philosophy

Ayn Rand on the Genealogy of Altruism by Ben Bayer

Ayn Rand made abundantly clear that the morality of altruism had no basis in reason. Where then, if not from logical arguments, did it originate? It is not enough to point to irrational philosophies: the ultimate question is, where did philosophers get the idea? This talk will explore Ayn Rand’s own views on the motives that led thinkers to adopt this irrational morality. The talk will also examine how her views on this subject developed and deepened between the writing of The Fountainhead and her later nonfiction essays. It will also compare her views to Nietzsche’s views in The Genealogy of Morals, which are similar in certain respects but profoundly different in others.

Recorded live on July 3, 2022 as part of the Objectivist Summer Conference.

Behind the Scenes: Ayn Rand on What Makes a Hero

In 1961, Mike Wallace sat down with both Ayn Rand and Mickey Spillane for an interview. For decades, this interview has been unavailable to the general public. Now we are releasing it for the first time. In this YouTube livestream event, join Elan Journo and Tom Bowden as they go “Behind the Scenes” of this historic interview and discuss how Rand and Spillane found themselves on the same stage. This interview offers a unique view of Rand—we see Ayn Rand, the friend, coming to the defense of the critically attacked Spillane and giving him credit as a “moral crusader.” Through his character Mike Hammer, Rand explains, Spillane presents us with a man who refuses to compromise his integrity. Join us for this remarkable interview and discover Rand’s answer to “What Makes a Hero?”—an answer she says will “astonish you.”

Happiness by Jean Moroney

Ayn Rand’s distinctive view of values gives her a distinctive view of happiness. Topics discussed:

– What happiness is
– Why it’s “the normal condition of man”
– The practical steps to move from unhappiness to happiness

Recorded live on July 2, 2022 as part of the Objectivist Summer Conference.

Tertullian and Thomas Aquinas by Robert Mayhew

Tertullian (ca. 160–220) and Thomas Aquinas (13th century) both defended faith as a justification for their Christian beliefs, but whereas Tertullian proudly defended faith even when it clashed with reason, Aquinas argued that there was a harmony between faith and reason — that the two could never clash. In this lecture, Dr. Mayhew will examine the views of each in detail and briefly discuss the continuing influence of their conceptions of faith and reason in the 21st century.

Hugo, Rostand, Hernani and How to Be a Romantic by Lisa VanDamme

Victor Hugo’s Hernani was more than a play. It was “the rehearsal of a revolution,” a bold theatrical rebellion that defied Classical dogmas and made way for a new Romanticism. On the centenary of Hugo’s birth, writer Edmond Rostand would pay worshipful tribute to his hero with a poem called Un Soir à Hernani. In this lecture, I will tell the thrilling story of Hernani, share excerpts from Rostand’s never-translated tribute, and highlight all that Hugo and Rostand have to show us about how to be a Romantic.

Recorded live on July 6, 2022 as part of the Objectivist Summer Conference.

Why I’m Still Optimistic in Spite of Everything by Yaron Brook

It’s difficult not to be discouraged at the state of today’s world: our dysfunctional politics, our battered economy, and a culture sinking deeper and deeper into irrationality and nihilism. In this talk, Yaron Brook explains why despite all of this, he is still optimistic. The signs of hope don’t make the headlines, but they’re all around us: from the continued innovation of the tech sector to the continued functioning of markets and businesses as engines of wealth- and job-creation, to the outraged backlash against the nuttiest ideas, to the persistent, gradual rise of Objectivism as it continues to reach more people and change more lives.

Recorded live on July 7, 2022 as part of the Objectivist Summer Conference.

Stoicism vs Objectivism: What Is (and Is Not) Under Our Control? by Aaron Smith

Objectivism holds that it’s vital to understand what things are under our control and what are not. To avoid passive resignation toward what we can change and futile rebellion against the unchangeable, we need to internalize the right perspective on this issue. This talk contrasts the Objectivist perspective on this question with that of Stoicism. Both philosophies regard the issue as of central practical importance to a good life, but they differ in fundamental ways that are instructive to explore.

Recorded live as part of The Objectivist Conference on August 31, 2021.

Ayn Rand Con Second Q&A Panel on Objectivism with Onkar Ghate, Aaron Smith and Nikos Sotirakopoulos

After reflecting on the day’s talks, the audience asks questions they have about Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism.

Recorded at AynRandCon – Europe in London on April 3, 2022.

Free Will by Onkar Ghate (ARC EU 2022)

One core premise of Ayn Rand’s philosophy 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 provide the foundation for her radical new moral philosophy.

Recorded at AynRandCon – Europe in London on April 3, 2022.

Ayn Rand Con First Q&A Panel on Objectivism with Yaron, Onkar, Keith

After reflecting on the day’s talks, participants asked questions about Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism.

Recorded at AynRandCon – Europe in London on April 2, 2022.

The Evil of Self-Sacrifice by Aaron Smith

Everyone knows that altruism — selfless sacrifice for the sake of others — is the essence of virtue, right? But what if, like the concept “selfishness,” our understanding of the true meaning of “altruism” and “sacrifice” is completely mistaken? What if these ideas are actually destructive and harmful? From Ayn Rand’s perspective, our whole way of thinking about morality needs to be radically rethought.

Recorded at AynRandCon – Europe in London on April 2, 2022.

An Overview of Ayn Rand’s Ideas by Onkar Ghate

This talk was part of Ayn Rand Con Europe on April 3, 2022.

Montessori and the Independent Mind with Matt Bateman, Catherine Dickerson, Allison Kunze, and Anne Locke Bussey

Ayn Rand, champion of the independent mind, championed Montessori education. Drawing on their experience with hundreds of individual young minds in Toddler, Primary and Elementary Montessori classrooms as well as home environments, this panel will explore Montessori’s emphasis on children’s independence in thought and action. Parents and those who work with children will get ideas for supporting their children’s independence.

Free Speech Under Attack Panel with Steve Simpson, Flemming Rose, Dave Rubin

Freedom of speech is a bedrock principle throughout the Western world, but increasingly it is being challenged — on college campuses, among intellectuals and in politics — in the name of preventing offense and “hate.” Why is this happening and what does it mean for the future of free speech.

Panelists are Steve Simpson, director of Legal Studies at the Ayn Rand Institute and editor of “Defending Free Speech”; Flemming Rose, author of “Tyranny of Silence: How One Cartoon Ignited a Global Debate on the Future of Free Speech,” and Dave Rubin, creator and host of the Rubin Report. The event, “Free Speech Under Attack,” took place at Objectivist Summer Conference 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday, June 13, 2017.

The Nature of Evil by Gregory Salmieri

A theme in Ayn Rand’s fiction is that the failure to understand evil is a source of error and unhappiness for good people. Drawing on the Objectivist corpus this talk will explore the nature of evil, including: the ways in which actions, motives, ideas and people can be evil; the respects in which evil is and is not important; and how understanding evil can help us to appreciate the good and to foster the best in ourselves and others. Recorded live as part of The Objectivist Conference on September 01, 2021.

All Regulation is Over-Regulation by Harry Binswanger

Conservatives complain about “over-regulation,” but all governmental regulation—regulation as such—is destructive and evil. Ayn Rand wrote that the premise of regulation is “the concept that a man is guilty until he is proved innocent by the permissive rubber stamp of a commissar or a Gauleiter.” Dr. Binswanger will argue that government must have “probable cause” before it can use force against someone—and he will discuss how this applies not only to business activity, but also to immigration, “public health” and gun ownership. Recorded live as part of The Objectivist Conference on August 31, 2021.

Ayn Rand’s Intransigent Atheism by Robert Mayhew

Ayn Rand was not a crusader against theism, but a creator and defender of a rational philosophy for living on Earth. Every fundamental of her philosophy, however, has negative implications for theism and religious belief. This lecture examines the radical nature of her atheism, with special attention given to the idea of God, the arguments for God’s existence, and what Ayn Rand means in claiming “that nobody actually believes in God.” (Companion to Mayhew’s OCON 2014 lecture “Ayn Rand’s Sacred Atheism.”) Recorded live as part of The Objectivist Conference on August 30, 2021.

OCON 2021: Spreading Objectivism: A Vision for ARI’s Future with Tal Tsfany

Tal Tsfany, ARI’s president and CEO, will review ARI’s mission to spread Objectivism and the progress made during 2020-21. ARI’s strategy for the future will be presented together with many data points and insights, collected through newly implemented technologies and methodologies. Mr. Tsfany will answer questions about the direction ARI is taking.

Celebrating Thirty Years of “OPAR” Panel with John Allison, Yaron Brook, Tara Smith

John Allison, Yaron Brook and Tara Smith each have a unique perspective on the role that Objectivism has played in their lives and work. Join these panelists as they celebrate the 30th anniversary of Leonard Peikoff’s masterwork and reflect on the impact that OPAR has had on their understanding of Objectivism and their ability to apply it successfully in their careers—in business, in public intellectual activism and in academic philosophy.

Keynote: Celebrating Thirty Years of “OPAR” by Yaron Brook

The publication of Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand in 1991 was a landmark event. As a longtime student and friend of Leonard Peikoff, Yaron Brook will give some thoughts on the impact that OPAR has had on his own intellectual development and on the Objectivist movement.

Being Objective About the News by Ben Bayer

In the 2016 election, there was widespread concern about “fake news” and media bias. This talk explores the guidance Objectivist epistemology offers for being an objective consumer of the news. How do the requirements of integration and reduction help guide one’s acceptance of the reports of others? How do we avoid uncritical reliance on the media without becoming skeptics of journalism as such? How do we avoid bias without abandoning concern for our values?

This talk is by Ben Bayer, fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute and former teacher of philosophy at Loyola University New Orleans. His research focuses primarily on questions about the foundations of knowledge and the freedom of the will. This talk was delivered on Monday, June 12, 2017, at Objectivist Summer Conference 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Life, Liberty, and Intellectual Property with Adam Mossoff

In this talk, Mossoff addresses the nature of patent rights, emphasizing the Founding Fathers’ moral achievement in securing patents and other intellectual property rights in U.S. law. Known for leading the charge on intellectual property rights, Mossoff has testified before the Senate and the House on patent legislation, and speaks and writes extensively on the issue.

This talk was recorded as part of OCON 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Reclaiming Americanism Panel

A New Textbook of Americanism: The Politics of Ayn Rand (2018) presents Rand’s distinctive philosophical conception of “Americanism” and shows why it is so urgently needed today. This panel features the book’s editor Jonathan Hoenig and several contributors.

Recorded live at OCON on June 24, 2019

Foundations of a Free Society Panel

Foundations of a Free Society: Reflections on Ayn Rand’s Political Philosophy (2019) is an in-depth philosophic exploration of Rand’s advocacy of capitalism. The book relates her ideas to contemporary and historical debates, and particularly the views of other thinkers seen as defending individual liberty and free markets. This panel moderated by Elan Journo features contributors to the book.

Recorded live at OCON on June 25, 2019

Earning Your Own Trust: The Psychology of Honesty by Gena Gorlin

This talk discusses the meaning and importance of being honest, especially with oneself—why it matters, why it can be hard and how to make it habit. Dr. Gorlin offers tools for introspecting the difference between reason and rationalizing, for staying selfishly committed to facts even when it hurts, and for correcting habits to the contrary. The talk draws on research and clinical experience, further clarified by Ayn Rand’s insights on the choice to focus.

Recorded live at OCON on June 25, 2019.

The Subtheme of Free Will in Atlas Shrugged by Ben Bayer

According to Ayn Rand, the theme of Atlas Shrugged is “the role of the mind in man’s existence.” In this session, we explore how Rand conveys her distinctive theory of free will, that the operation of the mind itself is volitional. In particular, we focus on a key conflict in the plot that is resolved only when one character realizes that the mind is volitional. Recorded live at OCON on June 27, 2019

The Romanticism of Atlas Shrugged by Ben Bayer

Ayn Rand described Romanticism as “a category of art based on the recognition of the principle that man possesses the faculty of volition.” In this session, we discuss how her novel “Atlas Shrugged” fits into this category. Drawing on the framework Rand establishes in her essay “What Is Romanticism?,” we explore how the major conflicts in the plot of “Atlas Shrugged” express Rand’s commitment to the premise of volition in man’s existential action, and how the major value-conflicts faced by central characters in the novel express the same commitment in regard to man’s consciousness. We also highlight the importance of each of these features of Rand’s Romanticism and how they contribute to the enjoyment of the novel.

Free Will by Onkar Ghate

Recorded live at Ayn Rand Conference Europe 2020

The Virtue of Selfishness by Elan Journo

Recorded live at Ayn Rand Conference Europe 2020

How Did Freedom Fare in the Supreme Court This Year? (2018) with Amy Peikoff, Larry Salman, Steve Simpson

Gay wedding cakes. Compulsory union dues. Mandatory disclosures for pregnancy centers. Police searches of cell phone records. These are just a few of the subjects the Supreme Court has taken up this term. The Court’s major cases impact freedom in America and involve fascinating political and philosophical questions. Our panel of experts: Amy Peikoff, Larry Salzman and Steve Simpson, analyze some of the Court’s most momentous decisions from this term and explain their implications.

Recorded live at OCON 2018 on July 3, 2018.

Yaron Brook Debates David Pakman on Ayn Rand

Listen to the first in a series of four discussions between Ayn Rand Institute chairman Yaron Brook and David Pakman about Ayn Rand and Objectivism. Pakman is the host of the internationally syndicated television and radio program The David Pakman Show.

The Philosophical Roots of Chinese Strategic Thought by Scott D. McDonald

Traditional Chinese philosophy continues to influence the thinking and values of Chinese Communist Party leadership, and informs a system of Chinese strategic thought that differs significantly from that of the West. This talk introduces the fundamentals of Chinese philosophy, their relationship to Chinese strategic culture, and their influence on PRC security policy, in order to demonstrate the importance of understanding an adversary’s philosophy and shed light on the nature of the PRC’s campaign against the United States.

This talk was recorded at Objectivist Summer Conference 2018.

Achieving Happiness: Living Life with Purpose

Objectivism is a “philosophy for living on earth” as Ayn Rand wrote. In this discussion, Ms. Agarwal and Mr. Tsfany relate how they understand the process of implementing Rand’s philosophy in one’s life and career. The conversation covers aspects of discovering, defining and pursuing a life of purpose and, consequently, happiness and fulfillment. This talk was recorded at Objectivist Summer Conference 2019.

Free Speech, Free Minds, Free Markets by Tara Smith

Many people believe that while freedom of speech is a vital human liberty, economic freedom is entirely separate, merely a distant and inferior relation. This lecture exposes their error by examining the underappreciated implications of free speech on free markets. After isolating the First Amendment’s core concern as intellectual freedom, Smith demonstrates how the mind is the bridge between speech and property—between intellectual activity, on the other hand, and its manifold material rewards, on the other.

Recorded Live in Cleveland on Thursday June 27th, 2019.

Thinking Objectively in Times of Crisis by Gregory Salmieri

The COVID-19 pandemic and the response to it at all levels of government have disrupted all of our lives. As we begin to contemplate the challenge of reopening and rebuilding the economy in the face on the ongoing spread of the virus, it’s critical to employ the right philosophical framework for thinking about these issues, and to not be misled by false alternatives, wishful thinking, tribalistic finger-pointing and other forms of distorted thinking.

This is the third of four talks recorded on April 18, 2020, as part of AynRandCon-LIVE, a free online event offering a framework for thinking about the COVID-19 crisis from the perspective of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism.



Objectivity in Government in Times of Crisis by Yaron Brook

The COVID-19 pandemic and the response to it at all levels of government have disrupted all of our lives. As we begin to contemplate the challenge of reopening and rebuilding the economy in the face on the ongoing spread of the virus, it’s critical to employ the right philosophical framework for thinking about these issues, and to not be misled by false alternatives, wishful thinking, tribalistic finger-pointing and other forms of distorted thinking.

This is the second of four talks recorded on April 18, 2020, as part of AynRandCon-LIVE, a free online event offering a framework for thinking about the COVID-19 crisis from the perspective of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism.

Infectious Disease Under the American Form of Government by Onkar Ghate

The COVID-19 pandemic and the response to it at all levels of government have disrupted all of our lives. As we begin to contemplate the challenge of reopening and rebuilding the economy in the face on the ongoing spread of the virus, it’s critical to employ the right philosophical framework for thinking about these issues, and to not be misled by false alternatives, wishful thinking, tribalistic finger-pointing and other forms of distorted thinking.

This is the first of four talks recorded live on April 18, 2020, as part of AynRandCon-LIVE, a free online event offering a framework for thinking about the COVID-19 crisis from the perspective of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism.

Aristotle and the Romantic Manifesto by Robert Mayhew

In the Romantic Manifesto, Ayn Rand reports that before she heard the name “Aristotle,” she had accepted his principle “that fiction is of greater philosophical importance than history, because history represents things only as they are, while fiction represents them ‘as they might be and ought to be.’” The aim of this talk is to explain the role of this principle in Aristotle’s esthetics and Ayn Rand’s, and to note other parallels between the Poetics and Romantic Manifesto.

Recorded live on June 27, 2019 in Cleveland, OH.

Highlights from the Romantic Manifesto by Onkar Ghate, Yaron Brook

The Romantic Manifesto is a rich and philosophically penetrating book. It is, Rand states in her introduction, a “declaration of my personal objectives or motives” as an artist and “of the theoretical grounds that entitle me to these objectives and motives.” We explore some of the insights into Objectivism we get from her manifesto and some lessons to take—or not to take—from the book to increase one’s enjoyment of art and of life.

Recorded live at OCON 2019 in Cleveland, OH.

What’s Wrong with “Virtue Signaling”? by Ben Bayer

Think about celebrities who tweet about their politics all the time, or think about companies who want you to buy their products because they’re supposedly eco-friendly. Some say that these are symptoms of an epidemic that’s coursing it’s way through social media and through our political discourse generally, an epidemic they call “virtue signalling”.

Ben Bayer, a fellow at The Ayn Rand Institute, has some questions about this. You’re said to be a virtue signaller when you promote some cause or criticize some figure people love to hate in a way that doesn’t involve much cost, but which draws attention to your own right way of thinking.

What, if anything, is wrong with this kind of behavior? Is there a kind of behavior here at all or do the critics of virtue signalling lump together lots of different things? Is speaking out ineffective only because it’s speaking? Does profiting from the judgment of others make you insincere? 

Join Ben Bayer and explore the question: What’s wrong with “virtue signalling”?

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 right? And is art (painting, sculpture, music, architecture) objective or subjective? Is beauty in the eye of the beholder?

Join Harry Binswanger as he presents Rand’s revolutionary answer to the question: What is art and what are the standards for judging art?

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 and thinking?

There are people who lie, cheat, steal, rape, murder and worse—and, clearly, they deserve to be morally condemned.

On the other hand, there are honest, thoughtful, productive, and truly heroic people. To form a positive evaluation of them, some kind of moral judgement is needed.

Join Elan Journo as he explores another one of life’s big questions: Should you judge other people?

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 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?

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 Objectivism exploring especially Rand’s moral and religious views, which are at the heart of her radicalness. Ghate also considers why she championed self-interest and her new conception of a moral hero.

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 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.