SCIABARRA RESPONDS TO THE CRITICS
RESPONSE TO THE SALMIERI AND MILGRAM DISCUSSIONS FROM COMPANION TO AYN RAND
The following note was published as a further response to criticisms made by Shoshana Milgram and Gregory Salmieri in Companion of Ayn Rand. It was published as note 2 (pages 39-40) in Chapter One ("Toward a Dialectical Liberarianism") of The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom, edited by Roger E. Bissell, Chris Matthew Sciabarra, and Edward W. Younkins (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2019).
There is evidence in the Branden Biographical Interviews that Rand did use the term "dialectical" in a nonpejorative sense as a way of describing her approach---in contrast to the extreme rationalism that she identified in the thought of architect Frank Lloyd Wright (Interview #13). Contrary to my own transcription of that interview, it appears, however, that Rand's use of the word reflected correspondence with Martin Lean, a professor of philosophy, at Brooklyn College. (This is according to Gregory Salmieri, who revealed this in personal correspondence with me.) Here was my initial transcription of the relevant section of the interview where Rand contrasted her approach with that of Wright:
his approach to ideas was: the Truth with a capital T, and you know what that means. It's not quite my approach. In other words, he would not be what we call "dialectical." ... In other words, he would not be a precise definer or intellectual philosophical conversationalist; he would be the emotional philosophical genius who would talk about the meaning of Life, with a capital L. .... (Branden Biographical Interview #13, 26 February 1961; transcription and emphasis mine)
Having examined a transcript from the Ayn Rand Archives, Salmieri tells me that Rand actually states: "In other words, he would not be what Lean would call 'dialectical.'" Regardless, it is clear that Rand, at the very least, referenced the word from Lean who saw it as an apt description of her approach in that specific context. See Sciabarra 2017, 338-39 (some of the material in the current section being derived from this essay.) Similarly, there is evidence that she did identify her politics as "libertarian" in the Old Right sense (Burns 2009, 48-49), even though she came to reject libertarianism in later years, especially in the aftermath of her encounters with the Circle Bastiat, led by Murray Rothbard (182-84). Also see Heller 2009, 295-303.
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