Posted by on 15 January 2007 at 6:13 am  Recommendations
Jan 152007

Hooray! Brad Thompson’s excellent 2006 OCON lecture “Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea” is now available from the Ayn Rand Bookstore. Here’s the description:

This lecture examines the intellectual history of the neoconservatives and their plan for governing America. Dr. Thompson introduces the neocons by tracing the evolution of their thought from their youthful Trotskyism in the 1930s to their anticommunist liberalism in the 1940s and ’50s and finally to their development of a new kind of conservatism in the 1960s and beyond.

The neoconservatives are generally regarded to be the most intellectually impressive faction of the post-war intellectual Right: they seem to take ideas seriously, they seem to be principled, they seem to support the principles of the American founding, and they seem to support capitalism. But, as Dr. Thompson demonstrates, behind their rhetorical facade, the neocons scorn principles, they scorn morality, they scorn capitalism and, ultimately, they scorn America. Despite their pro-American rhetoric and their appeals to, and defense of, America’s ideals and institutions, Dr. Thompson demonstrates that the neoconservatives advocate singularly un-American principles: mysticism over reason, altruism over egoism, duty over rights, collectivism over individualism, socialism over capitalism, war and empire over peace and trade.

Dr. Thompson’s lecture focuses on the neocons’ attempt to transform the Republican Party and the conservative intellectual movement into a permanent ruling majority, their pragmatic philosophical method, their advocacy of a conservative welfare state, and their attempt to turn America toward a form of Platonic republicanism. Ultimately, he argues, the neoconservatives are a threat to a free society.

Audio CD; 2-CD Set: $21.95 (90 min., with Q & A)

Also, someone recently pointed me to this conservative attack on Brad Thompson’s excellent article “The Decline and Fall of American Conservatism” from The Objective Standard. The critic begins with some serious confusions about Thompson’s basic position, plus some Divine Command Theory: “As always with libertarians, he offers a subjective philosophy rather than an objective set of standards for behavior, which is what morality requires and is why morality is dependent on God.” More inanity ensues. And to top it off, the post ends with the following: “For all his talk of conservatism, there is nothing of America or its Judeo-Christian/Western inheritance that his egoism would conserve. This kind of extreme selfishness is the rot that has destroyed the rest of the West and conservatives do well not just to reject it but to fight against it tooth and nail.”

Well, at least he knows who his enemies are.


 Posted by on 18 August 2006 at 8:52 am  Announcements, Recommendations
Aug 182006

It’s Darryl-Wright-O-Rama at the Ayn Rand Bookstore.

Dr. Wright’s very fascinating — albeit dense and technical — lecture from the 2005 OCON has just been released:

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? This has been a central question in the history of ethics, and it is also a central question in Ayn Rand’s Objectivist ethics. This lecture explores Ayn Rand’s view on this question, bringing out its distinctive and important features and contrasting it with some of the most influential historical views, including those of Aristotle and Hume.

100 min., with Q & A — Audio CD; 2-CD set: $23.95 or Audiocassette: $19.95

This lecture is fascinating, but also quite dense and technical. So if you don’t have some familiarity with the history of ethics, including the standard categories of “consequentialism” and “deontology” and the standard questions about ultimate values, then you’ll probably have trouble understanding it. However, if you have those meta-ethical basics, you’re sure to find it worthwhile.

The lecture does have a particularly interesting discussion of how to think of Ayn Rand’s metaethics inductively. That’s helped me understand it better, since before it always had something of the feel of a floating abstraction.

Dr. Wright’s other lecture courses are also on sale — 50% off!

Bonus clearance sale: 50% discounts on four other Darryl Wright titles!

Offer good through October 1, 2006

Reason And Freedom

This course extensively analyzes Ayn Rand’s groundbreaking principle that the mind cannot function under coercion–and uses this principle as a case study in philosophic methodology.

Audiocassette; 6-tape set; 7 hrs., with Q & A — Regular price: $79.95, Sale price: $39.95

Advanced Topics In Ethics

This course develops new perspectives on key topics in the Objectivist ethics. It focuses on two broad issues: the significance of the fact that everyone acts on some philosophy, and the dependence of the concept “value” on the concept “life.”

Audiocassette; 5-tape set; 6 hrs., with Q & A — Regular price: $68.95, Sale price: $34.45

The Philosophy of Motivation

Is achieving a value equivalent to avoiding a disvalue? Is pursuing life the same as avoiding death? This course, given by Dr. Wright, explores Ayn Rand’s important distinction between “motivation by love” and “motivation by fear.”

Audiocassette; 6-tape set; 7 hrs., with Q & A — Regular price: $79.95, Sale price: $39.95

Modern Political Philosophy: Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau

This course contrasts Hobbes’ and Rousseau’s arguments for political absolutism with Locke’s intransigent defense of individual rights and limited government. Dr. Wright corrects standard misinterpretations (such as the assertion that Hobbes’ theory is egoistic and pro-capitalist, or that Locke endorses altruistic limitation on property rights), and compares their views with those of Ayn Rand.

Audiocassette; 6-tape set; 7 hrs.,with Q&A — Regular price: $69.95, Sale price: $34.95

I can’t say anything about Modern Political Philosophy: Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau, since I haven’t listened to it yet. However, the other three courses are excellent. I would particularly recommend Advanced Topics In Ethics first and foremost, then Reason And Freedom, then The Philosophy of Motivation.

Two Lecture Courses on Sale

 Posted by on 3 August 2006 at 6:04 am  Announcements, Recommendations
Aug 032006

The Ayn Rand Bookstore is selling two of Leonard Peikoff’s excellent lecture courses at a substantial discount:

Induction in Physics and Philosophy
By Leonard Peikoff

These historic lectures present, for the first time, the solution to the problem of induction–and thereby complete, in every essential respect, the validation of reason …

(13 hrs., 42 min., across 7 sessions, with Q & A)

Audio CD; 14-CD set:
Regular price: $210
Sale price: $145

Audiocassette; 12-tape set:
Regular price: $180
Sale price: $125

The Dim Hypothesis: The Epistemological Mechanics by which Philosophy Shapes Society
By Leonard Peikoff

This 15-session course–part lecture, part discussion–was presented live to a worldwide audience by phone and on the Internet. It is based on Dr. Peikoff’s The DIM Hypothesis (book-in-progress), in which he looks at the role of integration in the culture and in practical life …

(22 hrs., 9 min., with Q & A)

Audio CD; 30-CD set:
Regular price: $310
Sale price: $215

Audiocassette; 15-tape set:
Regular price: $265
Sale price: $185

The sale ends on October 1st.

Virtue is Expensive

 Posted by on 23 May 2006 at 6:01 am  Recommendations
May 232006

Tara Smith’s new book, Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist, seems to be selling reasonably well, despite its painful price tag of about $80. The Ayn Rand Bookstore has sold out of copies for the moment. And its sales rank on Amazon has been amazingly strong for a book of that price for the past few days I’ve sampled: #14,903 on Saturday, #35,080 on Sunday, and #65,420 on Monday.

I haven’t had a chance to read it in full yet — and I don’t expect to do so for a few weeks. However, both Paul and I read the chapter on integrity for the 1FROG meeting this past Saturday. I thought it exceedingly well done. It was clearly and engagingly written with a good presentation of the core ideas, plus more fascinating little tidbits than I could count. As I was reading, the thought that stood out most clearly in my mind was that the chapter didn’t just illuminate the nature, justification, and requirements of integrity in an abstract way. If a person reads it with an eye toward his own life, i.e. without sinking into detached rationalism, the chapter will help him practice the virtue of integrity better in countless ways in his own life. I expect similar delights from the rest of the book.

For folks unable to afford the present hefty price tag, you might request that your (university) library purchase the book. Also, I strongly suspect a cheaper paperback to appear within the next year or so. However, if you can afford the current price tag, the book looks to be worth it.

An Update on Andy Bernstein Lectures

 Posted by on 23 February 2006 at 2:58 pm  Announcements, Recommendations
Feb 232006

As an update on this inquiry about the lectures by Andy Bernstein on sale at the Ayn Rand Bookstore this month, I thought I should mention that Andy was kind enough to reply to my inquiry. And based upon his recommendation, I’ve decided to buy:

  • Kantianism vs. Objectivism in The Fountainhead — Sale Price: $14.36 (List Price: $17.95)
  • Ayn Rand’s Characters as Philosophic Archetypes (Parts 1 & 2) — Sale Price: $88.74 (List Price: $147.90)
  • Atlas Shrugged as the Culmination of the Romantic Novel — Sale Price: $14.36 (List Price: $17.95)
  • Philosophic and Literary Integration in Atlas Shrugged — Sale Price: $63.67 (List Price: $90.95)

    (I saved over $90!)

    I’m looking forward to listening to them, although I’ll probably wait until I listen to The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. (I recently bought the unabridged audio books with my Audible subscription.) That might be a few months though, since I can’t afford to lose myself in the pleasure of listening to Ayn Rand novels when I’m utterly swamped by graduate school.

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