Suppose you’re a high school senior who has never read any philosophy. You come across Ayn Rand’s non-fiction works. You start reading. Holy crap, you think, the history of Western thought is mystical, evasive misology and nonsense. Thank
GodGalt that Rand has come along to save us. The only thing keeping us from falling into the Abyss is Rand’s stunning defense of reason and rights. I’d better donate some money to the Ayn Rand Institute and save Western civilization from imploding!
But now suppose you’re a college senior majoring in philosophy. You’ve read the history of philosophy and surveyed the contemporary academic landscape. Then you come across Rand. You start reading. Holy crap, you think, she has no idea what she’s talking about. She appears to misunderstand every major debate. Her way of describing other philosophers is almost entirely wrong. (A Randian reading this might respond, “Brennan, you aren’t proving to us that she’s wrong about philosophers. Where’s your argument? Well, yeah, you’re right that I didn’t insert here all my lecture notes about the history of Western philosophy.)