with many other people, but the ideas of Objectivism were the work of her mind and pen.
This is so obvious that it shouldn’t need stating. However, there are many pretenders, narcissists, who use Objectivism to feel self-important. They use Objectivism to make themselves feel right and others wrong. They create a false view of, and a detrimental reputation for, Ayn Rand and Objectivism.
Leonard Peikoff is the master teacher of Rand’s philosophy. Just as Aristotle was called “the philosopher” by commentators, Leonard Peikoff is the teacher of Objectivism. I wish there were other teachers close to his clarity, his scholarship, his emphasis, his humor. Unfortunately, I don’t know of anyone near as good a teacher as Leonard. Much of Leonard’s clarity and conviction undoubtedly was influenced by his 30-year close relationship with Ms. Rand—thousands of hours of discussion (from which he took careful notes), and the Q&As, and the collaboration undoubtedly enabled him to speak with such clarity and conviction.
Leonard spent many years writing books and giving lectures and courses. He did not insert himself or his own ideas or use Rand’s work to promote himself. He gave appropriate credit to Ayn Rand. He taught with certainty and passion based on his deep understanding of Objectivism, not for any kind of aggrandizement.
Almost every prominent Objectivist I know was profoundly influenced by Leonard. Some have said (including myself): “I don’t think I would be an Objectivist had it not been for Leonard’s courses.”
Nascent intellectuals who are studying through my Prometheus Foundation will go through Leonard’s courses and lectures, beginning with his brilliant course on The History of Philosophy, and then The Philosophy of Objectivism. Subsequently, they will read his masterwork, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.
My Prometheus Foundation supports many people, and my primary focus is on Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff. I believe that this is a matter of integrity. Any pretense to advance one’s own positions and ideas and insert them into the philosophy of Objectivism violates integrity.
My Prometheus Foundation Mission is: Promote Ayn Rand and Objectivism, and only that.
Feel free to share this with other Objectivists, and I look forward to your feedback.
Carl B. Barney
December 18, 2023