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)


Ayn Rand

  • 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

  • Podcast: Should You Try to Be Morally Perfect?: 2 Apr 2015
  • Summary: Most people dismiss any ideal of moral perfection as beyond their reach. "I'm only human," they say. That view is a legacy of Christianity, which teaches that moral perfection is possible to God alone and that any attempt at moral perfection is the sin of pride. In sharp contrast, Ayn Rand argues that moral perfection is not only possible to ordinary people, but also necessary for anyone who wants to live a virtuous and happy life. Hence, pride, understood as moral ambitiousness, is one of her seven major virtues – as seen in the heroes of her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

    This talk explores Ayn Rand's views of moral perfection, ambition, and pride. What does she think that morality demands? How can people achieve that? How should people respond to their own moral wrongs and errors? Comparing Rand's answers to these questions to those of Aristotle, I show that despite some differences in each philosopher's conception of virtue, they share the compelling view that seeking moral perfection is crucially important to a person's life and happiness.

    This lecture was given on 6 March 2012 at the University of Colorado at Boulder as part of the Philosophy Department's "Think!" series.

    Tags: Ambition, Aristotle, Ayn Rand, Character, Ethics, Evasion, Expertise, Free Will, Moral Perfection, Moral Responsibility, Moral Saints, Moral Wrongs, Objectivism, Perfection, Perfectionism, Pride, Rationality, Skills, Susan Wolf, Virtue

  • 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: The Errors of "Open Objectivism": 6 Apr 2014, Question 1
  • Question: What is "open Objectivism"? Recently, I checked out the website of "The Atlas Society," the organization run by David Kelley. It advocates for "open Objectivism," which I assume means that each person defines what Objectivism is. Am I interpreting that correctly? What's wrong with that approach? Does regarding Objectivism as "closed" lead to intolerance, insularity, and schisms?

    Tags: Ayn Rand, Community, Ethics, Honesty, Justice, Objectivism, Objectivist Movement, Philosophy, Tolerance

  • Q&A: Visibility of Disabled Children: 19 May 2013, Question 3
  • Question: Should disabled kids be kept out of the public eye? Recently, a waiter at a restaurant refused to serve one party after hearing them make fun of a child with Down's Syndrome sitting with his family in a nearby booth. Both parties were regulars to the restaurant. Some people have praised the waiter's actions because he took offense at overhearing the first party say "special needs kids should be kept in special places." He called them on their rudeness and refused to serve them. Others think he was wrong: his catering to the party with the disabled kid is indicative of a culture that embraces mediocrity and disability. What is the proper assessment of the remark made and the waiter's response? Should people with disabilities be kept from public view?

    Tags: Ayn Rand, Benevolence, Children, Disability, Egoism, Ethics, Individualism, Parenting, Respect, Rights, Self-Interest

  • Q&A: Being Someone's Extramarital Affair: 24 Mar 2013, Question 1
  • Question: Is it wrong to have a romantic relationship with a married person? In Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged, Dagny Taggart had an affair with Hank Rearden, knowing that he was married. How should those actions be judged in real life? Clearly, Hank's cheating was dishonest and wrong. Was Dagny wrong to pursue the affair? What should she have done instead? Or, imagine that Dagny didn't know that Hank was married until after they'd slept together. What should she have done in that case upon finding out the truth? Should she stop the affair? Should she inform the wife about the cheating? Should she apologize to the wife? Also, if your answer is different than Dagny's, how do you reconcile that?

    Tags: Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Character, Honesty, Infidelity, Integrity, Moral Wrongs, Relationships, Romance, Sex

  • Interview: Chris Mortensen on Ayn Rand and the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged: 20 Feb 2013
  • Summary: Chris Mortenson directed the excellent documentary, Ayn Rand and the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged. How did that project get started? What was required to make it a reality? How was it received? What's next?

    If you haven't yet seen the documentary... don't delay! It's available on NetFlix (streaming and DVD) and Amazon (streaming and DVD). If you enjoy the documentary, be sure to pick up the new book with the full text of the interviews, including much material that wasn't included in the documentary. That's available in paperback or for kindle.

    Tags: Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Film, Literature, Objectivism

  • Q&A: The Proper Place of Women: 11 Mar 2012, Question 2
  • Question: Are women subservient to men in Objectivism like in Christianity? The Bible and Christians teach that God made women to be subservient to men and not to be their leader. Ayn Rand seems to think that women are naturally subservient to men and should not be their leader. Aside from the appeal to God, what's the difference?

    Tags: Ayn Rand, Christianity, Ethics, Gender, Masculinity/Femininity, Objectivism, Psychology, Religion, Sex

  • Q&A: Ayn Rand's View of Women: 11 Mar 2012, Question 1
  • Question: Did Ayn Rand regard women as inferior to men? I admire Ayn Rand, and I've used her philosophy in my business and personal life, but I disagree with her view of women. In her article "About a Woman President," Ayn Rand said that "For a woman qua woman, the essence of femininity is hero-worship – the desire to look up to man. 'To look up' does not mean dependence, obedience or anything implying inferiority." Yet her view seems to imply inferiority in practice: Rand says that no woman should aspire to be U.S. President because that would put her in the psychologically unbearable position of not having any man to look up to. So, does Rand's view imply that women are inferior to men? What is the factual basis of her view, if any? Do you agree with her?

    Tags: Ayn Rand, Career, Ethics, Gender, Government, Independence, Objectivism, Psychology, Rationality, Sex

  • 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

  • Q&A: Ayn Rand's Alleged Admiration for William Hickman: 9 Oct 2011, Question 1
  • Question: Did Ayn Rand draw inspiration from the serial-killer William Hickman? I ask due to this article by Mark Ames on Alternet: "Ayn Rand, Hugely Popular Author and Inspiration to Right-Wing Leaders, Was a Big Admirer of Serial Killer." According to the article, Rand idolized the serial killer William Hickman and used him as inspiration for the leads male characters in her books, notably Howard Roark. Also, Rand is said to seek an environment in which sociopaths like Hickman can thrive. Are these claims true or not? If so, would they affect the validity of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism?

    Tags: Ayn Rand, Ethics, Literature, Philosophy, Psychology

  • Q&A: Real Life Evil: 3 Jul 2011, Question 3
  • Question: Are people in real life as evil as in Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged? In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand presents almost every bad person as very evil. I understand the purpose of that in the novel, but are their equivalents in real life (meaning the legislators passing similar laws nowadays) as evil as that – or are some of them just misguided or even stupid? In other words, do real-life people act on the death premise and hate the good for being the good? I just can't imagine that. Am I being too optimistic?

    Tags: Activism, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Ethics, Evil, Judgment, Justice, Objectivism, Sanction

  • Q&A: Imitating the 'Rape' Scene in The Fountainhead: 29 May 2011, Question 4
  • Question: Should a man ever act in real life as Howard Roark did in his first sexual encounter with Dominique? In your 24 April 2011 webcast, you said that a person should not act as Howard Roark did in the "rape" scene in The Fountainhead, implying it would be immoral. Could you explain why? Is the problem that you cannot know for certain what the woman wants? I've slept with a few women and only once have I ever been 100% certain that she wanted it that way and so I took it without any real permission and I was right. She even told me later she wouldn't have wanted it any other way. I understand it is very dangerous to say to guys, "Hey, its okay to do this!" because most people are idiots, but wouldn't there be rare real-life cases in which a man would be right to act like Roark did?

    Tags: Ayn Rand, Crime, Ethics, Literature, The Fountainhead

  • Q&A: Francisco's Slap of Dagny: 29 May 2011, Question 3
  • Question: Was Francisco justified in slapping Dagny? In their teenage years, when Dagny asked Francisco whether she should try to get D's in order to gain popularity in school, Francisco slapped her. I understand what he meant by the "unspeakable" thing that she said. But couldn't have he talked it over with her instead of slapping her – and shouldn't he have done so? Why does he use physical violence – and why does Dagny not just accept but relish in it?

    Tags: Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Ethics, Literature, Relationships, Rights, Romance

  • Q&A: Growing Out of Ayn Rand: 15 May 2011, Question 5
  • Question: What do people mean when they say "I liked Ayn Rand's ideas, but then I grew up"? On several occasions, I have discussed Rand's ideas with others. They have admitted to reading Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead when a teenager. They claim that they liked or even agreed with her ideas back then. "But, now I've grown up." I guess that is supposed to embarrass me since I am in my mid-40's. It doesn't. But I am left wondering, what is going on in their heads? Are they just jaded? Do they think life naturally leads to pragmatism or an acceptance of evil?

    Tags: Ayn Rand, Communication, Life, Objectivism, Philosophy

  • Q&A: Promoting Objectivism: 24 Apr 2011, Question 5
  • Question: How should one promote Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism? What are some right and wrong ways to do that? What are some good methods and target audiences?

    Tags: Activism, Ayn Rand, Culture, Objectivism, Sanction

  • Q&A: Review of the Movie Atlas Shrugged, Part 1: 17 Apr 2011, Question 1
  • Question: What did you think of the movie Atlas Shrugged, Part 1?

    Tags: Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Film

  • Q&A: Criticisms of Objectivism: 3 Apr 2011, Question 5
  • Question: What do you think about Objectivism and the Corruption of Rationality: A Critique of Ayn Rand's Epistemology by Scott Ryan? I came across the book on Amazon, and I was wondering if it's worth reading. Would it change my view about Objectivism?

    Tags: Ayn Rand, Objectivism, Philosophy

  • Q&A: Recommending the Upcoming Atlas Shrugged Movie: 20 Mar 2011, Question 5
  • Question: Assuming the Atlas Shrugged movie turns out to be decent, would it be immoral to recommend it to others since the movie is backed by a trustee of The Atlas Society?

    Tags: Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Film, Sanction

  • 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


    Share This Page