Week 1, Week 2, and both weeks of General Session options are available. Attend up to fifteen general sessions plus the evening July 6 panel with one convenient registration. (Note: the July 7 Academic Panel and the July 10 ARI presentation are both free.)
Ayn Rand's Philosophic Achievement
For the centenary of Ayn Rand's birth, these two lectures take stock of and summarize her immense achievement and philosophic legacy: the philosophy of Objectivism. Dr. Binswanger singles out for discussion six pivotal breakthroughs that form the core of Objectivism. Then he identifies the overarching conception that integrates these breakthroughs. The lectures include an analysis of Ayn Rand's philosophic methodology, the means by which she succeeded in solving the philosophic problems that have grippedand stultifiedphilosophy for millennia. Placing Objectivism in historical perspective, Dr. Binswanger presents Ayn Rand's philosophic achievement as the completion of the work of Aristotle. (These lectures are based on Dr. Binswanger's article by the same title which appeared in 1982 in his publication The Objectivist Forum.)
Sunday, July 3, 2005; 10:15-11:45 AM
Monday, July 4, 2005; 10:15-11:45 AM
Consciousness: Foundations of a Rational Theory
Consciousness is the faculty of awareness, of perceiving that which exists. For an individual to live rationally and be in control of his life, he must understand his mindwhich means understanding what kind of phenomenon one's consciousness is, how it works and what are its cognitive requirements. But both traditional philosophies of mindmysticism and materialismrender such understanding impossible. What is needed is a theory of consciousness based on Objectivism, a theory which treats consciousness as a natural, biological phenomenon.
This lecture presents the opening, foundational section of Dr. Binswanger's future book on consciousness. Since the book is addressed to a general audience, this lecture does not presuppose any prior knowledge of Objectivism. Topics covered include: the axioms of existence and consciousness, self-evidency, the Primacy of Existence, consciousness as an active process.
Sunday, July 10, 2005; 10:15-11:45 AM
[4/29/05: This lecture by Dr. Binswanger, and the one by Mr. Schwartz on July 9, will replace the two-part lecture that was to be given by Mary Ann Sures. We are sorry to report that Mary Ann Sures has decided not to participate in the conference; her recent illness interrupted her schedule and she does not think she would be able to complete her preparation work. We are happy to say that she is feeling much better and hopes to resume her other work soon.]
The Neo-ConservativesFriends or Foes?
Neo-conservatives are widely credited with influencing President Bush's foreign policy. Indeed, their arguments often sound good: they certainly appear to be ardently in favor of American self-defense. They take ideas seriously, represent themselves as pro-capitalist and oppose much of what the Left stands for. And in the decades since the Reagan Administration, Neo-conservatives have become influential and well respected. But who exactly are they? Do they have a philosophy? Does their influence extend beyond foreign policy to domestic issues?
In this lecture Dr. Brook will trace the ideological origins of Neo-conservative thought and explain the ideas that have shaped the Neo-conservative approach to everything from the "War on Terrorism" to the welfare state to the role of religion in politics.
Neo-conservatism, Dr. Brook will argue, is an enemy to rational philosophy and its increasing influence in Washington and on American culture will lead to political suicide for America.
Sunday, July 3, 2005; 1:45-3:15 PM
Creationism in Camouflage: The "Intelligent Design" Deception
For decades creationists have sought to replace evolution with the Book of Genesis. But defenders of evolution have consistently prevailed in the schools and the courts of law. This struggle for intellectual survival has led to the evolution of a new "species" of creationist, better adapted to its inhospitable environment. The new Creationism goes by the name of "Intelligent Design" and poses a greater danger than old-style Creationism. In this talk Dr. Lockitch will examine the Intelligent Design movement focusing on its similarities and differences with standard creationism. By hiding its religious nature in a cloak of pseudo-science, the movement seeks to make itself more palatable to intellectuals and the general public. And because the collapse of philosophy has left today's academicsincluding the most passionate and vocal defenders of evolutionincapable of answering its most fundamental arguments, the doors of our colleges and schools are ominously open to primitive mysticism masquerading as science.
Sunday, July 3, 2005; 8:00-9:30 PM
How "Activist" Should Judges Be?: Objectivity in Judicial Decisions
Charges of judicial activism and politicized judging have increased dramatically in recent decades. The stakes of such disputes are momentous. For even the best-designed laws cannot protect individuals' rights if those laws are not properly interpreted when brought before judges. But what is improper judicial activism? How should judges interpret the law?
This lecture will examine several competing answers to these questions, such as theories espousing adherence to original intent, textualism, values and popular sovereignty. We will identify the pivotal philosophical premises beneath each theory and the practical implications of its employment. Drawing on our critique of these views, we will also consider: What should we want in a judge? What is his proper role? What ends should he be most concerned to uphold? If we seek the rule of law (as opposed to the rule of men), what does that ideal amount to in this context, given that a nation's laws must be man-made and man-applied?
Wednesday, July 6, 2005; 10:15-11:45 AM
Ayn Rand's Unique and Enduring Contributions to Literature
There is nothing like an Ayn Rand novel. Because of her unique understanding of the nature of human life and the principles governing its depiction in art, she is able to dramatizein a stylized universepowerful conflicts that actually matter and make sense. The philosophical confusions and esthetic lapses that undercut other writers (including the greatest of those writers) give readers the problem of dealing with distracting inconsistencies. The impact of Ayn Rand's work, by contrast, is continuous, undiluted and irresistible. Her technique of "writing in tiers," moreover, offers the greatest rewards to the readers with the most active minds.
Drawing on the full range of Ayn Rand's work in fiction (including her earliest ideas, her writings about literature and the post-Atlas novels she planned), this lecture will show how she takes readers into her world, keeps them thereand makes them wish never to leave.
Thursday, July 7, 2005; 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Ideas and the Fall of Rome
For centuries men have confronted a false alternative of enormous historical import: religious mysticism versus philosophical skepticism. Greece once faced this dilemma; in the end her philosophers turned to skepticism, and her population to orthodox religion. Without a rational alternative, religious certainty beat skepticism hands-down. America is now locked in such a struggle, between the religious Right and the nihilistic Left. This lecture will use the example of the later Roman Empire to demonstrate the outcome of a similar struggle, and its consequences, on a world-scale. It was in the third century A.D. that the last gasp of pagan Greek philosophyNeo-Platonic mysticismcleared the way for the intellectual and moral takeover by Augustinian Christianity. It was the default of the philosophersand their grant of credence to the mysticsthat set the foundations for the Dark Ages.
Thursday, July 7, 2005; 1:45-3:15 PM
Notes on the Epistemology of Altruism
The vices of altruism, like the virtues of egoism, lie fundamentally in epistemology. Taken from Mr. Schwartz's book-in-progress, this talk presents various elements of altruism that reflect its primacy-of-consciousness philosophy. As part of that presentation, Mr. Schwartz discusses how the rejection of reason is not simply a precondition of the altruist's demand for sacrifice, but the very essence of that demand. Other topics include: altruism's range-of-the-moment mentality; altruism's hostility toward the principle of objectivity; the metaphysical link between altruism and collectivism; and altruism's view of the role of the mind in human existence.
Saturday, July 9, 2005; 10:15-11:45 AM
[4/29/05: This lecture by Mr. Schwartz, and the one by Dr. Binswanger on July 10, will replace the two-part lecture that was to be given by Mary Ann Sures. We are sorry to report that Mary Ann Sures has decided not to participate in the conference; her recent illness interrupted her schedule and she does not think she would be able to complete her preparation work. We are happy to say that she is feeling much better and hopes to resume her other work soon.]
Reclaiming Education (Part 2)
In her 1998 lecture "Reclaiming Education," Lisa VanDamme presented her approach to education, based on her experiences as a home-school teacher. Now, seven years later, Mrs. VanDamme is the owner and director of a private elementary and junior high school that was founded on this unique approach. In this lecture she will discuss some of her principles of education and will illustrate them with inspirational stories from her well-respected school. She will explain, among other things: how to promote conceptual understanding as opposed to rote memorization, why she describes hers as a "no gimmicks" school, how to teach children a deep appreciation of great literature, and the incremental process by which teachers can train students to be good writers (and therefore clear thinkers).
Saturday, July 9, 2005; 1:45-3:15
Ayn Rand's Home Atmosphere: Her Family in Russia
For more than 10 years after she left Russia, Ayn Rand corresponded regularly with her family, whom she loved and who were left behind. What was the home atmosphere in which she was born and spent her childhood and teenage years? Dr. Schein will present each member of Miss Rand's family as an individual who was important to her and whom you might like to meet. What were each person's interests, aspirations and convictions? What activities filled their daily lives? What relationship did each of them have with Miss Rand? What was their attitude toward her person, her work and the events of her new life in America? In this talk you will discover each family member's personality and character traits. Dr. Schein will also allow you to hear these individuals speak for themselves by reading excerpts from the correspondence they wrote to Miss Rand.
Saturday, July 9, 2005; 8-9:30
The Rise and Fall of Ancient Greek Justice: Homer to the Sermon on the Mount
The traditional ancient Greek conception of justice is best captured by the idea of helping friends and harming enemies. This conception of justice is improved by later thinkers (like Aeschylus), reaches its climax in Aristotle's moral philosophyand is utterly rejected by Jesus, who told the pagan world: "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you." This lecture surveys this history, covering (in addition to the above mentioned figures): the Sophists, Aristophanes, Euripides and Plato. Throughout, Dr. Mayhew will underscore the contemporary relevance of the clash between Greek justice and the Christian alternative.
Monday, July 11, 2005; 8-9:30 PM
Ayn Rand and the History of Ethics
Can reason prescribe the ends human beings should seek in life, as well as the means to those ends? And what role does reason have to play in motivating us to act? In one form or another, these have been central questions throughout the history of ethics. They are also central questions in Ayn Rand's Objectivist ethics, questions on which she offered distinctive and vitally important answers. Dr. Wright's lecture will compare and contrast Ayn Rand's views in these areas with some of the most influential historical views, focusing mainly on Aristotle, Hume and Kant. The aim of the lecture will be both to highlight some of Ayn Rand's most significant contributions to the field of ethics and to explore her views concerning the role of reason in human life.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005; 10:15-11:45 AM
Man's Rights: Ayn Rand's Historic Contribution
In his 1689 Two Treatises of Government, John Locke explicitly connects the concept of man's rights to the evil of the initiation of force. With this identification, the long struggle to discover and identify man's rights came to an end. But at that time the struggle to identify the deeper reasons for why man has rights and why survival qua man requires that they be recognized, had barely begun. Andtragicallythrough the 18th century such efforts were unsuccessful.
Dr. Ridpath will examine these 18th-century failings, the 19th-century dismissal of man's rights and the 20th-century perversion of the concept of rights. With this background in mind, we will then have the context for understanding, in full, the historic contribution of Ayn Rand. We will see that only with what she has discovered will men be able to fully defend man's rightsthe concept on which any possibility of a future society proper to man's nature must be built.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005; 10:15-11:45 AM
Capitalism's Economist: The Life and Doctrines of Jean-Baptiste Say
Richard M. Salsman
In the field of economics, Jean-Baptiste Say (1767-1832) is history's greatest champion of laissez-faire capitalism. Deriving economic laws by induction, Say eschewed the rationalism of later pro-capitalist economists. Stressing reason's prime role in economic analysis, wealth-creation and profit-making, Say rejected the labor theory of value upon which "exploitation" theories were based. Say also pioneered utility analysis, laid the ground for rational price theory and emphasized the productive role of entrepreneurs. His most enduring legacySay's Lawstressed the primacy of production; the law's many corollaries form the foundation of a consistent economic case for laissez-faire capitalism. Both a product of and contributor to the French Enlightenment, Say courageously advocated limited, republican government while simultaneously facing persecution and censorship by Napoleon. Champions of capitalism today can find no better hero in the history of pro-capitalist economic thought than Sayand no better guide for refuting the innumerable perversities embedded in contemporary economics.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005; 1:45-3:15 PM