NPR: Marking the Ayn Rand Centennial

In the “Book Bag” segment of the February 2 edition of NPR’s show “Day to Day”, Nick Gillespie, editor of Reason magazine, presents his thoughts on Ayn Rand’s legacy in American culture. Gillespie notes many of the places that Rand has popped up in culture from The Simpsons to Alan Greenspan. Gillespie also discusses what he calls her “disheartening personal life”.
Listen to the audio commentary

Assessing Ayn Rand at the Philadelphia Inquirer

Writing for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Carlin Romano takes a stab at assessing Ayn Rand’s life and influence. Characteristically focusing on some of the more lurid details of her personal life, Romano does manage to give an account of Rand’s life that is generally balanced and on target, calling her a “champion of individualism, rational self-interest and atheism.” Romano also mentions the centenary events planned by both The Objectivist Center and the Ayn Rand Insitute. Romano ends by citing the increasing influence of Rand in the academy.
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Summer Seminar Request for Proposals

The Objectivist Center is soliciting proposals for lectures, courses, workshops, artistic performances, exhibits and other program elements for the 16th annual Summer Seminar. The Seminar is planned for early July 2005 at a location to be determined in the Eastern or Midwestern USA.
The Request for Proposal, recently posted to the TOC website, outlines the guidelines for submitting a proposal.

Defending Price-Gouging

The St. Petersburg Times quoted Edward Hudgins, the Washington Director for The Objectivist Center, defending price gouging during emergencies.
“Gouging gets a bad rap, economists argue” is mainly focused on the economic arguments against anti-gouging laws, reporting the views of many economists who argue that these laws lead to shortages and delays in recover. But it also includes several advocates of a moral defense of free-markets. Hudgins is quoted as asking “Why should one hurricane victim by prevented from paying more money for better or faster service, just because another hurricane victim can’t or won’t”?
Read the full article.

'Explaining Postmodernism' by Stephen Hicks

Objectivist scholar Stephen Hicks has published his long-awaited book on the intellectual causes of postmodernism. And it was well-worth the wait.
Explaining Postmodernism clearly presents the history of the ideas that gave rise to the contemporary movement characterised by nihilism, skepticism, and relativism.
The primary thesis of Dr. Hicks’ book is that “the failure of epistemology made postmodernism possible, and the failure of socialism made postmodernism necessary.” The history of modern epistemology has, by and large, failed at defending reason as one’s means of knowing the world. Similarly, the failure of socialism, both economically and morally, lead to, as Hicks calls it, a “crisis of faith” among many in the Left.
In order to maintain their belief in the superiority of socialism over capitalism, many theorists used the failures of epistemology to eschew reason, reality, and truth. One now no longer had to deal with the evidence that shows the superiority of capitalism. Thus, we ended up with the nihilistic, skeptical, and relativistic Postmodernism dominating much of academia and the political left.
I highly recommend Explaining Postmodernism to anyone ? philosopher or not ? with an interest in the history of ideas or an interest in understanding postmodernism. It is available at many bookstores and at

Update on TOC Distance-Learning: Objectivism from the Source

The Objectivist Center website has more information available on its distance learning course: “Objectivism from the Source.”
Objectivism from the Source will teaching a systematic understanding of Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism, through a careful reading of core texts in which Rand explicates and applies it.
It will meet every Wednesday, 6:30 – 9 pm ET from September 15 to December 1, 2004 by a toll-free teleconference. (The day and time are subject to change) The course tuition is $180 ($85 for full-time students). This fee doesn’t include costs of books or materials. There is, however, no charge for the telephone call. A limited number of scholarships are available.
It is open to students, activists, scholars, and club members who want to deepen their grasp of the key elements of the philosophy. The application deadline is August 23. Application Information.

Hudgins on Special Interests

Ed Hudgins, TOC Washington Director, decries the presidential candidates on their hypocrisy in attacking special interests. In his latest Report from the Front, Hudgins writes:

All of this wailing and gnashing of teeth over special interests evades the fundamental premise of a free society, the premise best articulated by Ayn Rand: ?There is no conflict of interests of men who do not desire the unearned, who do not make sacrifices or accept them, who deal with one another as traders, giving value for value.? When governments stick to their proper functions of protecting the life, liberty and property of citizens, no conflicts arise. All individuals who seek rational goals benefit by living under objective laws that preserve their rights.
Special interest groups that benefit at the expense of others are created by government when it uses force to limit the private use of property, private contracts between consenting individuals, or private behavior that does not violate the equal rights of others. In such a system, raw political power rather than production and trade become the coin of the realm. Politicians compete to see who can promise one group more of another group?s money or freedom while denouncing their victims as ?special interests.?

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Two New Objectivist Seminars

The Objectivist Center has announced plans for two new seminars. The first is the Graduate Seminar in Objectivist Philosophy and Method to be held at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY, July 31- Aug 7, 2004. Free of charge to qualified participants and lead by TOC’s David Kelley, the Graduate Seminar is a special week of lectures, discussions, and workshops designed for graduate students, junior faculty, and post-doctoral scholars of philosophy and related fields.
The second is the Distance-Learning Seminar in Objectivism to be offered Fall 2004. Taught by William Thomas and meeting by teleconference, the distance-learning seminar will teach a systematic understanding of Objectivism and will be open to students, scholars, teachers, speakers, activists, and club leaders who want to deepen their grasp of the key elements of the philosophy.
For more information on these seminars and other scholarship programs at TOC, visit TOC’s Objectivist Studies web site. Applications will be posted soon.