Highlights from OCON: Day 6

 Posted by on 4 July 2008 at 10:50 pm  ARI, OCON
Jul 042008

Here are highlights from the Ayn Rand Institute’s summer conference (a.k.a. OCON), Day Six:

Eric Daniels on Freedom of Speech in American History, Lecture 1 of 3:

  • Two words perfectly summarize the opening lecture of this course: Freakin’ Awesome. Eric Daniels — my very, very favorite of all the fabulous Objectivist lecturers — offered an hour and fifteen minutes of uber-high-bandwidth information on free speech. It was clear, comprehensible, and compelling. (I had no trouble taking copious good notes.) And, Eric looked at his notes once or twice the whole time — maybe. So as I said: Freakin’ Awesome.

  • This lecture covered three foundational questions: (1) Do we have free speech today? (2) What is free speech? and (3) Why does free speech matter? (His answer for the third was particularly interesting in his emphasis on the epistemological roots of the right of free speech.) Eric then discussed — in some detail — the early history of free speech in America, particularly the state of English law on free speech (fascinating!), the First Amendment and the Sedition Act (not your father’s view!), and the restrictions on abolitionist speech in the mid-1830s (familiar ground for me, but now better integrated and understood).

Since I’m only taking one optional course this week, that single class was my whole conference today. So I spent some time working on my dissertation, talking with friends, and goofing off. Plus I got in a painfully good workout.

Finally, Paul and I had a particularly delightful dinner with friends — the kind of evening that I hope to vividly and fondly recall 50 years from now. That was beyond fantastic.

Oh and I forgot to mention this tidbit earlier: As of a few days ago, OCON 2008 had 455 attendees — and that was still growing. It’s a darn big conference.

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