Jun 302008

Here are some more highlights from the second day of the Ayn Rand Institute’s summer conference (a.k.a. OCON).

Lin Zinser on “Health-Care Activism: Saving the Life Savers,” Class 2 of 3:

Today, Lin discussed some strategies for successful activism, connecting those lessons to her own experience with FIRM. (Some of her stories would be very surprising to most people — in a good way.)

Robert Mayhew on “Thales and the Birth of Philosophy in Ancient Greece”:

This lecture was a fascinating discussion of the birth of philosophy, particularly the radical departure from primitive supernaturalism that began with Thales in ancient Greece. Thales inaugurated the study of philosophy as an explicit discipline on the basis of observation and rational argument — as opposed to relying on traditional myths to explain natural phenomena. Mayhew clearly showed the radical differences between the methods of Thales and those of thinkers in other cultures at the time. Mayhew also traced the unique factors in ancient Greek culture that made possible (but not necessary) the development of explicit philosophy.

I particularly enjoyed the lessons for the prospects for Objectivism at the end of the lecture.

(The lecture was related to Dr. Mayhew’s essay criticizing Robert Tracinski’s analysis of the role of philosophy in history, posted to NoodleFood in January 2007.)

Pat Corvini: “Two, Three, Four, and All That: The Sequel,” Class 1 of 3:

This course examines three modern ideas in mathematics: (1) equivalent sets, (2) the postulational method, and (3) the continuum and actual infinities. Today, Pat explained the basics of Cantor’s arguments about comparisons of sets, with a few hints of the criticisms to come. (I remembered that somewhat fuzzily from my undergraduate course in philosophy of mathematics.) Tomorrow and the next day, she’ll lay out the standard the postulational method, and then discuss the Objectivist approach to these topics. (Very cool!)

This course is a sequel to her excellent course of last year: Two, Three, Four, and All That.

That’s all for today!

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