Mayhew, Robert 1960-
Mayhew, Robert 1960-
Born September 17, 1960; married; children: two. Education: Georgetown University, Ph.D.
Office—Seton Hall University, 400 South Orange Ave., South Orange, NJ 07079. E-mail—[email protected]
Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ, professor of philosophy.
(Editor) Ayn Rand's Marginalia: Her Critical Comments on the Writings of over 20 Authors, Second Renaissance Books (New Milford, CT), 1995.
(Editor and translator) Aristophanes, Assembly of Women, Prometheus Books (Amherst, NY), 1997.
Aristotle's Criticism of Plato's "Republic," Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 1997.
The Female in Aristotle's Biology: Reason or Rationalization, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2004.
(Editor) Essays on Ayn Rand's "We the Living," Lexington Books (Lanham, MD), 2004.
(Editor) Essays on Ayn Rand's "Anthem," Lexington Books (Lanham, MD), 2005.
Ayn Rand and "Song of Russia": Communism and Anti-Communism in 1940s Hollywood, Scarecrow Press (Lanham, MD), 2005.
Ayn Rand Answers: The Best of Her Q & A, New American Library (New York, NY), 2005.
(Editor) Essays on Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead," Lexington Books (Lanham, MD), 2007.
(Translator and commentary) Plato, Laws X, Clarendon Press (New York, NY), 2007.
Robert Mayhew was born September 17, 1960. He earned his doctoral degree from Georgetown University and went on to join the faculty at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, where he is a professor in the philosophy department. He teaches a range of classes, including introductory philosophy courses, a two-course series on the "Great Books," and less-traditional courses pertaining to subjects such as philosophy in film, or the philosophy of love and sex. Mayhew divides his time between teaching and his own personal research. He has written and edited a number of books, and his primary interests include the works of Aristotle and the writings and philosophy of Ayn Rand. He has lectured extensively at Objectivist conferences, and is involved with the Ayn Rand Institute, periodically participating in the various academic programs held there.
Aristotle's Criticism of Plato's "Republic" makes reference to the early chapters in Aristotle's Politics, Part B, in which he addresses the claims made by Plato in The Republic regarding how a city may truly be unified. Modern critics often criticize Aristotle's point of view, finding him unfair in his analysis of Plato's theories. Mayhew, however, stands with Aristotle, and in his book attempts to prove that Aristotle was correct in his harsh stance against Plato. It was Plato's argument that, if a city is to be truly unified, each of the individuals dwelling in that city must be unified as well, in a type of communism. Aristotle, however, claimed this was a false assertion. According to Aristotle, a city is based upon a unified constitution that guides the people, and which all of the citizens of that city respect, while each person remains a separate and unique individual unto himself, as people will never all join together to form a single, like organism. However, the constitution provides a unifying hold over the residents of a city, yet is still malleable in that the constitution itself may be traded for a new one, and if the people should all adhere to this new constitution, then that becomes the unifying force in lieu of the old one. Unity continues as long as a binder remains. Pascal Massie, in a contribution for the Review of Metaphysics, commented that "Mayhew insists that autarkeia is not solipsism; it rests on the ‘ability to acquire all that is needed for life,’ which is to say that a self-sufficient city remains open to other communities."
In The Female in Aristotle's Biology: Reason or Rationalization, Mayhew addresses the accusation that Aristotle was misogynistic when he wrote about the physical differences between men and women, or indeed between the males and females in several nonhuman species as well. Aristotle's biological writings contain many errors of science, none of which are surprising given the extent to which most of these subjects required more advanced machinery and technology to accurately determine and analyze. However, in some cases it seems that Aristotle's assertions regarding women are overly harsh, and could have been corrected through simple observation. For instance, the claim that women have less teeth than men indicates a failure to properly investigate the situation. Of course, the number of teeth in an adult's mouth can vary, and particularly during Aristotle's time, when dental hygiene and medical care were minimal, it was likely common for people to be missing teeth. However, this would have been true of both men and women, and a simple survey of an assortment of mouths would have given sufficient evidence of this. Other claims were more difficult, though not impossible to determine, such as Aristotle's statement that the female brain is smaller than the male brain. As scientific knowledge has expanded, and fair treatment of women has become more common, it has been suggested that Aristotle based his comments on personal biases alone. Mayhew sets out to disprove this theory, offering careful and thorough analysis of various works by Aristotle in which he wrote about entomology, embryology, anatomy, and what was referred to as biological "psychology" in relation to the female. For instance, he counters the claim that Aristotle was illogical in his declaration regarding the disparate number of teeth in the mouths of women versus men. Thornton Lockwood, in a review for the Bryn Mawr Classical Review Online, noted his assertion that "there is some evidence to suggest that Aristotle's claim about teeth is actually a testament to his careful observation rather than evidence of apriorism in his science. Although the evidence is speculative, there is some proof that the diets of ancient Mediterranean women were deficient in vitamin C and D, deficiencies which resulted in diseases such as scurvy, osteomalacia, and osteoporosis, especially in pregnant and lactating women." While Thornton agreed that this, along with several other examples Mayhew offers succeed in proving his statement, he objected that "Mayhew doggedly sticks to the ‘woman problem’ in only Aristotle's biological writings, and self-consciously refuses to extend his analysis into Aristotle's remarks about women in his ethical and political writings."
Mayhew served as the editor of Essays on Ayn Rand's "We the Living," as well as writing the preface to the work and two of the essays contained within the volume. The collection is divided into two parts, "The History of We The Living" and "We the Living as Literature and Philosophy." The book stands out in that it makes clear Rand's own opinions regarding We the Living, which ran contrary to her normal assertion that plot should always be the main focus of fictional works. Mayhew's collection reveals that Rand felt the background should play a more vital role in this particular instance, a fact that many of the essays mention. Several contributors stressed that the background of Rand's work itself was true and held nearly no elements of fiction. The book includes early drafts of the work, notes on who served as models for some of Rand's characters, and a collection of reviews, history of the original publication, and information on its adaptation for other media formats, providing readers with a thorough grounding in Rand's effort along with the essays written by other writers. Such contributions include an essay on the relationship between We the Living and the ideology of the Russian Revolution, and one—a contribution by Mayhew—that compares the 1936 and 1959 versions of the text. Fred Seddon, in a review for the Objectivist Living Web site, remarked of the volume: "In general the book is a terrific read for anyone interested in Rand. It provides another way of ‘chewing’ WTL and provides so much nitty-gritty information that a good subtitle for the book could be ‘Everything You Always Wanted to Know about WTL But Were Too Busy to Research Yourself.’"
Mayhew also edited Essays on Ayn Rand's "Anthem," a collection that looks at what some consider one of the most important books every written about the concept of utopia. Written before The Fountainhead, Anthem only began to sell after that novel's prodigious success. Mayhew has collected fourteen essays that discuss the work, and celebrate the ideas that Rand set forth in its pages. Stephen Cox, writing for Utopian Studies, noted that all of the contributors were writers associated with the Ayn Rand Institute, remarking: "No attempt is made to submit Rand's novel to the kind of critical analysis that might, conceivably, discover important imperfections or even immaturities in it." He concluded that "for the most part, the writing in Essays on Ayn Rand's ‘Anthem’ is far below the standard of the original, but there is still enough in the collection to provoke healthy curiosity about Rand's superbly individual art."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Journal of Philology, fall, 2005, Marguerite Deslauriers, review of The Female in Aristotle's Biology: Reason or Rationalization, p. 458.
American Literature, March, 2006, review of Essays on Ayn Rand's "Anthem," p. 201.
Ancient Philosophy, fall, 1998, David Keyt, review of Aristotle's Criticism of Plato's "Republic," p. 486.
Booklist, February 15, 2001, Donna Seaman, review of The Art of Nonfiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers, p. 1110.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, April, 1998, review of Aristotle's Criticism of Plato's "Republic," p. 1386; January, 2005, M.A. Ralkowski, review of The Female in Aristotle's Biology, p. 866; June, 2005, M.D. Whitlatch, review of Ayn Rand and "Song of Russia": Communism and Anti-Communism in 1940s Hollywood, p. 1828.
Classical Review, April, 2007, Laurence M.V. Totelin, review of The Female in Aristotle's Biology, p. 49.
Isis, December, 2005, R.J. Hankinson, review of The Female in Aristotle's Biology, p. 647.
Journal of the History of Philosophy, January, 2005, Tony Preus, review of The Female in Aristotle's Biology, p. 109.
Philosophical Review, July, 2000, Joyce L. Jenkins, review of Aristotle's Criticism of Plato's "Republic," p. 425.
Reference & Research Book News, August, 2004, review of Essays on Ayn Rand's "We the Living," p. 287; May, 2005, review of Ayn Rand and "Song of Russia"; August, 2005, review of Essays on Ayn Rand's "Anthem," p. 273; February, 2007, review of Essays on Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead."
Review of Metaphysics, March, 1999, Pascal Massie, review of Aristotle's Criticism of Plato's "Republic," p. 709; March, 2006, Beverly J.B. Whelton, review of The Female in Aristotle's Biology, p. 659.
Utopian Studies, spring, 2006, Stephen Cox, review of Essays on Ayn Rand's "Anthem," p. 392.
Ayn Rand Institute,http://www.aynrand.org/ (March 18, 2008), "The New Intellectuals: Q & A with Robert Mayhew."
Bryn Mawr Classical Review Online,http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/ (September 19, 2004), Thornton Lockwood, review of The Female in Aristotle's Biology.
Capitalism Magazine,http://www.capmag.com/ (March 18, 2008), author profile.
Objectivist Living,http://www.objectivistliving.com/ (April 29, 2006), Fred Seddon, review of Essays on Ayn Rand's "We the Living."
Penguin Group Web site,http://us.penguingroup.com/ (March 18, 2008), "Ayn Rand Answers: The Best of Her Q & A."
Seton Hall University Web site,http://shu.edu/ (March 18, 2008), faculty profile.