Great Antidote Extras: Rand's Objectivism in Life and Art

aesthetics art great antidote extras ayn rand objectivism

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What is the proper role of reason in a human life? Are there objective standards for art that can be arrived at through reason?
A word I don’t read often at AdamSmithWorks is “objectivism” but I’ve been invited to think more about it recently by listening to two Great Antidote podcasts. We do talk about Aristotle and Aristotelianism and Ayn Rand was a BIG fan of Aristotle. Here are the podcasts:

With Durante, an author and professor, host Juliette Sellgren focuses the conversation on art, aesthetics, and innovation. Durante is a clear admirer of Rand; she has a section on her webpage, “Why I write on art based on Ayn Rand’s esthetics.” In her own words, “no one surpasses or even equals Ayn Rand in the field of esthetics.”

Biddle, the founder and director of the Objective Standard Institute is an author as well. Sellgren and Biddle’s conversation focuses more on objectivism and responding to misunderstandings and common objections to it. 

Among the questions raised in these episodes are what is the proper role of reason in a human life? Are there objective standards for art that can be arrived at through reason? Durante is worried that art critics and historians have gotten lost without a good definition of art. Biddle is worried that people are being given and are accepting beliefs and ideas that are directly opposed to the real means of human flourishing.  For both of them, Ayn Rand provides true and compelling answers. 

What are your thoughts on these questions? We hope you help us continue these conversations. 

1 - Would “true” objectivists all agree about the value of specific works of art?  Would they all agree on the morality of a specific act in a given context?    

2 - Does all art have a moral purpose? Do all acts have moral content?  

3 - Can the definition of what a human is and what a human needs to flourish change over time? Does what a youth needs differ from what a mature person needs? Do men and women and non-bianry people all need different things?

4 - The classic Aristotelian concept of mimesis is different from Rand’s Aesthetics. Does this represent a change in what the nature of good art is or were ancient conceptions always wrong (they were wrong then, and they are wrong now)?

5 - Biddle suggests people read Rand’s fiction before (perhaps instead of?) her essays. Why would a more ambiguous medium be better than a clearer one?  

Related content
Ayn Rand's Aesthetics at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Robert Edward Gordon and Daniel Asia's Heaven and Earth: Points of Convergence in the Arts and Adam Smith at AdamSmithWorks