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)


Art

  • Q&A: Enjoying Atlas Shrugged: 19 Jul 2015, Question 2
  • Question: How can I be less annoyed with Atlas Shrugged? I love Ayn Rand's ideas, and I thoroughly enjoy her non-fiction. I want to enjoy Atlas Shrugged and her other fiction more, but I'm often annoyed with the aesthetics of her work. I acknowledge the fact that the novels are great, but every time I see mention of Francisco's mocking smile or John Galt's mocking eyes or Hank Rearden's mocking laugh or John Galt's implacable voice or New York City's implacable skyline or Dagny Taggart's silent terror, I just want to pull my hair out. I find myself wanting to throw the book at the wall every time she uses those words! I understand that loving her novels is not a prerequisite for applying her philosophy, but I really desire to experience the joy that many other people feel while reading her work. How can I get more enjoyment out of it?

    Tags: Art, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Literature, Objectivism, Philosophy, Style, Values

  • Q&A: The Power of Fiction: 12 Jul 2015, Question 2
  • Question: Why does fiction arouse such a powerful emotional response? Why are people moved emotionally by literature and movies, even though they know that they're fictional? Shouldn't people respond emotionally only to real events, not products of imagination? Is there a rational basis for our emotional response to fiction?

    Tags: Art, Emotion, Film, Imagination, Life, Literature, Philosophy, Psychology, Values

  • 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: The Cultural Effects of Superhero Movies: 27 Jul 2014, Question 3
  • Question: Do good ideas in superhero movies and television change people's philosophy? I have really enjoyed the pro-freedom and pro-personal responsibility messages of some recent superhero movies. However, I wonder whether those messages do any good. Rationally, I believe that a person can enjoy these superhero characters and then relate their qualities to a normal human standard. However, for the average viewer, I wonder whether the gulf between their superpowers and ordinary human powers creates a moral gulf too, so that people see the moral ideals of the superheroes as beyond the reach of us mere mortals. Is that right? Can these movies really affect people's ideas?

    Tags: Art, Culture, Culture, Ethics, Film, Literature, Politics

  • Q&A: The Purpose of Atlas Shrugged: 6 Jul 2014, Question 2
  • Question: Was Atlas Shrugged written to save America? Recently, I ran across this comment on the internet: ""Saving America wasn't the point of Atlas Shrugged, that's not the happily ever after it proposes in the end. It chronicles the main characters getting over that misguided mission and why." Two questions come to mind: (1) What was Ayn Rand's purpose in writing Atlas Shrugged? And (2) Do you think that being inspired to "save America" after reading Atlas Shrugged is misguided?

    Tags: Activism, Art, Atlas Shrugged, Free Society, Literature, Politics

  • 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: Romanticizing Historical Figures in Art: 28 Jul 2013, Question 2
  • Question: Are there moral limits to romanticizing historical figures in art? For example, a writer might romanticize Robin Hood as the Ragnar Danneskjöld of the Middle Ages. If this is proper, is there an ethical limit as to what kinds of persons one may or may not romanticize, or as to how far one may stretch the historic truth? For example, does it matter if there are still contemporaries of that historic person alive who suffered unjustly because of him? Would it be wrong to ignore some unpleasant facts in order to present a fictionalized heroic character?

    Tags: Art, Ethics, History, Honesty, Justice, Literature

  • 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: Spiritual Values: 24 Feb 2013, Question 1
  • Question: What are "spiritual" values? In your recent discussion of "Materialism in Marriage," you talked about the importance of "spiritual values." However, I found that confusing, since I've always associated "spirituality" with religion, often of the woozy variety. So what are spiritual values? How are they different from material values? Why are they important?

    Tags: Art, Ethics, Friendship, Introspection, Pleasure, Spiritual Values, Values

  • Q&A: Enjoying Fantasy and Theology Literature: 1 Apr 2012, Question 4
  • Question: Is an interest in fantasy and theology literature proper? I'm fascinated with fantasy as a literary genre. I find it easier to get excited about a fantastic story rather than about a realistic one, and I'm also really interested in fantasy with a certain sophistication: the extremely well-constructed world of Tolkien in Lord of the Rings, for example, or the mythological background of vampire stories and so on. Along the same lines, I am also fascinated with theology. For example, I found it extremely interesting to read Paradise Lost, and to read up on the many theological questions it raises and answers. Is such an interest proper – or am I indulging in some kind of evasion or escapism from reality? Does it matter that I want to become a writer? I find inspiration for my own potential stories this way.

    Tags: Art, Introspection, Literature, Personal Values

  • Q&A: The Value of Reading Literature: 18 Dec 2011, Question 2
  • Question: What value do you gain from reading literature? I've never much connected with literature, particularly not the classics. I know that you read them routinely. What value do you find in them? Or, what am I missing?

    Tags: Art, Literature

  • Q&A: Product Placements in Art: 9 Oct 2011, Question 3
  • Question: Is product placement in art a breach of artistic integrity? Given that an artist must select every aspect of an artistic work, does delegating some selection to the highest bidder breach the integrity of the work? Does the type of artwork matter? Would it be okay in movies, television, and literature but not paintings? Why?

    Tags: Art, Business, Ethics, Film, Integrity, Literature

  • Q&A: Atheists Singing Religious Music: 31 Jul 2011, Question 2
  • Question: Is it moral for atheists to perform religious music? I love to sing classical music, and that usually means performing with a group that does religious music, including Catholic mass and other religious songs. Some of these groups are secular and perform it for the artistic value alone, but other groups are explicitly religious, such as those affiliated with a church. Is it wrong for an atheist like me to join either of these types of groups?

    Tags: Art, Atheism, Christianity, Music, Religion, Sanction

  • Q&A: Personal Art Recommendations: 22 May 2011, Question 5
  • Question: Can you give some art recommendations? Specifically, what would say would be your two or three favorites in the following categories, and why? (1) literature, (2) paintings/sculpture, (3) music, (4) movies, and (5) television.

    Tags: Art, Film, Literature, Music, Television

  • 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

  • Interview: Earl Parson on The Work of an Architect: 24 Oct 2010
  • Summary: In this interview, architect Earl Parson discusses his work, particularly the then-in-progress Tennessee House.

    Tags: Architecture, Art, Business

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 20: 9 Oct 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 3: Chapters 9 and 10 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

    Tags: Art, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Epistemology, Ethics, Literature, Metaphysics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 19: 16 Sep 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 3: Chapter 8 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

    Tags: Art, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Epistemology, Ethics, Literature, Metaphysics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Sessions 17 and 18: 4 Jun 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 3: Chapter 7 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

    Tags: Art, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Epistemology, Ethics, Literature, Metaphysics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 16: 24 May 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 3: Chapters 5B and 6 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

    Tags: Art, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Epistemology, Ethics, Literature, Metaphysics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 15: 30 Apr 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 3: Chapters 4 and 5A of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

    Tags: Art, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Epistemology, Ethics, Literature, Metaphysics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 14: 16 Apr 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 3: Chapter 3 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

    Tags: Art, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Epistemology, Ethics, Literature, Metaphysics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 13: 26 Feb 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 3: Chapter 2 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

    Tags: Art, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Epistemology, Ethics, Literature, Metaphysics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 12: 19 Feb 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 3: Chapter 1 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

    Tags: Art, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Epistemology, Ethics, Literature, Metaphysics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 11: 15 Feb 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 2: Chapters 9 and 10 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

    Tags: Art, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Epistemology, Ethics, Literature, Metaphysics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 10: 2 Feb 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 2: Chapters 7 and 8 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

    Tags: Art, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Epistemology, Ethics, Literature, Metaphysics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 9: 25 Jan 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 2: Chapters 5 and 6 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

    Tags: Art, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Epistemology, Ethics, Literature, Metaphysics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 8: 13 Jan 2010
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 2: Chapters 3B and 4 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

    Tags: Art, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Epistemology, Ethics, Literature, Metaphysics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 7: 7 Dec 2009
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 2: Chapters 2 and 3A of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

    Tags: Art, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Epistemology, Ethics, Literature, Metaphysics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 6: 16 Nov 2009
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 1: Chapter 10B and Part 2: Chapter 1 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

    Tags: Art, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Epistemology, Ethics, Literature, Metaphysics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 5: 9 Nov 2009
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 1: Chapters 9 and 10A of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

    Tags: Art, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Epistemology, Ethics, Literature, Metaphysics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 4: 26 Oct 2009
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 1: Chapters 7B and 8 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

    Tags: Art, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Epistemology, Ethics, Literature, Metaphysics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 3: 19 Oct 2009
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 1: Chapters 6 and 7A of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

    Tags: Art, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Epistemology, Ethics, Literature, Metaphysics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 2: 12 Oct 2009
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 1: Chapters 4 and 5 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

    Tags: Art, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Epistemology, Ethics, Literature, Metaphysics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics

  • Podcast: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 1: 5 Oct 2009
  • Summary: I discuss the events, characters, and ideas in Part 1: Chapters 1, 2, and 3 of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

    Tags: Art, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Epistemology, Ethics, Literature, Metaphysics, Objectivism, Philosophy, Politics


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