Objectivist Summer Conference 2006

  General Sessions
  Optional Courses
  Spirit of Boston Cruise
  Hotel & Area
  Registration Options and Pricing
  Contact Us


Other Upcoming and Current Events

  Introduction to Ayn Rand's Philosophy

April 26–May 31, 2006
  Objectivist Summer Conference 2007

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged in Telluride, Colorado, July 6–July 15, 2007

Previous Events
  Ayn Rand Centenary Celebration


  2005 Summer Conference

Lectures available from the Ayn Rand Bookstore


Optional Courses

All optional courses are available in both Session 1 and Session 2, so attendees can maximize the number of courses they plan to attend. Optional courses are letter-coded (A–D, see our Conference Schedule) by daily time slot and duration. For instance, "B" courses meet four times during each session, 1:15–2:35 PM, for a total of five hours and twenty minutes of class time. Remember that you can only select one course from each letter group, A–D, per session, so if you want to attend more than one "A" course, for example, you must attend one in each session.

Number Course Title Presenter
(S1=Session 1; S2=Session 2)
Four 90-minute sessions, 8:30–10:00 AM (July 1–4); 2:50–4:20 PM (July 5-8)  
Aristotle's Ethics: Its Critics through History Marc Baer
The Rise of Totalitarian Islam Yaron Brook
Romance: Bringing Love and Sex Together Ellen Kenner and Edwin A. Locke
Objectivist Epistemology in Outline Greg Salmieri
(S1=Session 1; S2=Session 2)
Four 80-minute sessions, 1:15–2:35 PM  
The History of America (part 5): 1920–1975 Eric Daniels
Descartes's Meditations Robert Mayhew
The Nature of Probability, Its Valid and Invalid Uses Evan Picoult
Savoring Ayn Rand's "Red Pawn" Dina Schein
(S1=Session 1; S2=Session 2)
Three 90-minute sessions, 2:50–4:20 PM (July 1–3); 8:30–10 AM (July 6–8)  
Understanding 20th-century Philosophy—The Case of Quine B. John Bayer
The Greco-Persian Wars John Lewis
The Structure of the American Constitution Stephen Plafker
The Operas of Giacomo Puccini Sandra Schwartz
(S1=Session 1; S2=Session 2)
Three 90-minute sessions, 4:35-6:05 PM  
Inspiring Heroes: Great Leaders Debi Ghate, Talbot Manvel and Rob Tarr
Essential Developments towards Musical Romanticism M. Zachary Johnson
The History of England (part 2) Andrew Lewis
Gems of Short Fiction Lisa VanDamme
Course Descriptions

A1S1, A1S2
Aristotle's Ethics: Its Critics through History
Marc Baer

Aristotle’s is one of the most rational and developed theories in the history of ethical thought. Yet despite its influence, it has never found broad acceptance among intellectuals. Why? This course explains various historically important—and sometimes justified—challenges to his theory. After setting out his main doctrines, we will survey ancient, medieval and modern criticisms of: the function argument, the doctrine of the mean, his account of justice, and more.

In seeing criticisms of Aristotle’s views, we can see pivotal points in the history of moral philosophy—points which became trends that helped shape the modern world. The course thus provides an understanding not only of the core of Aristotle’s ethical thought, but also of crucial developments in the history of moral philosophy. Both of these are taken as part of the crucial background against which Ayn Rand’s moral philosophy can be understood.


A2S1, A2S2
The Rise of Totalitarian Islam
Yaron Brook

Today America faces an enemy that most of our political leaders fear to name. This enemy brought down the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11; it has bombed Madrid and London; and to this day it motivates much of the Iraqi insurgency. Our enemy is more than murderous, suicidal terrorists. It’s totalitarian Islam—a lethal ideology calling for holy war against infidels.

In this course, Dr. Brook will analyze the historical development of totalitarian Islam. He will look at its foundation in Koranic teachings; its intellectual development and rise in countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan; its political realization in Iran; and its spread from the Middle East to portions of Europe and now the United States. Dr. Brook will discuss in detail the nature of this ideological threat, as well as the proper methods for dealing with it.


A3S1, A3S2
Romance: Bringing Love and Sex Together
Ellen Kenner and Edwin A. Locke

This course is based primarily on two chapters from the authors’ forthcoming book, Love That’s Here to Stay.

"How to Love Your Soul Mate" focuses on how to make your present romantic relationship thrive. According to Drs. Locke and Kenner, to keep vitality and the spark in a romantic partnership, one cannot rely on feelings alone but must actively think about how to enhance the relationship. Topics include: understanding your partner, encouraging your partner to pursue values, making your partner feel loved, showing generosity and encouraging joint decision-making.

"How to Enjoy Sex" will focus on creating emotional intimacy, creating the mood for sex, communicating about what each partner wants, prioritizing sex and avoiding subverters of sexual pleasure.

The instructors will illustrate key principles by performing role-play dialogues, and participants will be given voluntary exercises to enhance their ability to apply these skills to their own lives. The course is open to couples, including same-sex couples, singles—anyone who wants to enhance a current relationship or acquire knowledge for a future one.


A4S1, A4S2
Objectivist Epistemology in Outline
Greg Salmieri

Ayn Rand held that "philosophy is primarily epistemology"—the "science devoted to the discovery of the proper methods of acquiring and validating knowledge." Therefore, "it is with a new approach to epistemology that the rebirth of philosophy has to begin." This class is to be a survey of Rand’s new approach to epistemology—the most original and least widely understood aspect of her thought.

Rand did not write a systematic presentation of her entire epistemology, but her Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology presents "one of its cardinal elements—the Objectivist theory of concepts," and she discusses other elements of the epistemology in numerous other articles. Leonard Peikoff has provided a systematic presentation in his Objectivism: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand. Drawing on these works, this class will highlight the structure of the epistemology, helping students to appreciate how Rand’s theory of concepts forms the core of a distinctive and powerful theory of knowledge.

The course will be a good introduction to the Objectivist epistemology for beginning students, and it will contain new ideas that should be of interest to advanced students.


B1S1, B1S2
The History of America (part 5): 1920–1975
Eric Daniels

This course tells the story of America’s tumultuous confrontation with the biggest challenges of the 20th century. During the half-century from the end of World War I to the end of the Vietnam War, Americans confronted a worldwide depression, the growth of New Deal statism, the menace of fascism and communism, and their own internal intellectual fractures. Throughout this period of wars and domestic conflict, American thinkers embraced purer and more consistent versions of the altruist and collectivist ideas their forebears had planted during the Progressive Era. How did these philosophic changes affect American life? How did Americans reconcile the surging prosperity of postwar America with an emerging radically anticapitalist strain of American thought? What led to American successes and failures in foreign policy? In these five lectures, the final part of his five-part series, Dr. Daniels will explain the major events and intellectual trends of American history from the 1920s to the end of the 1960s. The focus will be on illuminating the broad trends in our history.


B2S1, B2S2
Descartes's Meditations
Robert Mayhew

Leonard Peikoff once wrote that "To reclaim the self-confidence of man’s mind, the first modern to refute is Immanuel Kant … ; the second is Descartes." In this course, Dr. Mayhew will conduct a close, critical analysis of Descartes’s most important work: Meditations on First Philosophy (1641). Not only will this acquaint the student with a major, influential work from early modern philosophy, it will also provide him with an excellent opportunity to practice philosophical detection. Topics (i.e., errors) to be covered include: skepticism about the senses and reason; the cogito; the primacy of consciousness; Cartesian dualism; the ontological argument for the existence of God.


B3S1, B3S2
The Nature of Probability, Its Valid and Invalid Uses
Evan Picoult

Probability and statistics are mathematical concepts used extensively in the physical and biological sciences, in engineering and in finance. Probability has two related but different meanings. One is the assessment of the evidentiary status of propositions along the continuum from false to possible to probable to certain. This course, in contrast, will focus on probability as the measurement of the frequency of occurrence of potential states of random physical and economic processes. Randomness will be explained as an epistemological, not metaphysical, concept.

This course will explain the proper definition and epistemological status of the concept of probability by reviewing its conceptual development in the 17th–19th centuries and by examining its valid and invalid uses across a range of subjects, from games of chance through physics and finance.

Topics will include: the relation of probability, correlation and causality; statistical mechanics, entropy and Maxwell's Demon; probability and methods for measuring value and risk in finance.


B4S1, B4S2
Savoring Ayn Rand's "Red Pawn"
Dina Schein

Ayn Rand's movie scenario "Red Pawn" is arguably the most dramatic of her early works of fiction. This course aims to raise the reader’s enjoyment of "Red Pawn" by analyzing it and to teach the rudiments of literary analysis using this work as the model. Among issues to be discussed: how to determine "Red Pawn's" theme; the essential elements that make this work dramatic; an analysis of the story's characters; how the events, characters and even descriptive details support the theme; how Miss Rand’s technique of writing in tiers applies to this work. By contrasting "Red Pawn" with its nearest literary neighbor, We the Living, Dr. Schein will shed more light on both works.


C1S1, C1S2
Understanding 20th-Century Philosophy—the Case of Quine
B. John Bayer

The late W. V. Quine was one of the most influential American philosophers of the 20th century, and the story of his philosophy is in many ways the story of 20th-century "analytic" philosophy. This course will survey and evaluate central points of Quine's philosophy.

Inspired by Bertrand Russell and mentored by Rudolf Carnap, Quine was steeped in the early tradition of logical positivism and linguistic analysis. But, in time, Quine came to reject central tenets of the analytic tradition. His critique of the analytic/synthetic distinction and the empiricist criterion of meaning were instrumental in dethroning the orthodoxy of logical positivism, ushering in a new era of "naturalism" in philosophy that persists to this day.

Although Quine portrayed himself as a defender of science and objectivity, his basic philosophic premises imply a skepticism more like contemporary postmodernism than Quine was willing to admit. Understanding this will help explain why even the best of today's philosophers remain under the sway of ideas that are at odds with science and reason.


C2S1, C2S2
The Greco-Persian Wars
John Lewis

In 490 BC some 50,000 Persians landed on the beach at Marathon, and 10,000 Greeks drove them back. The Persians returned ten years later, and "drank the rivers dry" with the largest army ever seen. Against all odds, the Greeks united, ruined the ambitions of the Persian king along with his army, and then drove onto his soil, smashing the threat permanently. These were the single most important battles in all of Western history. The course will consider why the king attacked, on what terms the Greeks united, how they destroyed the king's ambitions and what lessons this conflict holds for today. We will pay homage to the awesome heroes of the Greeks—the "greatest generation" of their day—who defended their freedom with their lives and made possible all that we are today. (Students should read books 5–8 of the Penguin edition of Herodotus: The Histories.)


C3S1, C3S2
The Structure of the American Constitution
Stephen Plafker

This course will study what Ayn Rand called "the great American achievement," the system of checks and balances of the Constitution. Students will gain a deep understanding of American governmental organization, the reason this organization is necessary to protect rights, the reason it works and the reason it is deteriorating: i.e., why this country cannot last without the proper philosophy.

The course will examine how the Constitution divides the federal government into its lawmaking function (the legislature), its enforcement function (the executive) and the law courts (the judiciary) and how it divides governmental powers between the state and federal governments. It will explore the relationship between the language and structure of the Constitution and the rights it was designed to secure.

* * *

(There is no overlap between this course and a course on the Constitution given by C. Bradley Thompson at Objectivist Summer Conference 2004.)


C4S1, C4S2
The Operas of Giacomo Puccini
Sandra Schwartz

The operas of Giacomo Puccini are among the most performed of our day. What makes his operas so enormously popular?

In the last decade of the 19th century, as Giuseppe Verdi was premiering his final opera, Italian opera went in a new direction, defined by the school of verismo. This musical style employed less formally structured melody and focused on subjects of everyday life in the form of intense—often melodramatic—love stories. And Puccini, with his passionate, evocative music, was its greatest exponent.

This course examines five of Puccini's best works, ones seldom out of the performance repertoire: Manon Lescaut, La bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly and Turandot. Selections from these operas are studied for their distinctive lyricism and melody. Different performances of the same selection are contrasted in order to understand variations in style and interpretation by artists. A brief biographical presentation of Puccini is interwoven with the music.


D1S1, D1S2
Inspiring Heroes: Great Leaders
Debi Ghate, Talbot Manvel and Rob Tarr

Scattered throughout American history are the compelling stories of inspiring men whose leadership resulted in tremendous achievement and progress. Such heroic men can be found in fields as diverse as finance, politics and the military. Yet they have in common their reliance on reason, their unfaltering persistence in the face of adversity, their dedication to excellence and their unerring belief in the integrity and the efficacy of the individual. It is these characteristics that separate the courageous leader from the rest of the crowd. Join us as we tell the compelling stories of three such leaders: Hyman Rickover (presented by Captain Talbot Manvel), Frederick Douglass (presented by Debi Ghate) and Andrew Carnegie (presented by Rob Tarr).


D2S1, D2S2
Essential Developments towards Musical Romanticism
M. Zachary Johnson

Drawing on the "Milestones of Musical Romanticism" series that appeared in TIA Daily, this course will highlight the essential steps in the development from classical-period musical style, exemplified in the music of Haydn and Mozart, to the mature romantic sound we hear in the music of such composers as Dvorak, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff.

The contributions of three great composers—Beethoven, Schubert and Chopin—will be focused on to show that the essential historical change from classical to romantic style was an expansion of the depth, range and intensity of musically aroused emotion. By focusing on the innovations of these three composers, the course will help listeners get a clearer idea what Romanticism in music consists of, as well as an overview of the historical trend that generated the most passionate music in history.


D3S1, D3S2
The History of England (part 2)
Andrew Lewis

By 1215 English monarchs and barons had instituted significant reforms that secularized and rationalized England’s legal system, and limited—in theory—the power of the king. What happened to these reforms? Were they adhered to and enhanced, or were they ignored and allowed to decay? What influence, if any, did the political ideas of the 13th century’s greatest thinker, Thomas Aquinas, have on England's political system?

This course will examine England's history from the aftermath of Magna Charta to the development of the bicameral parliament shortly after the beginning of the Hundred Years' War. It will ask the question: "What happens to good political ideas when they are not supported by an explicit knowledge of their underlying philosophic principles?"


D4S1, D4S2
Gems of Short Fiction
Lisa VanDamme

One consequence of the decay of American education is that many adults have never been exposed to the classics of world literature. Reading lists from today’s high schools and universities consist primarily of contemporary American fiction or obscure multicultural novels. In those rare cases that the classics are taught, they are analyzed either superficially or from an irrational philosophic perspective.

In this course, Ms. VanDamme will discuss of some of the world's great works of short fiction, by authors such as Leo Tolstoy, Guy de Maupassant, Oscar Wilde and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Her approach to analyzing these stories will be the one defined by Leonard Peikoff in his brilliant course "Eight Great Plays": she will discuss the plot (or central event), characterization, theme, underlying philosophy and style of each author. In doing so, she hopes to introduce Objectivists to the powerful events, penetrating insights and memorable characters of stories that they ought to have been taught in school, and that are taught at her school.



Register now!

General Sessions

All of our General Session options, including the special lecture about the U.S.S. Constitution and the July 6 evening panel, are available with one convenient registration.

Optional Courses

16 optional courses are offered, with topics ranging from Aristotle to politics to opera.

Register online or call us at 1-800-365-6552, ext. 239.

Request a print catalog



© 2006 Second Renaissance, Inc. Objectivist Conferences (OCON) and Second Renaissance, Inc. are operated by the Ayn Rand® Institute. Second Renaissance, Inc. and the Ayn Rand Institute do not necessarily endorse the content of the lectures and courses offered. Payments made to Objectivist Conferences or Second Renaissance, Inc. do not qualify as tax-deductible contributions to the Ayn Rand Institute. All photographs from the Seaport Hotel and the Boston area are reproduced by permission.

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