Saturday, March 05, 2011

Objectivist Roundup & Rationally Selfish Webcast

By Diana Hsieh

As part of Modern Paleo's weekend schedule of blogging on Objectivism on Saturdays and free market politics on Sundays, I like to post some fresh links from around the web, plus periodically sketch my standard advice on sources, for anyone interested in learning more about Objectivism.

Objectivism is Ayn Rand's philosophy of this-worldly reason, egoism, and capitalism. Ayn Rand is best known as the author of the epic novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. As she explained:

My philosophy, in essence, is the concept 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. ("About the Author," Atlas Shrugged)
So where can you find some Objectivism-related goodies on the web?

The Objectivist Roundup is a weekly blog carnival for Objectivists. Contributors must be Objectivists, but posts on any topic are welcome, including posts on food and health.

Reepicheep's Coracle hosted this week's Objectivist Roundup. If you're interested in seeing what Objectivists are writing and doing, go take a look!

My own Rationally Selfish Webcast -- where I answer questions on practical ethics and living well -- will be tomorrow (Sunday) morning at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET. You can submit and vote on questions, as well as watch the live webcast and join the chat, from this page: Rationally Selfish Webcast.

Here are the questions that I'll answer this week:
  • Question 1: Does a rational person feel regret over past mistakes? Clearly it is most productive to focus on the positive: What can you learn from your mistakes? Etc. Does this mean regret can be eliminated? What do you make of people who say they never have any regrets?
  • Question 2: Is forgiveness necessary? Religious connotations aside, popular psychology often tells us that we must forgive those who have hurt us, even if they are no longer in our lives. It's "healthy". Is forgiveness really necessary to emotional healing? Should I forgive, if the offending party hasn't recognized his/her fault?
  • Question 3: What's right or wrong about "heavy drinking"? A while ago, you got into a heated discussion on Facebook about the rationality of what could be described as "heavy drinking." (The CDC defines "heavy drinking" as "consuming an average of more than 2 drinks per day" for men and "consuming an average of more than 1 drink per day" for women.) What's your view of such drinking -- and why?
  • Question 4: Is it moral to make fun of others? Can mocking, or making fun of others ever be good? For instance, many people use it as a way of showing that they dislike someone without having to be direct about it.
  • Question 5: What is the best way to cut someone out of one's life? When ending a friendship with someone is one obliged to give them reasons or is a simple "I no longer want to have a friendship with you" sufficient? What if the person would not accept the reasons or maybe even be driven to revenge or depression by such an action?
  • Question 6: From Objectivist Answers: Why bother being honest, when surrounded by dishonest people? Why not lie, just a little bit to "get ahead". If the guy next to you "games the system" aren't you leaving yourself at a disadvantage? Isn't honesty and integrity, when dealing with people only important if everyone respects those virtues? Why play a game when the rules keep changing!
If you're unable to attend the live webcast, you can listen to these webcasts later as NoodleCast podcasts by subscribing in iTunes to either the enhanced M4A format or the standard MP3 format.

What about studying Objectivism in more depth?

If you want to understand Objectivism, I advise that you focus on the source -- meaning that you read Ayn Rand's own writings first and foremost. Her ideas are often wildly misrepresented, so you need to see what she advocates for yourself.

I'd recommend starting with one of her novels, particularly The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged. If you're reading or re-reading Atlas Shrugged, you might listen to my series of 20 podcasts on the epic novel: Explore Atlas Shrugged.

After that, dive into her anthologies of philosophy essays, perhaps The Virtue of Selfishness (ethics), Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (politics), The Romantic Manifesto (art), Philosophy: Who Needs It (philosophy), or Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (epistemology).

Finally, you can check out some of the better secondary sources, such as Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Peikoff and Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics by Tara Smith.

For in-depth commentary on culture and politics from an Objectivist perspective, I heartily recommend perusing The Objective Standard. It includes articles on Individual Rights and Law, Philosophy, Science and Technology, Business and Economics, Foreign Policy and War, and more. Each issue offers one article for free, but I'd definitely recommend a subscription.

My husband, Paul Hsieh (MD) of Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM), regularly publishes articles in on free market medicine in The Objective Standard.

The web site of the Ayn Rand Institute is another useful resource on Objectivism. It includes some free essays by Ayn Rand, such as The Objectivist Ethics and Man's Rights, as well as a huge library of recordings of Ayn Rand. You can also find commentary on current events by Objectivist intellectuals.

That should keep you busy!

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