You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or log in to view the full course.

Political Philosophy – Ayn Rand

2. Life and Works

This is the course trailer. Please create an account or log in to view this lecture.

  • Description
  • Cite

About this Lecture


In this module, we look more closely at Ayn Rand’s life and works, focusing in particular on: (i) her birth in Imperial Russia in 1905 as Alisa Rosenbaum; (ii) the ways in which the Russian Revolution directly impacted upon her life and the lives of her family; (iii) her move to America in 1926 and the success she enjoyed there: first as a screenwriter, later as an author, and towards the latter part of her life more generally as a lecturer and public figure; (iv) the enduring power of her influence, encapsulated perhaps by her visit to the Oval Office in 1974.


In this course, Dr Neil Cocks (University of Reading) explores the life, works, and core ideas of Ayn Rand. In the first module, we are introduced to the controversial figure of Ayn Rand and consider her influence on contemporary political life. In the second module, we look more closely at her life and works, situating the latter within the former and illuminating, where possible, her political outlook with biographical detail. In the third module we discuss Rand’s core ideas, including her anti-statism, her celebration of ‘selfishness’, and her notion of life as a ‘value’. In the fourth module, we compare Rand to Hayek, putting Rand in context with a broader school of conservative thinkers and focusing in particular on where her ideas converge and deviate from theirs. In the fifth module, we explore Rand’s problematic approach to racism and ask what this can tell us about wider issues with her philosophical approach. Then, in the sixth and final module, we conclude with an introduction to some of the strange alliances and rifts that Randian philosophy produces.


Dr Neil Cocks has published numerous articles and book chapters on subjects as diverse as children's literature, art theory, Dickens, queer theory, education theory, Objectivism, and the problematic claims of evolutionary psychology. He is currently researching the work of Lacan, Copjec and Zizek. At Reading University, he has taught and convened IFP, all levels of BA, and offers two modules on the MA in Children's Literature, the oldest course of its type in the world. In 2020 he published 'Questioning Ayn Rand: subjectivity, political economy, and the arts'.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Cocks, N. (2021, November 26). Political Philosophy – Ayn Rand - Life and Works [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Cocks, Neil. "Political Philosophy – Ayn Rand – Life and Works." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 26 Nov 2021,

Image Credits

Get instant access to over 4,000 lectures