Archive for September, 2011

SAT Oct 15 - Ayn Rand vs. Alan Greenspan on Selfishness

WHEN:
SATURDAY, October 15, 2011 7:00 PM Arrival Time

TOPIC:
Ayn Rand vs. Alan Greenspan on Selfishness
Video of talk by Tibor R. Machan
Given at The Atlas Society Free Minds 2010 Summer Seminar

ABSTRACT:
Alan Greenspan’s reference to “self-interest” is radically different from Ayn Rand’s.  He said, before Congress, that “Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself especially, are in a state of shocked disbelief.”  The latter reference to self-interest is not, however, to Rand’s idea, which is, “whatever will enhance the objective well being of an agent” but to the neo-classical economist’s idea of homo economicus, namely that everyone is always doing whatever he or she wants to do, provided no one else interferes.

In contrast to this subjectivist idea of self-interest, Rand’s calls to mind the exchange between Crito and Socrates in one of Plato’s dialogues, the Phaedo, where Crito asks, “When you are gone, Socrates, how can we best act to please you?”  and Socrates replies: “Just follow my old recipe, my friend: do yourselves concern yourselves with your own true self-interest; then you will oblige me, and nine and yourself too.”  This is pretty much the gist of Ayn Rand’s ethics of Objectivism: Do what in fact advances our best interest as the individual human being you are!

As already noted, Greenspan, in contrast, was talking about the contemporary idea of homo economicus prominent among neo-classical economists.  Rand’s idea of self-interest or selfishness, as that of Socrates, requires that one adhere to strict standards of conduct while the latter requires no standards for one to follow but only to choose to do whatever one prefers or wants to do.

BIO:
Tibor R. Machan, Ph.D., is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution (Stanford University, CA).  He is professor emeritus of philosophy at Auburn University, and holds the R. C. Hoiles Endowed Chair in Business Ethics and Free Enterprise at the Argyros School of Business & Economics, Chapman University.  He lectures regularly, on political philosophy and business ethics, in Europe, Latin America, South Africa, and New Zealand and throughout the United States.

WHERE:
Jackie & Lyman Hazelton’s Home
480-516-3281
Use http://www.mapquest.com/ to get directions from your location.

QUESTIONS:
Jackie Hazelton
(c) 480-516-3281
(e) AZObjectivists_at_cox_dot_net

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TUE Oct 4 - FINAL Explore Atlas Shrugged Session 20

WHEN:
TUESDAY, October 4, 2011 7:00 PM Arrival Time

TOPIC:
Explore Atlas Shrugged Session 20
Podcasts and  discussion questions on Ayn Rand’s epic novel Atlas Shrugged
We will discuss the questions.

READINGS:
Atlas Shrugged, Part 3, Chapter 9 - Part 3, Chapter 10
Part 3: Chapter 9: The Generator
Part 3: Chapter 10: In the Name of the Best Within Us
Or:
Pages 1126-1168 in the larger Hardcover or Softcover
Pages 1035-1074 in the smaller Mass Market Paperback

AUTHOR:
http://www.exploreaynrand.com/1957/
These discussion questions and podcast were prepared by Diana Hsieh for ExploreAtlasShrugged.com for people interested in creating their own Atlas Shrugged Reading Groups, as well as for anyone wishing to study the novel in more depth. They may be freely used for the study and discussion of Atlas Shrugged, provided that this paragraph remains intact in any reproduction.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:
The listed page numbers are for the larger edition, softcover or hardback.

Part 3: Chapter 9: The Generator

Section 1: 1126-1133

* What is Dr. Stadler’s purpose and state of mind as he drives to Project X?  (1126-8)  What does he find at Project X?  What happens — and why?  (1128-33)

Section 2: 1133-1139

* What is the response of the looters to Galt’s exposure of the gun at the banquet?  What do they plan to do?  Why is that significant?  What does Dagny now understand about their motives?  (1133-6)
* What is the significance of Dagny’s response to the destruction of the Taggart Bridge?  How is that one last test for her?  (1137-8)

Section 3: 1139-1146

* What is the Ferris Persuader?  How does Galt react to its use on him?  How do the looters react?
* How does Galt respond to the breakdown of the Ferris Persuader?  How do the looters react?  (1139-46)
* Why does Jim Taggart collapse?  What does he understand about himself?  How do the other looters respond — and why?  (1145-6)

Whole Chapter

* What is the significance of the title of this chapter?

Part 3: Chapter 10: In the Name of the Best Within Us

Section 1: 1147-1160

* Why does Dagny confront the guard in the way that she does?  What choice does she offer him — and why? Why does she shoot him when he refuses to choose?  (1147-8)
* How do Dagny, Hank, Francisco, and Ragnar deal with the guards?  What is the significance of that?  What is the significance of the guards’ reactions to them?  (1147-54)
* Why does John Galt say that he had to be the one tortured?  How does that serve the strike?  (1155)
* Why were so many men of the valley willing to assault the State Science Institute to free John Galt?  Why does he mean so much to them?  Was that self-sacrifice?  (1157)

Section 2: 1160-1167

* What is Eddie Willers’ state of mind when the Comet stalls? What does he learn? (1160-7)
* Why does he refuse to join the wagon caravan?  What will happen to him?  Why does he suffer this end?  (1163-5)

Section 3: 1167-1168

* What will happen once the producers return to the world?  How will they re-establish America?  (1168)

Whole Chapter

* What is the significance of the title of this chapter?

Whole Part

* What is the significance of the title of this part?

Whole Book

* What are the most important themes of the novel? How were those conveyed by the events and characters?

WHERE:
480-516-3281
Use http://www.mapquest.com/ to get directions from your location.

QUESTIONS:
Jackie Hazelton
(c) 480-516-3281
(e) AZObjectivists_at_cox_dot_net

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SAT Sept 17 - The Rewriting of Ayn Rand’s Spoken Answers

WHEN:
SATURDAY, September 17, 2011 7:00 PM Arrival Time

TOPIC:
The Rewriting of Ayn Rand’s Spoken Answers
by Robert L. Campbell
From The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 2011 Issue 1

AUTHOR:
Robert Campbell , Ph.D., is a Professor in the Psychology Department at Clemson University.  He has been there since the summer of 1991; before that, he spent five and a half years at the IBM Research Division in Hawthorne, New York.  At IBM, Robert was a Human Factors specialist; at Clemson he specializes in Developmental and Cognitive Psychology.

OUTLINE FOR DISCUSSION:
I. Ayn Rand Answers (2005) is an edited book derived from Rand’s spoken answers to questions.
A. It’s the fifth in a series of six edited volumes of previously
unpublished material.
B. It’s the second among these edited by Mayhew (after
The Art of Non-Fiction.)

II. The original spoken questions and answers are available for more than half of the items in Ayn Rand Answers.
A. Therefore, much of Mayhew’s editing can be checked without getting past the gatekeepers at the Ayn Rand Archives.
B. I checked the originals for 201 out of the 370 items included in the Mayhew book.
C. I checked 92 additional answers that Mayhew chose not to include.

III. Items left out of Ayn Rand Answers.
A. Mayhew provided no reasons for leaving anything out.
B. A few omitted answers are genuinely uninteresting.
C. Mayhew used just one of several answers about her uncompleted writing projects.
D. He used no answers about the filming of Atlas Shrugged or about the departure of Nathaniel Branden.
E. He left off a number of answers about topics of genuine interest (the Pentagon Papers, Martin Anderson,
Thomas Szasz.)
F. He left out a few politically sensitive answers (homosexuality, the morality of taking amphetamines.)

IV. How Mayhew edited the items he kept.
A. “Most of the editing I did consisted of cutting and line-editing to bring the material closer to the level of conciseness, clarity, and smoothness appropriate to a written work.  Very little had to be cut owing to repetition.”
B. In fact, he rewrote virtually every answer, except for a very few that Rand had edited herself.  He didn’t tell his readers which ones Rand had edited.
C. Mayhew sometimes divided multi-section answers into separate items, providing new questions when necessary.
D. He rearranged parts of an answer internally.
E. He abridged many of her early 1960’s answers (when she tended to talk faster and produce longer responses) so they would read more like her later answers.
F. He corrected an occasional slip of the tongue without announcing this to his readers.
G. He put words into Rand’s mouth that she didn’t use on the occasion (”referent”) or that she never used (”the agent”, “the latter”, “owing to”.)
H. He or his transcriber (Mayhew does not say who transcribed the original recordings) occasionally mistranscribed her words (”red” for “wrecked”, “experimental whim” for “experimenter’s whim”.)

V. Mayhew somtines edited for philosophical correctness.
A. “Dr. Peikoff also wanted to limit [the book's] contents to those Q&A that he knew to be consistent with her explicit philosophy, and in some cases to have then edited accordingly.  I made this clear in my preface; I did not hide the fact that such editing was done.”
B. Ayn Rand Answers does not say when, why, or at whose request such editing was done.
C. Mayhew removed references or allusions to persons who had fallen out of favor (Nathaniel Branden, Allan Blumenthal, Beatrice Hessen.)
D. He removed issues or rhetoric apparently considered embarrassing (the effects of cigarette smoking on health, her equation of anarchism with communism, her favorite TV shows.)

VI. How Rand should be edited.
A. Mayhew imagines that he can edit Rand’s spoken words the way she would have.
B. She neither needed Mayhew’s help nor benefits from it.
C. Proper editing would eliminate the false starts and the hesitation pauses without notifying the reader.
D. It would correct grammer while notifying the reader.
E. It would correct slips of the tongue and obvious misspeaking while footnoting them.

VII. What should happen to the book?
A. The Estate of Ayn Rand should withdraw Mayhew’s book.
B. A more comprehensive, lightly edited book should replace it.
Such a book would be of much greater value to both the specialist and the general reader.

WHERE:
Jackie & Lyman Hazelton’s Home
2153 E. Alameda Dr., Tempe, AZ 85282
480-516-3281
Use http://www.mapquest.com/ to get directions from your location.

QUESTIONS:
Jackie Hazelton
(c) 480-516-3281
(e) AZObjectivists_at_cox_dot_net

RSVP:
Reply to this message to AZObjectivists_at_cox_dot_net or
Call Jackie Hazelton at 480-516-3281

BRING:
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