This is the first lecture of the Year 1 Objectivism Seminar course. The purpose of the course is to help you learn how to better understand and “chew” various principles of Objectivism and philosophical issues more generally. The course explores in some depth some of the key principles of Objectivism, especially in ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology. And it considers a bit of what Objectivism teaches about proper philosophical methodology.

Each week, OAC participants watch a lecture like this by Onkar Ghate on their own time, and then take part in a live discussion with an instructor and other students. They also communicate with one another and the instructors on a private online course platform, and students submit regular assignments.

The readings for this lecture are:

  1. “Philosophy: Who Needs It” (PWNI, Ch. 1)
  2. “Philosophical Detection” (PWNI, Ch. 2)
  3. “Philosophy and Sense of Life” (RM, Ch. 2)
  4. “Understanding Objectivism” by Leonard Peikoff, Lesson 1 (ARI Campus Course, also available in book form)

Discussion questions (Answers are submitted via the online course platform)

  1. In Lesson 1 of “Understanding Objectivism,” Peikoff presents 3 arguments against philosophy. Briefly explain which of the 3 arguments you find most persuasive and then state the major points you would make to best rebut the argument.

  2. In “Philosophy: Who Needs It,” Rand argues that members of her audience should study philosophy out of a concern for self-protection. Against what sort of threat does she think philosophy protects us? In her view, what positive goods does philosophy help us achieve?

  3. Did you find anything in the assigned readings this week unconvincing or not fully convincing? If so, explain why and what follow-up questions you would want to ask the author.

  4. In “Philosophy: Who Needs It,” Rand’s answer to her implicit question seems to be: everyone needs it. On her viewpoint, do you think philosophy is a specialized field? Explain why or why not.