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 what exactly is a philosophy? What does it mean to have a philosophy and, more importantly, do you need a philosophy?
Join Aaron Smith to explore one of life’s big questions: Do I need a philosophy?
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 whether God exists. For those of us who were raised in a nonreligious atmosphere, sometimes we come to wonder whether the religious have it right about God’s existence. But how do you answer the question? How do you approach the question if what you are aiming at, what you are trying to reach, is knowledge, genuine knowledge of what’s actually true. What methods do you use to answer the question, “Is there a God?”
Join Aaron Smith as he asks one of life’s big questions: Is there a God?
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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 course in life is determined by antecedent factors. Some combination of nature or nurture, it’s usually said, determines who you are and what you do in life. But against this deterministic viewpoint that has swept the 20th and 21st centuries, one of the most radical thinkers of the 20th century, philosopher Ayn Rand, takes a very different position. She argues that the fact of choice is real and it’s vital to understand the actual power and control that free will gives you over your own mind, and so your own life. Far from being an illusion, free will is a fundamental fact about you as a human being. The real illusion, she argues, is that determinism, the denial of free will, is a logical, coherent, scientific position. It isn’t.
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 true? This week on Philosophy for Living on Earth, ARI’s Ben Bayer explores another one of life’s big questions: Should I go by reason or by faith?
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 with advantages that other people don’t have. So, how can we take credit for our achievements? How can we be blamed for our crimes?
Join Ben Bayer to explore one of life’s big questions: Can you take credit for who you are?
Recorded live as part of ARI’s Philosophy of Living on Earth webinar series on August 10, 2019
Sign up up to attend the next webinar live at http://courses.aynrand.org/webinars/register
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 recorded at AynRandCon in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 4, 2018.