OCON 2006 Report

 Posted by on 10 July 2006 at 2:06 pm  Uncategorized
Jul 102006

My 2006 OCON has finally come to a close.

The end was a bit delayed for me by the extra day-and-a-half Teaching Workshop for graduate students. That was definitely the extreme highlight of the conference for me: I learned oodles that will be so helpful for teaching philosophy, points that I would not and could not learn from regular academics, points with which I was struggling on my own. (Thank you, ARI!)

Most of the lectures and courses were good to great. However, I’d like to particularly highlight a few that were beyond fantastic.

Without a doubt, my award for Best OCON 2006 Lecture goes to C. Bradley Thompson for his general lecture “Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea.” Here’s the abstract:

During the 1930s a group of young Trotskyists at Brooklyn College advocated Marxism and worldwide communist revolution. Today, those same men dominate conservative political thought and politics. Known as the neoconservatives, they control the leading conservative think-tanks and magazines, they hold prestigious university positions and they are credited with defining Republican domestic and foreign policy, from Reagan to Bush.

But just who are the neoconservatives and what do they really stand for? At first blush, the “neocons” are impressive: they take ideas seriously, they’re pro-American, they’re critics of the New Left and they support capitalism. In this lecture, Dr. Thompson will examine the ideological origins of neoconservatism, the neocons’ intellectual method and their plan for governing America. He will demonstrate that the neoconservatives are altruists in ethics and pragmatists in politics and are, therefore, a threat to a free society.

I simply cannot recommend the lecture highly enough: you will learn more about the nature and extent of the conservative threat to America than you thought possible in the span of a mere 90 minutes.

Tara Smith’s general lecture “Unborrowed Vision: The Virtue of Independence” wins my honorable mention. I particularly enjoyed its perfect blend of the theory and practice of this virtue.

As for the optional courses, I most enjoyed Yaron Brook’s course “The Rise of Totalitarian Islam” and Robert Mayhew’s course on Descartes’s Meditations. However, John Lewis’ The Greco-Persian Wars was an intellectual delight from beginning to end. And I learned so much about literary analysis from Dina Schein’s Savoring Ayn Rand’s Red Pawn. Paul also had high praise for Greg Salmieri’s Objectivist Epistemology in Outline, but I won’t be able to hear that until the recording I ordered arrives this fall. With rare exception, I thought my optional courses were exceptionally good this year. Despite taking copious notes, I decided to order recordings of all of the above.

Overall, I had a fantastic time at OCON — and I’m really looking forward to Telluride next year!

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