Calif.—It is with great sorrow that the Anthem Foundation for Objectivist
Scholarship and the Ayn Rand Institute announce the death of American
philosopher Allan Stanley Gotthelf, in Philadelphia, on August 30, 2013, after
an extended battle with cancer. He was 70 years old. He is survived by the
Love family—Ronald and Cassandra Love and their sons Zach and Ian Barber, all
of whom Gotthelf regarded as family; also by his many friends and students, and
by his sister Joan Gotthelf Price and her husband Robert.
is best known for his scholarship on Aristotle and on Ayn Rand, with whom
Gotthelf was friends. Born in 1942, he grew up in Brooklyn, New York. After
completing bachelors and masters degrees in mathematics, he earned his PhD in
philosophy at Columbia University in 1975.
the time of his death, he was Anthem Foundation Distinguished
Fellow for Research and Teaching in Philosophy at Rutgers University.
He was also emeritus professor of philosophy at The College of New Jersey and a
Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University. Between 2003 and 2012, he was
a visiting professor of the history and philosophy of science at the University
of Pittsburgh, where he held an Anthem Fellowship for the Study of Objectivism.
Charles (Oxford University) speaks of Gotthelf’s “decisive role in the
renaissance of scholarly and philosophical interest in Aristotle’s biological
writings,” and Alan Code (Stanford University) comments that “no scholar has
had a deeper and more lasting impact on the scholarly understanding of
Aristotle’s biological corpus than Allan Gotthelf.”
made this impact through a series of path-breaking essays now collected in Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific
Method in Aristotle’s Biology (Oxford University Press, 2012) and through
the many conferences and workshops he organized. These events formed the basis
for two books: Philosophical Issues in
Aristotle’s Biology (Cambridge University Press, 1987), which Gotthelf
co-edited with James G. Lennox (University of Pittsburgh), and Aristotle on Nature and Living Things
(Mathesis, 1985). The latter book, which Gotthelf edited, was in honor of his
friend and mentor David Balme (University of London), and after Balme’s death
in 1989, Gotthelf shepherded several of his projects to publication.
the course of his 47-year career, Gotthelf was the recipient of many honors for
his work on Aristotle. In 2004 his “contributions to the study of classical
philosophy and science” were celebrated at a conference at the University of
Pittsburgh, which led to the volume: Being,
Nature, and Life in Aristotle: Essays in Honor of Allan Gotthelf (Cambridge
University Press, 2010), edited by Lennox and Robert Bolton (Rutgers
introduction to Ayn Rand’s ideas occurred in 1961 when he first read Atlas Shrugged. He would later remark on
what he learned from this first reading: “Atlas
Shrugged said that the mind I valued in myself was not only a private
source of pleasure but was also the means to everything I wanted out of life. I
felt about the heroes of the novel that this
is the way they felt about themselves and the way they lived and loved their
lives was the way I wanted to feel about myself and live and love my life. This was the happiness I was looking
met Ayn Rand in 1962, in connection with lectures on her philosophy that he
attended. Rand took a genuine interest in philosophy students, and over the
next fifteen years, he had the opportunity for long philosophical discussions
with her. He was an active participant in Rand’s famous 1969–71 workshops on Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology.
1964 until his death, Gotthelf spoke on Objectivism countless times at
colleges, universities, and for private groups throughout the United States,
Canada, Bermuda, Europe, and Japan. As his own career progressed, Gotthelf
often mentored young Objectivist intellectuals who were pursuing academic
careers in philosophy.
was a founding member of the Ayn Rand Society, a
group affiliated with the American Philosophical Association, and he held the
Society’s highest office from 1990 until his death. From April of 2013, he
shared that office with Gregory Salmieri (Boston University), his former
student and frequent collaborator. Gotthelf co-edited (with Lennox) and
contributed essays to the first two volumes of the Society’s ongoing Philosophical Studies series, published
by the University of Pittsburgh Press. He is the author of On Ayn Rand (Wadsworth, 2000) and is co-editor (with Salmieri) of Ayn Rand: A Companion to Her Works and
Thought (Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming).
Gotthelf’s work to bring Objectivism to the attention of the academic world,
Yaron Brook, president of the Anthem Foundation and executive director of the
Ayn Rand Institute, said, “In the natural course of pursuing, and achieving,
his values, Allan became a great ambassador for Ayn Rand’s ideas. Because of
his knowledge, reputation, and benevolent persistence over the years,
Objectivist ideas have begun to see a long-deserved, serious consideration in
the academic world. His death is a profound loss. His legacy will inspire
Aristotelians and Objectivists alike for generations to come.”
philosopher Harry Binswanger, a lifelong friend of Gotthelf, said: “Allan saw
his love of Aristotle and of Ayn Rand as of a piece. He was right, because
Aristotle and Rand do advocate the same fundamentals: the commitment to reason
and to living life fully, realizing one’s highest potential as man.” This was
an estimate shared by Rand, who said of Aristotle that “If there is a
philosophical Atlas who carries the whole of Western civilization on his shoulders,
it is Aristotle.”
continued, “Allan was a thinker, a philosopher. He not only taught philosophy,
wrote philosophy, and read philosophy, he lived and breathed philosophy. His
two heroes were Ayn Rand and Aristotle, and he made important, lasting
contributions to the scholarship on each.”
all of us at the Anthem Foundation and the Ayn Rand Institute, some of whom had
the honor of calling Allan a friend, thank you, Allan, for your wisdom, your
knowledge, your devotion to a philosophy of reason and life, and your own
shining example of a life well lived. You are deeply missed.
A memorial service
will be held Saturday, September 7, 10 a.m., at the St. Regis Hotel in
Manhattan. Burial will be at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York, at 3 p.m.
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The Ayn Rand Institute has speakers available for
interviews. Please contact Kurt Kramer at firstname.lastname@example.org or call
Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship is a 501(c)(3) organization
dedicated to supporting academic scholarship on Objectivism, the philosophy of
Ayn Rand. For more information, visit www.anthemfoundation.org.
The Ayn Rand
Institute is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting the philosophy of
Ayn Rand, author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.” For more
information on Objectivism and Ayn Rand, visit www.aynrand.org.