In 1951, when he was 17-years-old, Leonard Peikoff made a trip to California that changed the course of his life.
Through a friend who knew her, he was invited to the home of Ayn Rand, the novelist and Objectivist philosopher. Thus began a friendship and professional association that was to last until her death on March 6, 1982.
Peikoff is Rand’s legal heir. “I had read The Fountainhead as an adolescent at a time when I was searching for values,” Peikoff says. “The novel had a hero I could admire. He was a guide as to how to live, a beacon in a world that seemed to be collapsing. Once I met Ayn, heard her speak, felt the force of her conviction and grasped the logic of her ideas, I knew I had found a direction.”
Peikoff returned to his native Canada where he finished his pre-med program at the University of Manitoba. He traveled to New York every six months to visit Rand, who had moved back to the East Coast. In 1953, he decided to transfer to New York University and get a degree in philosophy. He continued to study there under Sidney Hook until 1964 when he obtained his doctorate. Through this period, his friendship with Ayn Rand deepened.
“I had the extraordinary good fortune to read Atlas Shrugged in manuscript as it was being written, and to ask the author all the questions I wished about her ideas,” Peikoff says. “My knowledge of philosophy was primitive at the time, but she was tremendously gifted at explaining her ideas. She was also patient and recommended many books for me to read. We talked philosophy late into the night on countless occasions. It was, for me, an invaluable education.”
Like several other bright young men who were part of the Rand inner circle (among them Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board), Peikoff was attracted to Objectivism because of its view “of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.” From 1957 until 1973, Peikoff taught philosophy at Hunter College, Long Island University, New York University, the University of Denver and the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.
After that, Peikoff worked full-time on The Ominous Parallels and gave lectures across the country. He gave courses on Ayn Rand’s philosophy regularly in New York City, which were taped and played to groups in some 100 cities in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. In addition, he spoke frequently before investment and financial conferences on the philosophic basis of capitalism. Dr. Peikoff, who is a naturalized American citizen, was born in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1933. His father was a surgeon and his mother, before marriage, was a band leader in Western Canada. He has been a contributor to Barron’s and an associate editor, with Ayn Rand, of The Objectivist (1968-71) and The Ayn Rand Letter (1971-76). He is the author of Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (Dutton, 1991), the definitive statement of Objectivism.
Since 2004, Peikoff has devoted himself to writing The DIM Hypothesis: Why the Lights of the West Are Going Out. The book identifies three different methods of integration, the process by which people interrelate concrete data to make a connected whole. He shows the different consequences of these three in the West’s past – and for America’s future. Anticipated to be Dr. Peikoff’s masterpiece, The DIM Hypothesis was released on September 4, 2012.
For further biographical information, an interview profile with Dr. Peikoff written by his daughter, Kira Peikoff, is now available. (July 15, 2006)