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Rand's The Fountainhead: Reading and Discussion for January Meetup

It seems like Ayn Rand's name pops up in Thinkers' Club discussions relatively frequently, often loaded with passionate - and divergent - opinions of Objectivism. Now for the first time in Thinkers' Club history, we will devote our January meetup to the discussion of one of Rand's most provokative and controversial works, The Fountainhead. This 1943 bestselling fictional novel tells the story of Howard Roark, a young architect with unyeilding ideals and unparallelled artisitc genius, who struggles against social derision and denuciation to eventually reify his architectural creations. Rand aims to depict the ideal man - the perfect embodyment of her Objectivist philosophy. Rand uses Roark's journey to introduce her views on aesthetics, capitalism, and ethics, sparking questions like "what role does selfishness play in 'the good life?'" and "Is is possible for a real person to live out Rand's ideals?" A passionate story of lust, melodrama, art criticism, and intriguing character development make Rand's writing alluring and accessible to the non-philosophically inclined. If you've been waiting for some "sexy philosophy," this meetup is for you!

Questions to keep in mind as you are reading The Fountainhead: What are the basic tenents of Objectivism?
Is living out Rand's Objectivist philosophy a "real option" for regular humans? Should "livability" be
a necessary requirement for developing a system of ethics?
Rand is an elitist - would a system of ethics based on this premise be viable in society? What are
the social and pragmatic consequences of an ethics of selfishness? What
critisms would you make of Rand's ethics?
Can Rand really support her ideas with the philosophical foundations she cites?

This is SURE to be a heated discussion. It's hard to have a neutral opinion on Rand since her ideas are loaded with political, moral, and economic axioms. Come having read the book...or the cliffs notes....or something shorter by Rand like Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology or Anthem. We welcome those with pro and anti Objectivist views alike. I anticipate this discussion becoming a debate, so let's all remember to come in with respectful attitudes towards others' veiws :). See you in January and have a happy holiday season!

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  • Ian Y.

    It was a very interesting and spirited discussion and i now have more questions than answers which is a good thing. I look forward to learning more.

    January 6, 2011

  • Mark R. O.

    That was just FUN. A great discussion we had some first timers, Lisa, Ayad, Nat and Dalia. I hope to see you all again. Don it's never too late, if you want to be James Bond, I say go for it. MI6 needs you.

    January 6, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    This was my first meetup with this group. We had lively discussion. Thank you all that spoke. We had 18!!!! people show up, only 10 RSVP'd. Lots of "bonus" participants.

    January 6, 2011

  • Mark R. O.

    1. Amy, where did you post that last comment? I'm conflicted with your assessment of Ms. Rand and Roark. I agree with you with respect to Ms. Rand. I find I disagree with your assessment of Howard Roark. To this day I am inspired by the character. I do see Roark as an artist and uncompromising principle. Roark does collaborate, limited as it is, by the client choosing him as their architect. I equate it to a client searching out an artist to produce an original work of art.

    December 19, 2010

  • Mark R. O.

    2. E.g., if I where to hire to Jackson Pollock I would expect it to be a work in his style. The same if I where to hire Norman Rockwell. Roark didn’t suffer fools. This is something I can sympathize with, as a carpenter; I have fired customers, only two to date. They wanted a bizarre order of the work that would have doubled my effort and the bill. Also unlike most architects, Roark has a first hand knowledge of the trades.

    December 19, 2010

  • Mark R. O.

    Who said Ms. Rand was an elitists? Personally I think she was just overly self involved. And a really good author.

    December 16, 2010

  • Mark R. O.

    Lisa that was good, thank you. The Fountainhead is my in the top five of my favorite books. I have something of a love/hate relationship with Ms. Rand.

    December 9, 2010

  • Amy

    Harry and Brian,

    Thank you for your insightful suggestions. I like the idea of keeping the discussion taylored to ethics, though I find it tempting to discuss Rand's aesthetics as well since I find the two to be linked. You each seem to have read more Rand than I have, so I hope you will be able to join us on the 5th.

    December 6, 2010

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