I posted a brief review of Harry Binswanger's new book on Amazon.Com.
Harry Binswanger is a philosopher who was associated with Ayn Rand in
her later life. This is his long awaited book on epistemology written
from the perspective of Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. It covers
most of the major topics in epistemology, including some that Rand
didn't comment on, such as propositions.
Generally speaking, I
enjoyed this book. Although Binswanger is a rather dogmatic
Objectivist, the tone is surprisingly mild. More than the typical
Objectivist he tries to understand the ideas with which he disagrees and
present them in a fair manner.
The heart of the book is an
exposition of Rand's theory of concept formation, which her acolytes
consider her greatest achievement. She developed an elaborate theory of
"measurement omission" in her Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology.
I'm not persuaded that all concepts are formed on the basis of
measurement omission (what measurements are omitted when we form the
concept "justice"?), but Binswanger makes a decent effort.
Unfortunately, he presents no evidence that the Objectivist theory of
concepts is true. I'd like to see the psychological studies that adults
(much less children) form concepts the way Rand and Binswanger claim.
Indeed I suspect that we often form concepts without having two or more
examples and a "foil." If I'm wandering in Borneo and see an animal
that no one has seen before, do I need to see another one to
On the negative side, Binswanger appears to
believe the urban legend that people in the Middle Ages thought the
world was flat. I was surprised that he doesn't mention David Kelley's
The Evidence of the Senses, an important Objectivist work on