Litkicks Book Knocks Mitt Romney Off Top 21

YES! Why Ayn Rand Is Wrong (and Why It Matters), the first Litkicks Kindle book, is generating some heat, climbing up the Amazon Political/Ideologies chart to number 21, which I am thrilled to note is two higher than Mitt Romney’s No Apology, clearly a less exciting work.

Thanks to my swell friends who tweeted me up and Facebook’d me up, and to Conversational Reading, Literary Saloon, Lightning Rod’s The Poet’s Eye and the great Maverick Philosopher for posting blog notices. (If you blogged about the book and I missed it, please send me the link).

One person (who I do not know) has already reviewed the book on Amazon. This is a lukewarm but well-written and thoughtful review, and I’m sorry the reviewer feels I “didn’t do my research” because I didn’t know that Ayn Rand had addressed the validity of psychological egoism. I know Ayn Rand has addressed this, but I believe she’s done so only superficially, and not satisfactorily. Indeed, that is the entire substance of my book: a critique of Ayn Rand’s ethics on the basis of her reliance on the (weak) scientific doctrine of pscyhological egoism. However, I do appreciate the fact that this Amazon reviewer named “poem2poes” took the time to read and understand my book, and I am happy to have survived my first Amazon bad review. (May the next one please be better.)

I have much else to talk about, but I’m very busy, and only have time for four newsworthy links today:

1. Jonathan Franzen’s New Yorker essay about a trek to Robinson Crusoe’s island and a search for understanding about his friend David Foster Wallace’s suicide is outstanding. So is the artwork that accompanies the piece.

2. Nicholson Baker, my favorite pacifist novelist, covers a current Lafayette Park Anti-war Protest near the White House in Washington DC. I’m also psyched for Baker’s upcoming novel, allegedly out soon.

3. Check out Glaring Through Oblivion, a new book of poetry by System of a Down singer Serj Tankian, lavishly illustrated by Roger Kupelian.

4. I’m participating in some cool, strange thing called the Raven Poetry Circle Wednesday night (April 20) in Greenwich Village, New York City — come down if you can! This is inspired by an article Jason Boog once wrote about an impoverished depression-era poetry circle of the same name that once haunted these streets. I’ll be reading a poem (or something), and so will Ed Champion, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Susie DeFord, Lisa Dierback, Guy LeCharles Gonzales, Elizabeth Keenan, Andrew Kessler and Jason Boog.

8 Responses

  1. Levi, you’re off to a great
    Levi, you’re off to a great start! And that thoughtful but less than glowing review will surely be offset soon by very positive reviews, which your writing deserves. I love to sense the optimism and excitement in your tone lately as well, as you’re embarking on the new kindle publishing project and preparing upcoming litkicks pieces.

  2. Philosophy aside, Iwish you
    Philosophy aside, Iwish you would let us know exactly how you went about making and distributing/marketing your e-book. Seems like it was really fast! Can you fill us in on the details, Levi? I’m a neophyte when it comes to ebooks. Thanks.

  3. Steve, and anybody else who
    Steve, and anybody else who wants to create a Kindle book, I have three words to say: Kindle Direct Publishing. Google it. Works like a charm, and it’s free.

    I am also looking into Smashwords and some other choices for non-Kindle formats, coming soon.

  4. I think you could also make
    I think you could also make more use of other philosophers like Emmanuel Levinas to counter Ayn Rands arguments. Also, Ignacio Ellacuria offers a reflection about the self in society that (without none of the selfishness) explains the same that Ayn Rands tries to explain about individual realization in society completely surpassing her completely.

    From Wikipedia:ía

    “Ellacuría’s philosophy takes as a starting point Xavier Zubiri’s (1898–1983) critique of Western philosophy. For Zubiri, ever since Parmenides, Western thought separated sensing from intelligence. This error led to two results. The first one was what Zubiri called “the logification of intelligence” and the second one was what he called “the entification of reality”.

    The “logification of intelligence” implied that intellect was reduced to logos. This view led philosophers to believe that what they called “Being” was the cause of reality, and this in turn, explained the confusion of metaphysics with ontology.

    Logification of intelligence excludes sensual, not so logical, functions of intelligence. Although Zubiri recognized descriptive logos and reason as important components of intelligence, he pointed out that intelligence did not reduce itself to them. For Zubiri intelligence was a unity with the modalities of sensual apprehension, logos and reason.

    The logification of intelligence led to the perception of reality as “Being” in a zone in space and time (as in Heidegger’s Dasein) of identifiable entities with an essence, outside the human brain. This is what Zubiri called the “entification of reality”. This perception sees reality as a particular form of “Being”. Thereby, for Zubiri, “Being” had been “substantivised” by Western philosophy.

    For Zubiri, reality is paramount to Being, which is not a noun, but a verb. Being is a particular aspect of reality and not the other way around. Metaphysics studies reality and ontology studies being. Human beings’ way of accessing reality is intelligence, not a logified one, but a “sentient intelligence” that is itself a part of reality.

    The senses, logic, reason, intuition and imagination are one and the same faculty, because each of these things determine one another. This faculty differences human beings from other species and has been achieved through evolution. Having a sentient intelligence implies having a conscience and the possibility to imagine new realities. These formulations are in themselves real by postulation. Realities by postulation can also be realized in other forms, because sentient intelligence has the ability to recognise the processual and structural character of reality. Therefore human beings are able to influence it, and create and transcend the historical boundaries that have been reached.

    For Zubiri there is no need for a realist/anti-realist discussion on if there is or not a reality that is external and independent to human beings, or if reality is a bulk of internal illusions to human beings. It is both, but not in the sense critical realism pretends (where human beings are seen as a reality that can be separated from an objective outer reality). For Zubiri, human beings are imbedded in reality and cannot exist without it. They need air, food, water and other beings. The “outer” and objective world must also come inside human beings for them to continue existing. Sentient intelligence should be able to make sense of this existence in a way that allows human beings to realise their capabilities in the world.

    In this line of thinking, Ellacuría said human reality is unavoidably personal, social and historical. Biology and society are elements of history, which means that they are always in movement. But this should not be confused with historical materialism that says human beings are passive instruments of the forces of history. Human beings certainly inherit constraints constructed in the past but they always have the possibility to transcend them because of their sentient intelligence. Praxis is the name Ellacuría gives to reflected human action aimed at changing reality. Unlike other animals that can only respond mechanically to stimuli from outside, through sentient intelligence and praxis, human beings have to “realise” their existence. Individuals in dialectic interaction with society, have to make out what sort of Ego to have by using their sentient intelligence and this implies transcending inherited constraints.

    This means that progress in reality happens through a combination of physical, biological and “praxical” factors. Through praxis, human beings are able to realise a wider range of possibilities for action. In other words, one praxis can lead to a fuller praxis. When this is so, praxis can be said to gradually increase liberty, if liberty is defined as greater possibilities for action.

    According to Ellacuría, the existence of people that are marginalized from society implies that history and practice have not delivered a wider range of possibilities for realisation for every human being in the world. This situation has prevented these excluded people to realise their existence as human beings. Therefore, it is a situation that stands away from the fullness of humanity and the fullness of reality. But this situation can be changed.

    According to Ellacuría, before the advent of humanity, the unfolding of reality took place only by physical and biological forces. But in our era, forces exclusive to human beings (praxis) can also help unfold reality. Since human beings have the possibility to reflect, it is philosophy’s duty to exercise this ability to reflect in order to change reality and allow greater possibilities for individual realisation.

    This way of thinking finds its parallels in the 1990s in Martha Nussbaum’s definition of human development as the increase in human capabilities for action (see Martha C. Nussbaum, Women and Human Development, Cambridge University Press, 2000) and Amartya Sen’s notion of development as freedom (see Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom, Oxford University Press, 1999)”.

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What We're Up To ...

Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!