In the clip, from the Year 1 seminar on Objectivism, Onkar Ghate discusses what it means to be an Objectivist—whether it’s important to think of oneself as such, and what it takes to be an active-minded student of any philosophy.
The Objectivist Academic Center (OAC) is ARI’s premier intellectual training program, providing elite instruction in Objectivism and its applications, in how to communicate ideas, and—above all—in how to think philosophically.
“Ayn Rand’s heroic vision of man as a rational, noble, productive being has inspired millions of people. It can be difficult, though, to grasp just how her ideas, universal and abstract as they are, can serve as a practical and specific guide to everyday life.
“Keeping It Real: Bringing Ideas Down to Earth offers invaluable advice on how to apply broad philosophical principles to the real-world decisions we have to make every day. In this book, Leonard Peikoff, Ayn Rand’s longtime friend and heir, provides a wealth of practical counsel on personal relationships, child-rearing, career problems, politics, sex, and many other topics. His answers to hundreds of questions—taken from the first five years of his former podcast—highlight the importance of ensuring that the principles we claim to live by do not float in our minds as useless wordplay, but rather guide us in action toward our personal, selfish happiness here on earth.
“Keeping It Real also contains numerous anecdotes and insights pertaining to Ayn Rand herself, making it invaluable for those who want to learn more about her from today’s most knowledgeable source.”
Writes philosopher Greg Salmieri on the differences between Ayn Rand and Aristotle at Check Your Premises blog:
Rand is always focused on the individual human being, who has distinctive ideas and personal values that set him apart from others in his community and that may put him in conflict with them. She presents her moral philosophy in explicit contrast with moral codes that call for the individual to sacrifice his ideas and values to the demands of others. And, likewise, her political philosophy is formulated in explicit opposition to political philosophies that justify the sacrifice of individuals by the state. In this respect Rand has more in common with 19th Century individualists like Max Stirner and Friedrich Nietzsche than she does with Aristotle. This individualism is also characteristic of the Romantic movement in literature, which Rand saw herself as a part of. All of these individualistic thinkers extol emotions (and/or will) as the seat of individuality, whereas Rand identifies a person first and foremost with his reason. In this she agrees with Aristotle, but her view of reason includes elements that were absent or under-emphasized in Aristotle.
Whereas Aristotle’s discussions of reason’s role in life are impersonal in character, Rand held that an individual’s reasoning is the source of the personal values (e.g. his love of his job or romantic partner) that make his life meaningful to him. This is because, in her view, reason is an attribute of the individual and it does not function automatically. Each individual must initiate and sustain reasoning by choice, and must learn how to discover knowledge and to choose values that are based on facts and integrate into a self-sustaining life. To function in this manner by choice is to be objectivein Rand’s sense of this term. I elaborated on this point in Chapter 6 of A Companion to Ayn Rand:
Only insofar as an individual chooses values in this way does he have a self‐interest at all. Values chosen subjectively, without regard for the requirements of human survival, will not form into a self‐sustaining whole; so rather than a coherent self‐interest that he can act to advance, the individual will have a motley assortment of conflicting desires. But neither can self-interest be intrinsic: there is an inexhaustible variety of possible combinations of values and activities that could cohere into a self‐sustaining human life, and there is nothing other than an individual’s choosing and pursuing one of these possibilities for himself that can make this particular life constitute his self‐interest and ultimate goal.
I have said this before in the sense that everything we get from nature comes in an inconvenient form: metals must be extracted from their ores; grain must be milled or threshed and the wheat separated from its chaff; crude oil must be refined into its constituent weights.
But the more philosophical point is that all resources are the product of the human mind. A “natural” resource is only a resource at all in the context of a particular technology. It is only a resource to someone who can look at it and understand its use and value. And it is only a resource to someone who has the technology and the capital to extract it from its environment and put it to that use.
You can see this in the stories of the early development of industries.
Before the oil industry, there were known places where oily sludge or tar would seep out of the ground; people might skim some of it off a pond to light a torch, but no one was drilling it and no one considered it “black gold”.
The Marquette Iron Range near Lake Superior, which disrupted compass readings and attracted lightning, was known to local Chippewa tribes only as the home of a thunder god, until miners arrived to prospect and extract the ore.
The Chinchas Islands off the coast of Peru, covered in seagull droppings, were for a time the most valuable real estate in the world, owing to the value of guano as fertilizer—but before that discovery I can only imagine that sailors literally steered clear of them, owing to the overpowering stench.
But you can see the principle perhaps most starkly in the stories of valuable resources that were once considered waste products of industrial processes.
Crawford then goes on to list and elaborate on resources that were once waste products: natural gas, portland cement and cast iron.
“A Little Candle” is a documentary about VanDamme Academy, a tiny school in Southern California with big ideas about education. If you are interested in learning more, go to www.alittlecandlemovie.com.
The Soho Forum hosted a debate about the Israeli – Palestinian conflict and whether the Palestinian movement has a right to exist. Israeli author Elan Journo, the Ayn Rand Institute’s research director, debated U.S. Army Strategist Major Danny Sjursen at the Subculture Theater in New York City.
The debate vividly brought out an important contrast between my opponent’s approach to the issue and mine. In my own remarks, I highlighted my book’s distinctive approach to the conflict: a secular, individualist moral framework. I take the principle of individual freedom as a standard for evaluating the adversaries. Central to my view is that we must evaluate the nature of the Palestinian movement. The evidence shows that this movement is hostile to freedom; its main factions strive to establish militant authoritarian and theocratic regimes. To resolve the conflict, then, we must start by taking seriously this movement’s ideological aims. My opponent, by contrast, challenged the premise that there’s any coherence to the “Palestinian movement,” denied the importance of its ideological outlook, and urged a return to solutions that have demonstrably made matters worse.
This is the tenth episode in a series looking at Objectivism’s approach to Happiness. Philosopher Gregory Salmieri and psychologist Gena Gorlin join Dave Rubin to discuss the psychological requirements of happiness.