. . . I should point out that there are professional philosophers who take Rand's work seriously. See The Ayn Rand Society. Some years ago I read something by Douglas Rasmussen, one of the members of the society, and I found it quite good.
I suppose one could compare Rand with Nietzsche on the score of professional respectability. There are philosophers who have utter contempt for Nietzsche and deny that he is a philosopher at all. In the early '90s I had a conversation with the late Gregory Fitch, then chairman of the Arizona State University Philosophy Department. I asked him if anyone in his department had an interest in Nietzsche. He snorted that that no one there was interested in "that junk." But not all analytic philosophers are narrow Fitch-style bigots. There are other analytic philosophers who find Nietzsche's ideas worthy of study and reconstruction.
Like Nietzsche, Rand is untrained in philosophy, rants and raves, argues in an abominably slovenly fashion when she argues at all, is supremely confident of her own towering significance, is muddled and idiosyncratic -- Existence exists! -- , expresses contempt for her opponents, all the while psychologizing them and making little attempt to understand their actual positions. And like Nietzsche, she is immensely attractive to adolescents of all ages. Still, there are ideas there worth discussing, if only to show how one can go wrong. Same with Nietzsche: he goes wrong in very interesting ways.
Recall what got me started on this current Rand jag. It was 'Ocham's' question whether Rand counts as a professional or an amateur. I have been making a case that she and Peikoff are amateurs. (This is consistent with their ideas being worth discussing.) But it is no surprise to me that amateurs fail to appreciate the merits of my case. More to come.