Ayn Rand Institute Live!

Why Are New Years Resolutions So Hard To Keep? by Keith Lockitch

Every year droves of people make New Year’s resolutions, but polls suggest that four out of five people fail to keep them. One report even found that most resolutions last less than two weeks. So why are New Year’s resolutions so hard to keep? Are they just a joke and a waste of time? Are...

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Do People’s Interests Have to Conflict? by Gregory Salmieri

People are at odds with one another all the time (we have wars, personal animosities, etc.) and it is generally assumed that people’s interests conflict. We are often told that the only way to have any kind of peace is to compromise—to give up our interests in deference to other people. Ayn Rand rejects this...

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Is Artistic Preference Subjective? by Harry Binswanger

At the turn of the millennium, two different polls were held. The question was: What’s the best English-language novel of the twentieth century? One poll questioned literary experts—they picked Ulysses by James Joyce. The second poll questioned internet users—their choice was Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Is there any objective way to settle who is...

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Should You Judge Other People? by Elan Journo

If you want to be considered a caring person, you are expected to offer a “no-judgement-zone.” And you are supposed to believe that it’s an insult to be called “judgmental.” It’s recommended that you live by the biblical advice “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” but can this actually guide us in our daily life...

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Calls to “Abolish Billionaires” Are a Moral Travesty by Keith Lockitch

There’s a new campaign slogan among Democratic politicians: “Abolish Billionaires.” Nobody can honestly deserve a billion dollars, they claim, so they want to impose radical new taxes on the super-wealthy. Indeed, people are arguing that the very existence of billionaires is some kind of moral outrage. Wealthy people are being blamed today for all the...

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Do I Need a Philosophy? by Aaron Smith

Many people have at least heard of a few of history’s great philosophers. Names like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle—they ring a bell and maybe some of us have even taken a philosophy course in college or perhaps encountered books or podcasts that are espousing or offering some kind of philosophy of life—a philosophy for living. But...

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Why Be Honest? by Ben Bayer

We live in an age in which fabricated stories pulse through social media, fashionable startup companies are founded on swindles and, of course, politicians of all stripes routinely lie. Whatever happened to the idea that honesty is the best policy? Most people would recognize honesty as an obvious example of a moral virtue, but the...

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How Can One Be Fully Independent in Today’s Society? by Harry Binswanger

Independence is the theme of Ayn Rand’s great novel The Fountainhead. Howard Roark, the novel’s hero, is the epitome of independence. He speaks of the need to have a self-sufficient ego and says nothing else is as important. What is a “self-sufficient ego”? What is independence and how does one preserve one’s independence in a...

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What Makes Ayn Rand’s Philosophy Distinctive? by Onkar Ghate

Have you ever wondered what Ayn Rand’s philosophy—which she called Objectivism—is all about? Why is she such a controversial figure with millions of fans who love The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged but also with many, many critics who call her books and ideas evil? Onkar Ghate, a senior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute, discusses...

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Is There a God? by Aaron Smith

The question of whether there is or is not a God is certainly one of life’s big questions, and it’s one that almost all of us have had to grapple with at some point in our lives. Many of us were raised in a religious environment but have come to have doubts or questions about...

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Why Are Principles Important in Life? by Keith Lockitch

When we describe someone as a person of principle, it’s often meant as a compliment. We mean that the person has a solid moral compass and that his actions are grounded in time-honored rules of conduct. On the other hand, though, we sometimes view principles as being rigid and constraining, a bunch of rules that...

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Is Altruism Good? by Ben Bayer

Maybe you’ve heard of something called “effective altruism”? It’s a recent movement that encourages people to do research to figure out the best way to give away as much of their own money as possible, allegedly in order to help out as many people as possible. Now one wonders if calling it “effective altruism” implies...

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Does Success in Life Require Compromise? by Elan Journo

Compromise is widely seen as essential to success in life. To have healthy, meaningful relationships, we’re advised to find a middle-ground. In the workplace, we hear, it’s vital that we compromise. And in the words of one long-time politician, in Washington “if you want to get along, you have to go along.” At the same...

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Is Free Will an Illusion? by Onkar Ghate

Register for the next live webinar: http://courses.aynrand.org/webinars/register Is free will an illusion? Today, most people would answer yes. It might seem like you make choices and face genuine alternatives in life, it might seem like you have the power to decide what road you will travel, but this is all an illusion, it’s claimed. Your...

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Isn’t Everybody Selfish? by Gregory Salmieri

The question “Isn’t Everybody Selfish?” is often asked cynically by people who think selfishness is a bad thing and that it’s impossible to avoid. Sometimes it is said by economists who think that selfishness helps to explain human action, and sometimes the question is posed skeptically to people, e.g., Ayn Rand, who say that everyone...

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What Are Rights and Where Do They Come from? by Harry Binswanger

Join special guest Harry Binswanger for this entry in the series of Ayn Rand Institute webinars on Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism and its application to current issues. His topic is the one principle on which our very lives depend: the principle of Individual Rights. This concept—which the United States of America was based upon—has...

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Should I Go by Reason or by Faith? by Ben Bayer

Human beings desperately need guidance in life, but where should we seek this guidance? Should we seek it in what we can observe with our own five senses and what we can logically infer from that data? Or should we seek it from some higher authority, just because we feel what it tells us is...

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Is Selfishness the Root of All Evil? by Keith Lockitch

If there is one thing that almost everyone agrees on today, it’s that selfishness is bad. From day one, we’ve been told, “don’t be selfish” or “selfishness is the root of all evil.” But what if the way we think about selfishness is completely wrong? What if our conventional understanding of what it means to be selfish is...

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Should I Follow My Head or My Heart? by Aaron Smith

All of us have experienced clashes between our thinking and our feelings—between our “head” and our “heart.” The question we seem to face, in any given clash, is: Which one to follow—“head” or “heart”? On this Philosophy for Living on Earth webinar, ARI’s Aaron Smith discusses Ayn Rand’s perspective on this issue. Recorded live as part of...

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Can You Take Credit for Who You Are? by Ben Bayer

What makes you who you are? Is it nature or nurture—or a bit of both? Or does that very way of framing the question leave out something very important, namely—you? Can you take credit for who you are? If so, how? We can’t and we don’t create ourselves out of nothing. Some people are born...

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What Is Self-Esteem? How Do I Get It? by Elan Journo

Is having self-esteem a good thing? Most people will say it’s part of living a good life. And we all know someone who lives with gnawing self-doubt, someone with little or no self-esteem at all. It really holds them back. But is self-esteem something anyone can attain, or is it just for the lucky few?...

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Can There Be Good Without God? by Onkar Ghate

Whether it’s the legality of abortion, the desirability of free speech, the power of social media companies, or the appropriateness of a president’s tweets, we seem to be increasingly divided by issues of value, by what we consider right and wrong,good and evil. But whichever side we take on these and other controversies, if we’re asked to...

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Love Does Not Require Sacrifice by Keith Lockitch

Conflicts among priorities and values, big or small, come up in relationships all the time. Figuring out how to navigate them is critical to making the relationship work. If you look to any self-help or psychology website for advice on this topic, you’ll see articles with titles like: “7 things you should sacrifice for a...

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What Tribalism Looks Like Around the World by Elan Journo

Tribalism is rampant in other countries. We’ll explore some of its forms and its role in the subjugation of individuals, the opposition to human progress, and the fueling of violent conflicts.

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Tribalism vs. Free Will by Harry Binswanger

One key pillar of individualism is free will—the idea that you are not the deterministic product of your race or genes or tribal collective but have a basic form of control over your thoughts and actions. What is Ayn Rand’s theory of free will and how does it support her individualist philosophy? This video was...

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Tribalism and Family Relationships with Onkar Ghate, Yaron Brook, and Tara Smith

One area of life where it can be hard to think about what it means to be an individual is in relation to your family. Growing up and gaining your independence is a natural process, but it can sometimes be a struggle—and is harder if one holds a mistaken view about family relationships. How would...

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Individualism in an Age of Tribalism by Onkar Ghate

Perhaps the two areas of life which generate the most conflict and in which it is most important to think for oneself—and most rare are religion and morality. We’ll discuss why it’s so easy to follow the crowd here and why it’s vital to not do so. This video was recorded at AynRandCon in Atlanta,...

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Tribalism in Economics by Yaron Brook

Popular discussions of economics—with their focus on macroeconomic factors such as GDP, total unemployment, total jobs numbers, etc.—often reflect a collectivist mindset. This contributes to the America-versus-the-world tribalism inherent in today’s calls for tariffs and immigration restrictions. By contrast, the individualist approach embraces economic freedom and global trade. This video was recorded at AynRandCon in...

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Tribalism in Law by Tara Smith

Unfortunately, all three branches of our government are contributing to the tribalization of our legal system. As a result, the substance of our laws along with the laws’ administration authority are increasingly determined by power shifts among rival groups rather than by the sovereignty of individual rights. This audio was recorded at AynRandCon in Atlanta,...

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Thinking for Yourself by Gregory Salmieri

What does it mean to do one’s own thinking, especially about controversial issues, and why is this important? What are some of the obstacles to intellectual independence, and how can they be overcome? This audio was recorded at AynRandCon in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 3, 2018.

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The Sacred and the Profane: Objectivism and Religion by Aaron Smith

Why was Ayn Rand opposed to religion? What does Rand make of the notions of the sacred, of reverence, of worship, of the exalted? What is the difference between the ideals common to religions and the ideals projected in Rand’s fiction? Why does she think that man is a proper object of reverence? In this...

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The “Virtue of Selfishness”? Ayn Rand’s Ethics of Egoism in Your Own Life by Elan Journo

Ayn Rand held that an individual’s pursuit of “his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.” Fifty years ago, Rand published The Virtue of Selfishness, a groundbreaking book laying out her ethics of rational egoism. What does it look like to be selfish in your own...

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Free Speech Panel at the University of Southern California with Dave Rubin, Colin Moriarty and Steve Simpson

College used to be grounded in the inviolate principle that each of us should confront new ideas, speak our minds, and learn. Has that time passed? This year (2017) alone we have seen a riot at U.C. Berkeley and violence at Middlebury College over controversial speakers. Instead of “express yourself,” a new view seems to...

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Ayn Rand’s Philosophy for Living on Earth (Part 2) by Ben Bayer

Discussing Objectivism: Ayn Rand’s Philosophy for Living on Earth (Part 2). Recorded at Objectivist Summer Conference 2018. This session explores the basic contours of Ayn Rand’s overall philosophy by discussing highlights from Galt’s speech in Atlas Shrugged. (We try to avoid Atlas plot spoilers.)

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Making Sense of Today’s Political Culture with Greg Salmieri and Dave Rubin

This is the twelfth and final episode in a series looking at Objectivism’s approach to Happiness. Philosopher Gregory Salmieri joins Dave Rubin to discuss the state of today’s political culture.

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A Philosophy of Success with John Allison and Dave Rubin

This is the eleventh episode in a series looking at Objectivism’s approach to Happiness. John Allison joins Dave Rubin to discuss how the Objectivist ethics enabled his business success.

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The Psychology of Happiness with Gregory Salmieri, Gena Gorlin and Dave Rubin

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.

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Why Ayn Rand Matters with Yaron Brook and Dave Rubin

This is the ninth episode in a series looking at Objectivism’s approach to Happiness. Yaron Brook joins Dave Rubin to discuss why Ayn Rand matters.

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Truth, Objectivity and Self-Interest with Harry Binswanger and Dave Rubin

This is the eighth episode in a series looking at Objectivism’s approach to Happiness. Philosopher Harry Binswanger joins Dave Rubin to discuss truth, objectivity and self-interest.

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How to Fill Your Life with Meaning with Yaron Brook, Gena Gorlin and Dave Rubin

This is the seventh episode in a series looking at Objectivism’s approach to Happiness. Yaron Brook and psychologist Gena Gorlin join Dave Rubin to discuss what it takes to have a meaningful life.

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Taking Your Happiness Seriously with Tara Smith and Dave Rubin

This is the sixth episode in a series looking at Objectivism’s approach to Happiness. Philosopher Tara Smith joins Dave Rubin to discuss what it means to take one’s happiness seriously.

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Grounding Morality in Facts with Harry Binswanger, Gregory Salmieri and Dave Rubin

This is the fifth episode in a series looking at Objectivism’s approach to Happiness. Philosophers Gregory Salmieri and Harry Binswanger join Dave Rubin to discuss Objectivism’s view on the relationship between facts and values, why Ayn Rand’s ideas generate the strong reactions they do, and Harry’s experience knowing Ayn Rand personally.

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Creating a Life Worth Living with Onkar Ghate, Gregory Salmieri and Dave Rubin

This is the fourth episode in a series looking at Objectivism’s approach to Happiness. Philosophers Gregory Salmieri and Onkar Ghate join Dave Rubin to discuss how to create a life worth living.

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Tribalism vs. Enlightenment Culture with Yaron Brook, Onkar Ghate and Dave Rubin

This is the third episode in a series looking at Objectivism’s approach to Happiness. Yaron Brook and Onkar Ghate join Dave Rubin to discuss Enlightenment culture and the pursuit of happiness, in contrast with the culture of tribalism and self-sacrifice.

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Do We Have Free Will? with Onkar Ghate and Dave Rubin

This is the second episode in a series looking at Objectivism’s approach to Happiness. Philosopher Onkar Ghate joins Dave Rubin to discuss the perennial philosophical question: Do we have free will?

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Why Selfishness is a Virtue with Onkar Ghate, Tara Smith and Dave Rubin

This is the first in a series looking at Objectivism’s approach to Happiness. Onkar Ghate and Tara Smith join Dave to discuss the virtue of selfishness.

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Ayn Rand’s Philosophy for Living on Earth (Part 1) by Ben Bayer

This session explores the basic contours of Ayn Rand’s overall philosophy by discussing highlights from Galt’s speech in Atlas Shrugged. On Day 1, we discuss the following questions: Is our society and our world, like Galt’s, going through a moral crisis? Why does Galt think the solution to this crisis is to discover morality, rather...

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Objectivism is Radical (and Applying It Can be Hard) by Yaron Brook

FROM THE VAULT–classic content from the Ayn Rand Institute. In this talk, Yaron Brook discusses how radical Objectivism is and the difficulties involved in applying it, especially in the current culture. This lecture was recorded at Objectivist Summer Conference 2013 in Chicago.

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Free Speech and the Internet by Yaron Brook

In recent years, the internet has become the focus of debates about free speech, and the issue is rapidly coming to a head. The internet provides a platform to bring people closer together and to empower individuals by enabling new voices to be heard and sparking the formation of new communities and new movements. But...

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The Idealism of Objectivism by Aaron Smith

What Might Be and Ought to Be: The Idealism of Objectivism Ayn Rand is often charged with advocating a kind of cynical amoralism; but the opposite is true. Rand was a moral idealist. In this session, we will discuss the nature and roots of that idealism, addressing such questions as: What does it mean to...

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Patrick Bet-David Interviews Yaron Brook

In this video, recorded at Objectivist Summer Conference 2018, Patrick Bet-David interviews Yaron Brook to discuss Objectivism and Capitalism. Brook responds to questions such as:  Is Objectivism a philosophy for elitists?  Is it sustainable to run a nation based on this philosophy?  How is world peace achieved?  Has religion done more good or bad for the...

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Free Speech, De-Platforming, Patreon and Sam Harris’s Response

Yaron Brook talks with Onkar Ghate and Greg Salmieri about free speech, the Patreon scandal, and Sam Harris’s reaction. During this Livestream from the Ayn Rand Institute the guests will discuss free speech from an Objectivist perspective and why the controversy is philosophic in nature.

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Thinking Like an Individualist by Ben Bayer

This session explores a key theme of The Fountainhead: the importance of thinking for oneself. We discuss how key speeches and passages from the book address these questions: What does it mean to think for oneself? Does it mean believing whatever one likes, never learning from or agreeing with others, judging everything on a case-by-case...

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What It Means to Be Selfish in Life and in Politics: Yaron Brook at Exeter University

In this talk, Yaron Brook discusses what it means to be selfish, what role selfishness has in politics, and how selfishness contributes to creating a happy productive life. This talk was streamed live from Exeter University on November 13, 2018.

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Deeper Connection Through Mutual Selfishness by Gena Gorlin

This talk integrates the moral perspective offered by Rand’s “trader principle” with psychological tools and insights for improving assertive communication. Attendees will learn how skills such as reflective listening, the “broken record” technique, perspective-taking, and ”I”-statements can deepen the intimacy and value derived from close personal relationships, largely by conveying respect for the other person’s...

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Howard Roark and the Great Heroes of Literature by Andrew Bernstein

This talk shows that there are several attributes of literary heroism: the promotion of life-affirming values, the depth of virtue(s) manifested, the power of antagonists faced, and the hero’s degree of prowess. When we deploy such criteria and compare and contrast Howard Roark to some of literature’s other great heroes-for example, Odysseus, Cyrano, Doctor Stockmann,...

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The Berkeley “Free Speech Movement” and the Erosion of Free Speech by Steve Simpson

In the 1960s, protests erupted at U.C. Berkeley over a ban on political activity on campus. Students marched and occupied school property, all in the name of “free speech.” Today, the Free Speech Movement launched at Berkeley in the 1960s is widely held as a model for advocates of the right to free speech. Is...

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What Is Killing Western Civilization? with Douglas Murray, Claire Fox and Yaron Brook

Cultural observers have often noted that Europe — and, more broadly, Western civilization — despite historically unprecedented success, is in danger of losing itself. But what exactly is being lost, and why? And what can be done about it? In a recent panel discussion entitled “What Is Killing Western Civilization?,” Yaron Brook (chairman of the board of...

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Sport as an Arena for Admiration by Tara Smith

On a Pedestal: Sport as an Arena for Admiration This talk explores the value of admiration in the realm of sports. At a time when much in the world around us seems distinctly un-admirable, spotlighting athletes’ achievements offers a refreshing antidote. Even those who aren’t sports fans can gain a deeper appreciation of how admiration...

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Spacetime, Black Holes and Gravitational Waves by Keith Lockitch

“More Things in Heaven and Earth”: Spacetime, Black Holes, and Gravitational Waves The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for the first-ever detection of gravitational waves, confirming a 100-year-old prediction of Einstein’s. The discovery, announced in 2015, launched a new era of gravitational wave astronomy, but also raises challenging philosophical questions about the nature...

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Elevating the Dialogue: Overcoming Today’s Intellectual Abyss with Sargon of Akkad and Gregory Salmieri

The political climate in the West, described by some as toxic, is deteriorating rapidly. The worse it gets, the more we hear about the conflation of speech and action, that words lead to violence, and that government should step in. How serious are the problems around modern political discourse, such as trolling and de-platforming, and...

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“Kill by Laughter”: Humor in The Fountainhead by Robert Mayhew

“Kill by Laughter”: Humor in The Fountainhead and Its 21st-Century Relevance The Fountainhead is the novel in which Ayn Rand’s conception of humor (good and bad) comes across most clearly. The novel begins: “Howard Roark laughed.” Yet the villain Ellsworth Toohey, presenting his recipe for achieving power, recommends that we “kill by laughter.” This lecture...

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The Fountainhead on What Is Important (and What Is Not) by Gregory Salmieri

The characters in The Fountainhead have differing views of what is important in life. The more sympathetic characters differ in the significance they place on the vices or inadequacies they observe in other people and in the culture at large. Dr. Salmieri explores the novel’s treatment of this issue and elaborates on Howard Roark’s distinctive...

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Philosophy and the Human Soul with Yaron Brook, Jordan Peterson, Dave Rubin and Gregory Salmieri

This panel discussion centers on the impact of philosophy on a person’s life, wrestling with topics ranging from the sovereignty of the individual to the nature of human consciousness to how values are derived from facts. This discussion took place on July 1, 2018, at Objectivist Summer Conference 2018 in Newport Beach, California.

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America, Israel and the Middle East by Elan Journo

In his new book What Justice Demands: America and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Elan Journo explains the essential nature of this pivotal conflict, what has fueled it for so long, and America’s actual stake in the region. In this introductory talk delivered at Objectivist

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Being a Rational Optimist by Yaron Brook

Why would anyone be optimistic today? Given the state of politics and our culture, and what we see on the news, it can be difficult not to have a negative view of the future. In this talk, delivered at Objectivist Summer Conference 2018, Yaron Brook says that contrary to popular belief, we ought to look forward to...

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