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Zum Gedenken an Andrea Rich

Zum Gedenken an Andrea Rich

August 7, 2018

Ayn Rand was not the only great “mother” of the modern liberty philosophy. Isabel Patterson and Rose Wilder Lane have also been recognized for their intellectual contributions.  But ideas don’t enact themselves, and other extraordinary women have been essential architects of the movement itself, especially one who deserves to take a place among that pantheon: the late Andrea Millen Rich.

At the age of 79, Andrea died last week at her home in Philadelphia after a long battle with lung cancer.

For nearly half a century, she had a profound influence on the growth of the libertarian movement, and on the countless individuals she befriended, mentored and supported. I was honored to be among them. She consistently went out of her way to help so many, including myself, bring out our best.

Andrea was actively involved with the Libertarian Party from its inception. She was president of Laissez-Faire Books for almost 25 years. She hired the brilliant polymath Roy Childs to edit the Laissez-Faire catalog, which became the monthly journal of the freedom movement. The LF locations in New York City and San Francisco were gathering places for freedom-lovers; I never missed a chance to visit when I was in town. And that’s only to mention a few of her many projects.

There are others who can speak more fully to Andrea’s achievements. I can only share a few memories of my experience with her as a microcosm of her larger impact.

In the fall of 1988, I was invited to speak at the Laissez-Faire Supper Club, a regular gathering that Andrea held in lower Manhattan. I asked whether I could speak on why the defense of freedom must rely on core values that Objectivism promotes, and her answer was an emphatic “Yes!” So I accepted. And in the open spirit Andrea promoted, a great discussion ensued.

But the talk had consequences I couldn’t have imagined, exposing rigidities in the philosophical community of Objectivists, followers of the philosophy founded by Ayn Rand. Speaking to libertarians was an unpardonable sin in the eyes of orthodox Objectivists. Denounced for the talk,  I broke from the Objectivist establishment and founded what is now The Atlas Society.

I had known and worked with Andrea before then. In 1986 I published The Evidence of the Senses, my work in academic epistemology. It was based on my doctoral thesis in philosophy and was addressed mainly to academic philosophers in the field. In that respect, as David Hume said of an early work, “it fell stillborn from the press”—no philosophers were interested.

But Andrea was. Because the book laid out an Objectivist view, she (and Roy Childs) embraced it, as she did other Objectivist works. She made a deal with the publisher for a paperback edition, guaranteeing sales. She promoted it; I autographed God-knows-how many copies; and they sold. I never expected this response from the libertarian community to a work so far removed from politics. That was one of the reasons I never looked back on an academic career. In a real sense, Andrea helped me find my path in my career.

I have vivid memories of attending the wonderful gatherings Andrea and her husband Howie had at their place in New York’s Greenwich Village. They were connectors, bringing together people from their extensive networks, creating a community of thinkers and activists. It was truly the libertarian salon. Among many other connections, I met John Stossel at their table. I have always felt Andrea was instrumental in making it safe for him to transition into his current role as a prominent and effective exponent of our ideals. Among many other consequences, John spoke at several Atlas Society events, and I appeared in one of his ABC documentaries (“Greed”). Andrea later managed the “Stossel in the Classroom” project, which packaged “Greed” and other videos for classroom use and have been viewed by millions of students.

Political activism is serious business, and Andrea was serious about it. Her achievements reflect her commitment, skill, and acumen. But my favorite memory of her and Howie, in gatherings large, small, and personal, is their great humor and sense of fun. In their company, libertarians could be the happy warriors. Like Cyrano de Bergerac, we could wield the devastating sword of our logic with light-heart panache. I saw this aspect of Andrea most clearly when we went to see dance performances at the Joyce Theater in New York, especially tap-dancing. Andrea loved the crisp, clean power of the dancers and their exuberant joy.

Life can be like that. Our movement can be like that. Andrea helped make it so.

David Kelley


David Kelley

David Kelley ist der Gründer von The Atlas Society. Als professioneller Philosoph, Lehrer und Bestsellerautor ist er seit mehr als 25 Jahren ein führender Verfechter des Objektivismus.

David Kelley Ph.D
About the author:
David Kelley Ph.D

David Kelley founded The Atlas Society (TAS) in 1990 and served as Executive Director through 2016. In addition, as Chief Intellectual Officer, he was responsible for overseeing the content produced by the organization: articles, videos, talks at conferences, etc.. Retired from TAS in 2018, he remains active in TAS projects and continues to serve on the Board of Trustees.

Kelley ist ein professioneller Philosoph, Lehrer und Schriftsteller. Nachdem er 1975 an der Princeton University in Philosophie promoviert hatte, trat er in die Philosophieabteilung des Vassar College ein, wo er eine breite Palette von Kursen auf allen Ebenen unterrichtete. Er unterrichtete auch Philosophie an der Brandeis University und hielt häufig Vorträge an anderen Universitäten.

Zu Kelleys philosophischen Schriften gehören Originalwerke in den Bereichen Ethik, Erkenntnistheorie und Politik, von denen viele die objektivistischen Ideen in neuer Tiefe und in neuen Richtungen weiterentwickeln. Er ist der Autor von Die Evidenz der Sinneeiner Abhandlung zur Erkenntnistheorie; Wahrheit und Duldung im Objektivismusüber Themen in der objektivistischen Bewegung; Ungetrübter Individualismus: Die egoistische Basis des Wohlwollensund The Art of Reasoning, ein weit verbreitetes Lehrbuch für einführende Logik, das jetzt in der 5.

Kelley hat zu einer Vielzahl von politischen und kulturellen Themen Vorträge gehalten und veröffentlicht. Seine Artikel über soziale Fragen und die öffentliche Ordnung sind unter anderem in Harpers, The Sciences, Reason, Harvard Business Review, The Freeman und On Principle erschienen. In den 1980er Jahren schrieb er häufig für das Barrons Financial and Business Magazine über Themen wie Gleichberechtigung, Einwanderung, Mindestlohngesetze und Sozialversicherung.

Sein Buch A Life of One's Own: Individual Rights and the Welfare State ist eine Kritik an den moralischen Prämissen des Wohlfahrtsstaates und eine Verteidigung privater Alternativen, die die Autonomie, Verantwortung und Würde des Einzelnen bewahren. Sein Auftritt in John Stossels ABC/TV-Sondersendung "Greed" im Jahr 1998 löste eine landesweite Debatte über die Ethik des Kapitalismus aus.

Er ist ein international anerkannter Experte für Objektivismus und hat zahlreiche Vorträge über Ayn Rand, ihre Ideen und ihre Werke gehalten. Er war Berater bei der Verfilmung von Atlas Shruggedund Herausgeber von Atlas Shrugged: Der Roman, die Filme, die Philosophie.


Hauptwerk (ausgewählt):

"Concepts and Natures: A Commentary on The Realist Turn (by Douglas B. Rasmussen and Douglas J. Den Uyl)," Reason Papers 42, no. 1, (Sommer 2021); Diese Rezension eines kürzlich erschienenen Buches enthält einen tiefen Einblick in die Ontologie und Epistemologie von Konzepten.

Die Grundlagen des Wissens. Sechs Vorlesungen über die objektivistische Erkenntnistheorie.

"Das Primat der Existenz" und "Die Erkenntnistheorie der Wahrnehmung", The Jefferson School, San Diego, Juli 1985

"Universalien und Induktion", zwei Vorträge auf GKRH-Konferenzen, Dallas und Ann Arbor, März 1989

"Skeptizismus", York University, Toronto, 1987

"Die Natur des freien Willens", zwei Vorträge am Portland Institute, Oktober 1986

"The Party of Modernity", Cato Policy Report, Mai/Juni 2003; und Navigator, November 2003; ein viel zitierter Artikel über die kulturellen Unterschiede zwischen vormodernen, modernen (aufklärerischen) und postmodernen Ansichten.

"I Don't Have To"(IOS Journal, Band 6, Nummer 1, April 1996) und "I Can and I Will"(The New Individualist, Herbst/Winter 2011); begleitende Beiträge zur Verwirklichung der Kontrolle, die wir als Individuen über unser Leben haben.

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