Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World
In this talk on the role of philosophy in history, Ayn Rand argues that Western culture is torn by a basic contradiction between reason and the morality of altruism. She identifies the philosophical connections between faith, altruism and rule by force — and between reason, self-interest and freedom. She relates the decline of the West since the nineteenth century to the rejection by the culture’s intellectuals of reason in favor of the mysticism of altruism. The solution she offers — from the perspective of her philosophy, Objectivism — is not a political but a moral revolution.
In the ensuing Q&A, Rand discusses various topics including her recommendations for books on capitalism, the value of productiveness for one whose wealth is already assured, why the use of force is not in a rational man’s interests, the difference between breaking with society versus breaking with the culture, and the psychology of Dominique Francon in The Fountainhead.
These recordings were made in April 1961 at a presentation to the Purdue University Young Republicans. The talk had been previously delivered at Yale University on February 17, 1960; at Brooklyn College on April 4, 1960; and at Columbia University on May 5, 1960. It was later anthologized in Philosophy: Who Needs It (1982).
The lecture lasts 57 minutes, followed by a 53-minute Q&A.