Has no religion, in your estimation, ever offered anything of constructive value to human life?
Qua religion, no – in the sense of blind belief, belief unsupported by, or contrary to, the facts of reality and the conclusions of reason. Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason. But you must remember that religion is an early form of philosophy, that the first attempts to explain the universe, to give a coherent frame of reference to man’s life and a code of moral values, were made by religion, before men graduated or developed enough to have philosophy. And, as philosophies, some religions have very valuable moral points. They may have a good influence or proper principles to inculcate, but in a very contradictory context and, on a very – how should I say it? – dangerous or malevolent base: on the ground of faith.
When you hear the word selfishness what comes to mind? Typically, selfishness is associated with amoral, predatory behavior. It’s a word used to describe people like Bernard Madoff or Attila the Hun. On the other hand, selflessness is generally celebrated and aligned with friendship and love. In this talk, Peter Schwartz challenges these misconceptions.
Discussing ideas in his new book, In Defense of Selfishness: Why the Code of Self-Sacrifice Is Unjust and Destructive(publication date June 2, 2015), Schwartz offers a radically different view of selfishness and altruism. The rationally selfish individual — he argues — is committed to moral principles and lives an honest, productive, self-respecting life. Schwartz refutes the ethics of self-sacrifice in all its forms and shows that friendship and love are acts, not of self-sacrifice, but of self-interest.
This talk explains why you have a moral right to exist for your own sake, rather than a moral duty to serve the needs of others.
Copies of the book will be available for sale at the talk. Mr. Schwartz will sign books after the talk.
When will Peter be speaking in a city near you?
Chicago — June 9. Refreshments begin at 6:30 PM. Talk begins at 7:00 PM at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, 301 East North Water Street, Chicago, IL 60611.
New York City — June 10. Refreshments begin at 7:00 PM. Talk begins at 7:30 PM. CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016.
San Francisco — June 16. Refreshments begin at 7:00 PM. Talk begins at 7:30 PM at The Bently Reserve, 400 Sansome St, San Francisco, CA 94111.
Irvine — June 17. Doors open at 7:00 PM. Talk begins at 7:30 PM at the Hilton Orange County/Costa Mesa, 3050 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626.
At the age of thirteen, Ayn Rand decided she was an atheist. Ayn Rand’s reason: “the concept of God is degrading to man.” One major form of this degradation is religion’s effect on genuine values, including sacred values. This idea is prominent in her early writings and continues to be featured in The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, as well as in her nonfiction. In this lecture and Q&A, recorded at Objectivist Summer Conference 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada, philosophy professor Robert Mayhew examines this aspect of Ayn Rand’s distinctive approach to atheism.