Foundations of Physical Science: Motion and Gravitation | 2024

This course will trace the development of man’s understanding of motion and gravitation, starting with the earliest astronomical observations of pre-Greek civilizations, and culminating in the achievements of Isaac Newton. How did mankind progress from a state of total ignorance about the stars, planets, Sun, and Moon to our first scientific understanding of these bodies and the laws that govern their behavior? No prerequisites or background in physics are required.

Introduction to the Objectivist Ethics | 2024

This course will examine the foundational principles of Ayn Rand’s moral philosophy while addressing core questions that her theory typically raises. Its major topics will be: the foundations of value; the objectivity of value (in contrast with intrinsicist and subjectivist conceptions); the fact-value relationship; survival “versus” flourishing; the choice to live; the causal character of moral guidance; the role of values and virtues; egoism. Principal readings will be essays and excerpts from Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff, possibly supplemented with essays by other scholars of Objectivism.

Victor Hugo’s The Man Who Laughs | 2024

Victor Hugo’s The Man Who Laughs: The Hero with the Passion and Power of Prometheus.

The Man Who Laughs, according to Ayn Rand, was the best novel ever written by Victor Hugo, her favorite novelist. Together, we will see why she was right. In our course, we will analyze its structure, relish its descriptive style, and appreciate the integration of the suspenseful plot with the theme, colorful drama, and razor-sharp character portrayals. We will focus especially on the dramatic set-up, key turning points in the hero’s life, the crucial conflicts and contrasts, the moments when the “man who laughs” becomes the man who acts, and speaks—and, of course, the scene Ayn Rand said was the one scene, in all world literature, she wished she had written.

In the course, we will read the novel in parts, with no more than 100 pages per week, and sometimes less. If you are reading the novel in English, I recommend the only complete English translation in print, The Laughing Man, translated by the award- winning James Hogarth, published by Kennedy and Boyd in 2008 (ISBN 1 904999 84 3). (Other in-print or electronic editions have some omissions, though they do render the narrative.) If you are reading the novel in French, the two-volume Nelson edition has the full text and is the edition in Ayn Rand’s library.

Plato and Aristotle

This course will survey the essentials of the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. We’ll trace the development of Plato’s thought from the early dialogues, which focus on various ethical theses and on the standards for knowledge they presuppose, to Plato’s development of the first philosophical system–an integrated set of ideas about the fundamental nature of reality, man, knowledge, and value. We’ll then turn to Aristotle, beginning with some of his views on the nature of knowledge, the structure of science, and the principles of logic. We’ll explore his views on some metaphysical issues, emphasizing the similarities and differences between his views and Plato’s, and conclude with a study of his ethics. Their positions will be considered in relation to Objectivism throughout the course.

Intellectual Development Workshop | 2024

This is an invitation-only live course for select members of the ARU Graduate Center. The Intellectual Development seminar will focus on honing participants’ public speaking skills and advanced knowledge of Objectivism. Participants will develop, deliver and receive feedback on their own talks that are intended for real speaking opportunities such as OCON, and high-level discussions will explore critical issues in Objectivism that are challenging for even experienced students of the philosophy.

Philosophy, Work, and Business

Objectivism upholds productive work as the central activity of a good life. Taking your life seriously requires taking work seriously. In this course, you will learn the principles and attitudes that will guide you in your work, your career, and in the world of business. This course is focused on ideas in action, explored through a series of live discussions with Objectivist businessmen, entrepreneurs, intellectuals, and professionals in various fields.

ITOE, Advanced Topics

2524.9675“ITOE, Advanced Topics” is an intensive study of Rand’s theory of knowledge covering the later material in Ayn Rand’s Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology: Leonard Peikoff’s essay “The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy” and the Appendix to the second edition. (The 200-page Appendix consists of excerpts from three of the four “Workshops on Objectivist Epistemology,” that Rand conducted in 1969 -1971.) The course is a continuation of Dr. Binswanger’s course “ITOE” but may be taken independently of that course. This is an intermediate to advanced course (“300 level”) and presupposes successful completion of at least two other philosophy courses, which may include “ITOE”.

Leonard Peikoff’s “Eight Great Plays” | 2024

This is a guided study of Leonard Peikoff’s recorded lecture course “8 Great Plays,” in which Dr. Peikoff selects eight masterpieces of world literature and analyzes them as great works of drama and as works that implicitly convey complete philosophies of life. ARU faculty supplement Dr. Peikoff’s lectures with live discussions and assignments that further explore the plays and the principles underlying Ayn Rand’s view that art is an indispensable need of human life.

Objectivism through Ayn Rand’s Fiction | 2024

Ayn Rand’s novels, We the Living, Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged, are self-consciously philosophical novels, containing abstract themes, characters driven by opposing moral principles, and conflicts rooted in clashing worldviews. And more than that, many of Rand’s fictional heroes discover and embody new philosophical ideas, original to Rand. To begin to understand Rand’s distinctive worldview and to learn her new philosophy, Objectivism, there is no better place to start than with careful consideration of the content and meaning of her novels, which contain rich treatments of a number of central principles of Objectivism. The course provides a powerful corrective to a tendency among students of Objectivism to neglect Rand’s fiction in their study of her philosophy.

Advanced Writing

A course that focuses on writing high quality op-ed articles, for ARU Graduate Center members (by invitation only).