Rebirth of Reason


Ayn Rand at the West Virginia Philosophical Society
by Fred Seddon

The West Virginia Philosophical Society met on Oct. 21-22 and celebrated, in part, the hundredth anniversary of her birth. Six of the twelve speakers, including the keynote speaker, addressed topics on Rand.

Professor Bill Clark of West Virginia University spoke on Rand, and in particular, his memories of his time as a student of Peikoff at the University of Denver and the University of Colorado. On more substantial matters, he talked on the importance of one of Rand’s key epistemological injunctions: Don’t drop the context of your concepts.

The only negative paper on Rand was delivered by a student presenter from West Virginia University, Mr. Steve Conifer, who suggested the virtue of selflessness. He was soundly grilled during the question period.

I then spoke on the fourfold theory of truth in Rand, and demonstrated that Rand not only endorses the correspondence theory of truth, but also uses the coherentist, intuitionist, and pragmatic theories of truth.

Then came the keynote address which was delivered with his usual aplomb by none other than SOLO's own Tibor Machan. His topic, “Ayn Rand and her Significant Feats,” was well-received and provoked a lot of serious questions, especially about free will, one of the perennial questions of Objectivism (if I may borrow a phrase from David Kelley). Tibor was also very active in all the question periods and wouldn’t let speakers get away with anything. Bottom line: Tibor was great.

The Saturday morning program featured two more talks on Rand, the first by a frequent contributor to SOLOHQ, Ed Younkins, of Wheeling Jesuit University. After thanking me for turning him on to Ayn Rand when I was a faculty member at Wheeling Jesuit back in the early 90s, he talked about his upcoming book on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

I know that there have been many celebrations of Rand’s birth this year, but I bet I was the only moderator who actually introduced Ayn Rand ... that is, Ayn Rand Embar-Seddon of Capella University. Ayn spoke on “Writing with Rand” and covered the essential insights and hints found in both The Art of Non-Fiction and The Art of Fiction.

Finally, after the last Rand-oriented talk was given, Professor John Vielkind of Marshall University raised his hand to tell the audience that he could not wait to return home to begin his first reading of Atlas Shrugged.
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