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03 April 2015

Should You Try to Be Morally Perfect?

By Diana Hsieh

Off-topic but perhaps of interest...

Back in March 2012, I gave a lecture titled "Should You Try to Be Morally Perfect?" as part of the CU Boulder Philosophy Department's "Think!" series. In the lecture, I explored Ayn Rand's concept of moral perfection, arguing that it's necessary for a happy, fulfilled, and moral life.

Yesterday, I posted the podcast of that lecture... finally! It's "premium content" for Philosophy in Action, so it's available for $10. (If you're a regular contributor to Philosophy in Action's Tip Jar, it's free to you, so just email me for free access.) Anyone can preview the first 14 minutes of the lecture here before buying: http://www.philosophyinaction.com/perfection

Here's the abstract of the lecture:

Most people dismiss any ideal of moral perfection as beyond their reach. "I'm only human," they say. That view is a legacy of Christianity, which teaches that moral perfection is possible to God alone and that any attempt at moral perfection is the sin of pride. In sharp contrast, Ayn Rand argues that moral perfection is not only possible to ordinary people, but also necessary for anyone who wants to live a virtuous and happy life. Hence, pride, understood as moral ambitiousness, is one of her seven major virtues – as seen in the heroes of her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

This talk explores Ayn Rand's views of moral perfection, ambition, and pride. What does she think that morality demands? How can people achieve that? How should people respond to their own moral wrongs and errors? We will compare Rand's answers to these questions to those of Aristotle. We will find that, despite some differences in each philosopher's conception of virtue, they share the compelling view that seeking moral perfection is crucially important to a person's life and happiness.

The lecture is a friendly introduction to some of the principles of Ayn Rand's egoistic ethics for people unfamiliar with that, and it's got plenty of fresh red meat for long-time Objectivists too.

Again, you can preview and purchase the podcast of that lecture here: Should You Try to Be Morally Perfect?


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