If you have ever wondered what philosophy is and how ideas shape human life, this course is for you. Join Gloria Álvarez as she interviews Ayn Rand Institute philosophers Harry Binswanger and Onkar Ghate on Ayn Rand’s revolutionary philosophy: Objectivism. This in-depth but accessible discussion series covers a broad range of topics, starting from the fundamentals of philosophy to ethics, politics and art.
Do you want to improve your method of thinking?
This is a course on what to do with your mind during the act of thought, when to do it and how to do it. Leonard Peikoff teaches you how to make the principles of Objectivist epistemology the guide of your own daily thought processes. These lectures are part new theory and part exercises.
In this video, philosopher Leonard Peikoff presents the essentials of Ayn Rand’s philosophy to a group of students, then answers their questions. Peikoff, who was Rand’s friend and associate for three decades, is the author of Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand and is the preeminent authority on her ideas. This presentation, recorded in San Francisco in 1995 by the Ayn Rand Institute, features a 42-minute lecture followed by a 33-minute Q&A session.
This course was adapted from a series of lectures on the history of Western philosophy, given by Leonard Peikoff to fans of Ayn Rand in the early 1970s. Peikoff holds that a knowledge of the history of philosophy is “a precondition to understanding, and therefore to changing, the nature and present course of the civilization.” The purpose of the course, therefore, is to present and analyze the central philosophical arguments and developments spanning Ancient Greece to the Enlightenment in order to show the steps by which the ideas and trends of today have come to be accepted, as well as the context in which they must be understood and, if necessary, corrected.
The course provides an excellent introduction to the subject of philosophy as well as a demonstration of the power of ideas to shape the intellectual climate of a culture. The course is intended for a general audience and presupposes no prior knowledge of philosophy.
Note: Since the lectures from which this course was adapted were originally given by Dr. Peikoff in the 1970s, a few of Dr. Peikoff’s cultural references may be obscure to those unfamiliar with the cultural atmosphere of the late 1960s and early 1970s. This will not, however, hinder one’s understanding or appreciation of the course content. Also note that not all of the material from Dr. Peikoff’s original lecture series is included in the ARI Campus version of this course. The audio of Dr. Peikoff’s complete lecture course is available for purchase at ARI’s e-store.
Disclaimer: Although Dr. Peikoff granted permission for the creation of this course in a new format, he has not reviewed or approved any of its content. The videos are accompanied by supplementary materials that were not part of the original course.
In this course, Leonard Peikoff presents the essentials of Ayn Rand’s philosophy and stresses their practical significance for each individual’s life.
Recorded live before New York City audiences in 1976, this course was endorsed by Rand in print as “the only authorized presentation of the entire theoretical structure of Objectivism, i.e., the only one that I know of my own knowledge to be fully accurate.” Rand attended the entire course and participated in eight of the twelve question-and-answer sessions.
In 1991, Peikoff reworked this course into his book Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. Because this book’s formulations and logical structure are “immeasurably superior,” Peikoff regards his book (rather than his course) as “the definitive statement of Objectivism.”
Despite having been superseded, the course has continuing value because it offers us (1) a recorded statement of the essentials of Objectivism, (2) an opportunity to discover the differences between the course and the book and (3) the chance to hear Rand answer questions from the New York audiences.
Topics covered in the course include:
- Metaphysics and man’s metaphysical nature
- The foundations of epistemology
- The nature and function of concepts
- The foundations of ethics
- Virtue, practicality and happiness
- The principles of politics and the nature of capitalism
- Objectivism’s relation to the past and the future
Disclaimer: Although Leonard Peikoff granted permission for the creation of this course in a new format, he has not reviewed or approved any of its content.
What is philosophy — and how is it relevant to my life? Ayn Rand answered these questions in her address to the senior class of the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1974.
Rand challenges the idea that philosophy belongs only in the ivory tower. Instead she argues that, whether we realize it or not, we all hold and act on philosophic ideas — and philosophy is a crucial, practical need of human life.
This illustrated audio lecture is a great starting point for those new to philosophy or to Rand’s ideas. The talk became the lead essay in Rand’s book Philosophy: Who Needs It.
Who was Ayn Rand? What kind of person did it take to create the fictional heroes of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead and to develop a new philosophy of reason? This documentary-style course traces Rand’s life (1905 – 1982) from the perspective of her goal of becoming a writer. Photographs, film clips and audio of Rand’s own personal recollections enliven this narrative of her prolific career. Among the questions answered in this course:
- What motivated Rand’s decision at age nine to become a writer?
- Why did she think it necessary to flee Soviet Russia?
- How did she get her start in Hollywood?
- How did she support herself while working on her unpublished fiction projects?
- How did she get the idea for the story of The Fountainhead?
- Why was Anthem first published in England and not the United States?
- Why did publishers who had turned down Rand’s earlier novels want to publish Atlas Shrugged?
- Why did Rand turn to nonfiction writing after publishing Atlas Shrugged in 1957?
This 1967 lecture is Ayn Rand’s flagship talk on capitalism. In it she explains in depth what capitalism is, why it is often misunderstood and why it is the only social system consonant with man’s nature. She discusses the philosophical and ethical roots of capitalism, and contrasts them with the moral-philosophic doctrines that lead to rule by force. She then discusses progress under capitalism and how it is fundamentally different from the so-called progress of a statist society. Along the way, Rand takes up such questions as:
- What is the essence of man’s nature?
- What is the fundamental basis for the concept of individual rights?
- How is capitalism consonant with man’s nature? Why are other social systems not consonant with it?
- Why is serving “the common good” not a sound principle for governing a free society?
- What are the different perspectives on “the good,” and how do they inform people’s views on what constitutes a proper social system?
- What has been the ethical basis of all tyrannies in history?
- Who prospers on a free market?
- How does a free market unleash man’s creative abilities?
- What is so often misunderstood about progress under capitalism?
This talk is excerpted from Rand’s substantially longer and more comprehensive essay of the same name. Students interested in mastering Rand’s views on capitalism are encouraged to study the full essay, available here, in addition to enjoying this course.
In 1962, Ayn Rand was invited to write a weekly column for the Los Angeles Times. Her first column was a brief introduction to her philosophy, Objectivism. In this short course, based on a recording of Rand reading her column, you will hear her summarize her positions on the nature of reality, the efficacy of human reason, the nature of man, and the ideal political system.
Here are some of the questions this course addresses:
- What are the basic tenets of Objectivism?
- What is the nature of reason?
- What is man’s moral purpose in life?
- Why is capitalism the ideal politico-economic system for man?
- What is destroying capitalism?
To get the most from this course, it is recommended that you first complete the short Philosophy: Who Needs It course.