I’m pleased to report that Tuesday’s “Think!” lecture on moral perfection at CU Boulder went… more or less perfectly! I was able to cover the major elements of Ayn Rand’s views on moral perfection — meaning: what it is, why it’s necessary, and how to achieve it. The Q&A went well too: I found the questions meaty and challenging. My only regret is that I didn’t have time to discuss Christianity or Aristotle in any depth, but I’ll save that for another time. Also, it was darn cool to be back at CU Boulder to speak for the awesome “Think!” lecture series that I helped produce for three years as a graduate student.
I will be releasing audio, video, and slides from the lecture in a few weeks, i.e. after SnowCon 2012. But… I’m only making it available to those super-awesome people who’ve contributed to Philosophy In Action. (You’ll alerted by e-mail when it’s posted!)
I closed my lecture with a quote from Ayn Rand’s journals that seems to be mostly unknown, but that really resonates with people. I post it here for your chewing enjoyment:
Man may be justly proud of his natural endowments (if they are there objectively, i.e., rationally), such as physical beauty, physical strength, a great mind, good health. But all of these are merely his material or his tools; his self-respect must be based, not on these attributes, but on what he does with them. His self-respect must be based on his actions — on that which proceeds from him. …
If a man says: “But I realize that my natural endowments are mediocre — shall I then suffer, be ashamed, have an inferiority complex?” The answer is: “In the basic, crucial sphere, the sphere of morality and action, it is not your endowments that matter, but what you do with them.” It is here that all men are free and equal, regardless of natural gifts. You can be, in your own modest sphere, as good morally as the genius is in his — if you live by the same rules.
Find your goal within yourself, in whatever work you are honestly capable of performing. Never make others your prime goal. Demand nothing from others as an unearned gift and grant them nothing unearned. Live by your own rational judgments. Be independent in whatever judgments you hold or actions you undertake, and do not venture beyond your own capacity, into spheres where you’ll have to become a parasite and a second-hander. You’ll be surprised how decent and wonderful a human being you’ll become, and how much honest, legitimate human affection and appreciation you’ll get from others.”
That’s from The Journals of Ayn Rand, starting on page 291.