In the lengthy introductory essay of For the New Intellectual, Rand argues that America and Western civilization are bankrupt, and that the cause of the bankruptcy is the failure of philosophy: specifically, the failure of philosophers and intellectuals to define and advocate a philosophy of reason.
In the subsequent selections, culled from her novels, Rand presents the outline of her philosophy of reason, which she calls Objectivism. These excerpts cover major topics in philosophy — from Objectivism’s basic axioms to its new theory of free will to its radical ethics of rational egoism to its moral-philosophic case for laissez-faire capitalism.
For the New Intellectual contains some of Rand’s most important passages on other philosophers, including Aristotle, Plato, Hume, Kant, Hegel and Nietzsche. Many of its selections also develop Rand’s unprecedented critique of altruism — the notion that our basic moral obligation is to live for others.