Yesterday Leonard Peikoff released his sixth podcast, in which he answers questions about Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand. This time, he took on four main questions. (Again, my summaries are no substitute for the content of Peikoff’s comments.)
1. Should one hesitate to become a writer of fiction, if one believes that one could never match the quality of Rand’s novels? Peikoff answers that relying on such a “comparative standard” is a “complete error.” Instead, if you love the work of some particular field, and if you can produce work of value in that field, you should go for it.
2. Would an isolationist foreign policy with respect to the Middle East make us safer? Peikoff notes that political isolation can work only between regions that are both non-aggressive. Once one side initiates aggression, isolationism is unworkable. Peikoff adds that, in the case of Islamic terrorists, the notion that a United States military presence in the Middle East somehow provoked the attacks is a only a rationalization; the real motive of Islamic terrorists is “hatred of the West.”
3. Can one act without an emotional impetus? Peikoff believes not. Every act must be motivated by some “value commitment.”
4. Are internet discussions about Objectivism fruitful? Peikoff answers that, while they can be, often they lack philosophical context and rigor. Speaking from my own experience, I look back with embarrassment on much that I wrote “about” Objectivism years ago when I knew very little about it; much of what I wrote was complete nonsense. Readers unfamiliar with Objectivism, then, should bear in mind that many internet forums may radically misrepresent Ayn Rand’s ideas, and this can be true of comments coming from detractors as well as (nominal) supporters of those ideas.
I’m really enjoying these podcasts, and I hope that my brief summaries help to point others to them.