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Atlas Shrugged is one of the best selling novels of the twentieth century, and reading it is an enjoyable way to learn about the philosophy of the book’s author, Ayn Rand. Her philosophy, called Objectivism, includes distinctive views of epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics. The principal theme of this course will be an account of some of the most important of these views, illustrated through episodes in the novel.
The novel has aroused both intense admiration and equally intense hatred. I’m not an Objectivist, but I think we can learn a great deal from study of the book. Students who take the course will gain an understanding of one of the most important philosophical influences on contemporary libertarianism.
In the course, we’ll also discuss Rand’s theory of aesthetics and consider some of the critical reactions to the novel. What are the book’s strengths and weaknesses?
The course, which starts in June, consists of six lectures. Each lecture is followed by questions and discussion. An optional weekly quiz is offered to those who wish to take the course for credit.