Topics currently being mulled over:
(1) Abstraction as condensation (and Rand's genius in identifying/discovering this point). The centrality of measurement to cognition; differences in measurements as central to differentiation, measurement-omission as central to integration. Measurement, integration-as-abstraction, and mental condensation. The senses, concepts, and logic.
(2) Philosophy and fiction - why most fiction readers in our culture are not prepared, intellectually, for Ayn Rand's novels. (How they might be prepared for them sense-of-life-wise.) How this might relate or contrast to non-Aristotelian intellectuals' failure to grasp Objectivism (e.g., with their modern homo economicus model of interests, for example).
(3) Eudaemonism and Perfectivism - Perfectivism as a systematic working-out of the basic eudaemonist principle that one's eudaemonia (which is perfective living, which requires perfective thinking) and the happiness-as-psychological-reward involved, is the central aim of ethics and is how life's meaning is fulfilled. Rand as pioneer in ethics.
(4) Mind and force as opposites - Rand's genius in identifying/discovering the root foundation for the principle that the initiation of physical force is the basic evil in the socio-political realm, and in identifying the foundations for the principle that individuals have rights. How modern-educated readers miss this point due to modern philosophy's homo economicus (instead of eudaemonistic) model of human interests which fails to recognize the primacy of mind (and by implication the fundamental virtue of thinking) in human existence.
(5) "Pull" in politics as not based on the Marxist-Chomsky materialistic principle that dollars = power. In a representative democracy, the votes have to be delivered, and that explains why the not-especially-wealthy Bible Belt constituency exercises so much political pull. This only reinforces Ayn Rand's analyses that ideas/mind and not money/matter are more fundamental to the human condition (i.e., the materialist analysis essentially reverses cause and effect), and that what explains the psychologies of all the political actors involved are the ideas they have absorbed from their culture and from their own self-initiated efforts (or lack thereof) to focus their minds on reality. "Pull" is ultimately an effect of ideas, or ignorance and/or evasion of them, one way or another.
(6) The special appeal of Marxism to socialist intellectuals, given Marx's having a formidable-looking systematic philosophy. Put another way: Marx is distinguished by being the socialist thinker with the most impressive-looking, all-encompassing philosophical system. Given the fundamental human need for integration, and given the intimate relationship between the concepts of integration and of dialectic, Marxism best fills the psychological and intellectual needs of people who oppose capitalism. The only problem here is the package-dealing of (false) socialist ideology with the intellectual seriousness and compellingness involved (ceteris paribus) in systematic integration. Given the falsity of socialist ideology, Marxism serves as a dangerous opiate for the intellectual classes. (Marx-inspired intellectuals are under the delusion, for instance, that they have a monopoly on the concept of "dialectic" and that capitalism disregards the enlightened and magnanimous context-keeping of dialectic in favor of one-sided, plutocratic power-grabs in the Class Struggle. One thing these intellectuals are certainly not equipped to deal with is Ayn Rand's reality-based - i.e., capitalistic - alternative, and the sense of life that goes with it.) It's useful to compare this phenomenon with religion more traditionally understood, from the standpoint of the basic human conceptual-psychological need for integration (i.e., a need for proper mental habituation or automatization) and system. How that ties in with the phenomenon of political "pull" mentioned in topic (5). How that all ties in with Peikoff's DIM Hypothesis, and with properly neo-Aristotelian (non-Marxian) dialectics/integration/system.
(7) What are the presuppositions and implications of all these topics, and how do they all integrate with one another?
P.S. (8) How the kind of integrative task involved might never have been accomplished prior to the mid-1990s explosion of the internet, with its ability to aggregate information just waiting there ripe and ready to be properly, efficiently integrated. (For more on efficient integration, see back to topic (1).)
P.P.S. (9) Ayn Rand was an effing genius. (Note that she just fucking kicked ass without even having the internet at her disposal. Maybe this makes Aristotle all that more impressive? How do the non-Aristotelian intellectuals manage to miss all this? (Did the "cult-like" atmosphere nourished in NBI during the 1960s do untold damage and delay to Objectivism being taken seriously as an intellectual and cultural force, and to a proper, expedited, widespread education in Objectivism? How concrete-bound do people have to be, anyway, to equate Rand and Objectivism with the notion of a "cult" which was, at best, incidentally related to her due to the various moral and psychological failings of followers she didn't want or need? What might cause such concrete-boundedness?))
P.P.P.S. (10) Induction as essentially integration (non-contradictory assimilation of concretes into an existing unified, contextual, hierarchical cognitive whole). Induction and concept-formation. Deduction as adherence to proper rules of inference in regard to conceptual content. Processes of elimination as both inductive and deductive. The theory of measurement-omission as an answer reached through an exacting process of elimination and much testing. Induction and the Aristotelian tradition. Aristotelian dialectic as involving a process of elimination among competing theories, answers, etc. Rand's first-hand-inductive approach as involving downplaying engagement with tradition (save primarily for a hat-tip to Aristotle); advantages and perils of such an approach.
P.P.P.P.S. (11) Rand and the academy, from the standpoint of how radical a departure Rand's approach to philosophy is from that of the "academic mainstream," and when. In the 1950s there was a radical rift between Rand and the intellectual class. Since that time, Aristotle has been increasingly influential, meaning by "dialectical" necessity a move toward convergence between Rand and the academy. Given the state of academia today, with its greater Aristotelian influence, how radical a departure is Rand from today's "academic mainstream," actually? Tara Smith's Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics (2006) signifies a turning point whereby Rand is now right there in contention for mainstream supremacy. The sunny future for the Ayn Rand Society and, hence, for America and the world.
Anyone else hooked on Perfectivism yet? ;-)