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Rational Egoism in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead

In The Fountainhead, novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand fully dramatizes the moral theory of rational egoism–the theory which holds that it is each person’s responsibility to choose his goals and values by use of his independent reasoning mind; and that it is his right to pursue these goals in quest of his own selfish, personal happiness. Put another way, conscientious adherence to one’s best rational judgment is the only appropriate means by which to live a fully human life–and success, creative achievement and personal happiness are its proper goals and ends. The theme of the novel is the virtue of independence in thought and action: the crucial importance of deriving your values and standards by the exercise of your own best judgment, as opposed to blindly following the judgment of others; and then pursuing these values consistently and indefatigably, as opposed to betraying or compromising them in practice. Dr. Bernstein explores how the plot and conflict of The Fountainhead convey this theme, including a detailed, in-depth analysis of the five major characters in the story–Peter Keating, Ellsworth Toohey, Gail Wynand, Dominique Francon, and the hero Howard Roark.

Who: Andrew Bernstein, professor of philosophy and speaker for the Ayn Rand Institute
What: A talk and Q & A examining The Fountainhead and explaining Ayn Rand’s morality of rational egoism
Where: University of Maryland, Arts Building, Room 2309, College Park, MD
When: May 1, 2008, at 8 pm

Admission is FREE and open to the public.

Dr. Bernstein is a visiting professor of philosophy at Marist College; he also teaches at SUNY Purchase (which selected him Outstanding Teacher for 2004) and formerly at Pace University and at Marymount College (which selected him Outstanding Teacher for 1995). Dr. Bernstein lectures regularly at American universities and appears frequently on radio talk shows. His op-eds have been published in such newspapers as The San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Washington Times, Los Angeles Daily News and The Houston Chronicle. Dr. Bernstein is the author of three Ayn Rand titles for CliffsNotes: Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead and Anthem. He also authored Penguin’s Teacher’s Guide to “The Fountainhead,” and The Capitalist Manifesto: The Historic, Economic and Philosophic Case for Laissez-Faire.

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