Objectivism: A Rational Philosophy for the Hero in Your Soul
Ayn Rand’s philosophical insights offer you freedom—not just political freedom someday, but spiritual freedom now: a life where everything you do is your own choice, guided by your own rational judgment in the pursuit of your own happiness.
Designed for students interested in Objectivism, the sessions highlight key aspects of Objectivism across five major areas of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, and aesthetics. It will enhance your appreciation of Ayn Rand's heroic view of life. (This five-part lecture series was presented by Atlas society staff member Alexander R. Cohen at the 2014 Atlas Summit.)
Living for Yourself | Part 1
To know what the best of any kind of thing is—be it the best knife, the best life, or the best philosophy—one needs to identify the purpose of that kind of thing. This lecture considers the purpose of a system of ethics and what you should look for in choosing one. It will explore what it means to value something, and in particular, what it means to regard your own life as your ultimate value.
Focusing on Reality | Part 2
In order to survive, flourish, and be happy in the world, we need to know what kinds of things we are dealing with and what they might do, so that we can choose our actions accordingly. That means we need entities to have fixed natures and predictable behaviors. But do they? And even if they do, can we know them? This lecture explores the fundamental nature of reality and of human knowledge.
Valuable Virtues | Part 3
Because a human being has a specific nature, there are certain values every one of us needs to pursue, and certain ways of pursuing them—the virtues—we all need to use. Some of these virtues are exercised primarily within oneself; some pertain essentially to one’s relationships with others. This lecture explores the nature of virtue and introduce the major Objectivist virtues. It indicates how virtues relate to survival, flourishing, and happiness. It will show that Objectivism ’s brand of egoism calls for offering others benefits rather than harms, and that it is a very demanding moral code.
Individual Rights | Part 4
Because of Objectivism ’s profound commitment to the individual, it has to approach political philosophy with radical questions: What makes living in a society valuable to an individual human being? And what foundational principles make for a society best suited to a good human life? In this llecture, Cohen explores these questions and the principles with which Objectivism responds to them: the principles of individual rights. He discusses the related issues of the need for government and for objective law.
Spiritual Fuel | Part 5
Some of the most important values are spiritual: they relate primarily to the needs of a person’s mind and emotions. Among these are art and friendship. This lecture will consider why a person focused on achieving his values in reality needs art, and why a person committed to self-interest has an interest in having friends.
Test your knowledge of Objectivism: take The Atlas Society's online " Basic Understanding of Objectivism Quiz. " The quiz asks you to assess a variety of claims as being true of what Objectivism holds or false. Read carefully: this is abstract philosophy, after all! Take the quiz now and get feedback from TAS experts.
Alexander R. Cohen, JD, MA, is an independent scholar and writer. He has taught Objectivism at the introductory level and at TAS’s Graduate Seminar, and he has lectured at the Atlas Summit (or its predecessor events) every year since 2006. He has also served as managing editor of the Business Rights Center. Cohen studied philosophy at the graduate level at the City University of New York, the University of Virginia, and the Atlas Society Graduate Seminar; before that, he received a bachelor’s in journalism from American University and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania.