Friends and Fans — I have retired from my work as a public intellectual, so Philosophy in Action is on indefinite hiatus. Please check out the voluminous archive of free podcasts, as well as the premium audio content still available for sale. My two books — Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame and Explore Atlas Shrugged — are available for purchase too. Best wishes! — Diana Brickell (Hsieh)


Aesthetics

  • Q&A: Major Branches of Philosophy: 15 Mar 2015, Question 1
  • Question: What are the major branches of philosophy? Ayn Rand claimed that philosophy consisted of five major branches – metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, and esthetics. Is that right? If so, why are those the five major branches? Are they comprehensive in some way? Why not include philosophy of science, logic, philosophy of mind, and so on?

    Tags: Academia, Aesthetics, Epistemology, Ethics, Metaphysics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics

  • Q&A: Creating Art: 18 Jan 2015, Question 3
  • Question: Is creating art necessary for a moral life? Since material values are a human need, independence requires that human beings engage in productive activity. Can the same logic be applied to art? Since art is a human need, does independence require human beings to be artistically creative? Would someone who enjoys art without producing any be an "aesthetic moocher"?

    Tags: Aesthetics, Art, Business, Economics, Hobbies, Logic, Rationalism, Trader Principle, Values

  • Q&A: Advice to New Objectivists: 15 Jun 2014, Question 2
  • Question: What advice would you give to a new Objectivist? At ATLOSCon, you led a discussion on "What I Wish I'd Known as a New Objectivist." Personally, I wish I could tell younger self that the term "selfish" doesn't mean the "screw everyone else, I'm getting mine" behavior that most people think it means. Other people will use the term that way, and trying to correct them is an uphill battle not worth fighting. I'd tell my younger self to just use a long-winded circumlocution to get the point across. What other kinds of obstacles do people new to Objectivism commonly encounter? What advice would you give to new Objectivists to help them recognize and overcome those obstacles?

    Tags: Aesthetics, Art, Ayn Rand, Communication, Epistemology, Ethics, Music, Objectivism, Personality, Philosophy, Psychology, Rationalism, Relationships, Values

  • Q&A: Creating a Stylized Life: 25 May 2014, Question 1
  • Question: Should a person seek to create a stylized life? In "The Romantic Manifesto," Ayn Rand said that "An artist does not fake reality – he stylizes it. He selects those aspects of existence which he regards as metaphysically significant – and by isolating and stressing them, by omitting the insignificant and accidental, he presents his view of existence." Should a person try to stylize his own life, such as by deliberately cultivating a consistent personal aesthetic? Should he aim to make every aspect of his life reflect his values, eliminating the rest? Would that make for a more integrated and meaningful life or might that be dangerous or undesirable in some way?

    Tags: Aesthetics, Art, Honesty, Independence, Integrity, Life, Literature, Objectivism, Values

  • Q&A: The Value of Horror Movies: 6 Feb 2014, Question 2
  • Question: Do horror movies or books have any redeeming value? In The Romantic Manifesto, Ayn Rand argued that horror was the worst genre of art, "belonging more to psychopathology than to esthetics." Is that right? Might a rational person find some value in a horror film or book? Don't some horror movies have heroic characters – such as Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator?

    Tags: Aesthetics, Art, Emotions, Ethics, Film, Psychology, Psychology, Values

  • Q&A: Photography as Art: 15 Dec 2013, Question 3
  • Question: Does photography qualify as art? I've always viewed photography as a legitimate form of art. However, many people I disagree: Ayn Rand argued that it's a technical rather than a creative skill. However, I regard photography as a technical and creative skill, just like painting. So does photography qualify as art? If not, does that mean that photography doesn't have value – or has less value than proper art forms like painting? If photography has value nonetheless, what is the source of that value?

    Tags: Aesthetics, Art, Painting, Photography, Spiritual Values, Values

  • Q&A: The Boundaries of Art: 24 Mar 2013, Question 3
  • Question: What counts as art? Ayn Rand defined art as "a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's metaphysical value-judgments." What does that mean? If art is a selective re-creation of reality, does that mean that anything can be art – such as a shoe or my kitchen trash? If art involves metaphysical value-judgments, does that mean that all art is implicitly a kind of philosophy?

    Tags: Aesthetics, Art, Personal Values, Spiritual Values

  • Q&A: Concern for Attractiveness to Others: 17 Feb 2013, Question 3
  • Question: Should you care whether other people find you attractive? I’ve heard some people say they don't care what other people think of their physical appearance: they only care about their own judgment. To care, they say, is second-handed. Is that right? It is wrong to be pleased when someone compliments you on your clothes or hair?

    Tags: Aesthetics, Beauty, Communication, Fashion, Friendship, Independence, Relationships, Respect, Romance, Style, Work

  • Q&A: Rooting for Antiheroes: 25 Nov 2012, Question 2
  • Question: Is it wrong to root for antiheroes in movies? I often root for characters like Daniel Ocean (of Ocean's 11, 12, etc.), Erik Draven (of The Crow), Harry Callahan (a.k.a. Dirty Harry), and "Mad" Max. Should I instead seek out movies with more consistently good heroes?

    Tags: Aesthetics, Character, Culture, Ethics, Film, Judgment, Justice, Literature, Personality, Progress, Psychology, Respect

  • Interview: Miranda Barzey on Why Style Matters: 20 Jun 2012
  • Summary: Many people dismiss personal style of dress as unimportant. Yet in fact, a person's style communicates far more to others than most people imagine. So what can a person do to cultivate his or her own personal style? How can a person implement that in his or her wardrobe?

    Tags: Aesthetics, Beauty, Fashion, Style

  • Q&A: The Depth of Ayn Rand's Fictional Characters: 4 Mar 2012, Question 4
  • Question: Are the characters in Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged flat due to philosophic consistency? I'm reading the novel currently, and rather enjoying it. However, I've heard many people claim her characters are flat, one-dimensional, etc. I usually respond to this by saying that Ayn Rand's characters are the incarnation of her ideas, the physical embodiment of her ideas: an individual is consumed with this philosophy, so much so that they are entirely logically consistent (or at least as much as humanly possible, they are human, and do make mistakes, e.g. Rearden's marriage), thus, because of their abnormally extensive logical consistency within their philosophy, these characters merely appear to be 'one-dimensional'. Is this an accurate understanding of Rand's characters?

    Tags: Aesthetics, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Literature, The Fountainhead

  • Podcast: Preview of Luc Travers Webcast on Appreciating Art: 9 Feb 2011
  • Summary: This podcast is the teaser for Luc Travers' webcast on the art. (That webcast is no longer available for sale.)

    Tags: Aesthetics, Art, Painting, Values


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