December 2020

Remembering Randall R. Dipert (1951-2019)

We were saddened to learn, only recently, that our friend and colleague Randall Dipert died in June 2019. Though we had regrettably not been in touch with him for some time, Randy had played a key role in the genesis of What Art Is: The Esthetic Theory of Ayn Rand. One of the few academic philosophers who encouraged us to pursue an in-depth study of Rand's philosophy of art, he had participated in a private colloquium we held on the subject in 1993, following the four-part "Critical Introduction" we published in Aristos in 1991-92.

Randy also wrote in strong support of the book proposal we subsequently submitted to publishers, as well as giving us valuable suggestions regarding ground to cover in the book. While work was still in progress, he invited us to speak about Rand's theory to one of his classes at the U.S. Military Academy--an experience we treasure. And he ultimately provided a strong endorsement of the book, which we included on the back cover. Given our status as independent scholars without degrees in philosophy, Randy's generous interest, support, and encouragement was of incalculable value. It not only lent credibility to our work, it also buttressed our confidence and resolve to carry it through.

After What Art Is was at last published in 2000, Randy was one of ten contributors to a symposium in the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (JARS) on Rand's esthetics, inspired by the book's publication. Though highly critical of aspects of Rand's work, his essay ("The Puzzle of Music and Emotion in Rand's Aesthetics") confirmed his view that her theory of art--and our discussion of it--merited serious attention. (For a sense of the essay's content, see the preliminary response we posted online, as well as the articles we later contributed to JARS: "What 'Rand's Aesthetics' Is, and Why It Matters" (M.M.K.) and "Scholarly Engagement: When It Is Pleasurable, and When It Is Not" (L.T.).

In recent years, Randy was engaged in very different philosophic pursuits--among them, military ethics. For an overview of his wide-ranging interests and accomplishments, see the brief summary he posted on his website and the memorial published by his colleagues in the SUNY Buffalo Department of Philosophy. Like them, we mourn his loss.

--The Editors