The following is a conversation with Iran, Brooke, one of the best known Objectivist philosophers and thinkers in the world, Objectivism, is the philosophical system developed by Ayn Rand that she first expressed in her fiction books, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. And later in nonfiction essays and books, Yarran is the current chairman of the board at the Ayn Rand Institute, host of the Yaron Brook Show, and the co-author of Free Market Revolution. Equal is Unfair and several other books where he analyzes systems of government, human behavior and the human condition from the perspective of Objectivism.
Quick mention of his sponsor, followed by some thoughts related to the episode Blankest, an app I use for reading through summaries of books expressed VPN, the VPN I've used for many years to protect my privacy on the Internet and catch up the app I use to send money to friends. Please check out these sponsors in the description to get a discount and support this podcast. As a side note, let me say that I first read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead early in college, along with many other literary and philosophical works from Nicha, Heidegger can't Locke for Karl Wittgenstein and of course all the great existentialists from Kierkegaard to Comeaux.
I always had an open mind curious to learn and explore the ideas of thinkers throughout history, no matter how mundane or radical or even dangerous they were considered to be. And Rand was and I think still is a divisive figure. Some people love her, some people dislike or even dismiss her. I prefer to look past what some consider to be the flaws of the person and consider with an open mind the ideas she presents. And Euron now describes and applies in his philosophical discussions in general.
I hope that you will be patient and understanding as I venture out across the space of ideas and the ever widening Overton Window, pulling at the thread of curiosity, sometimes saying stupid things but always striving to understand how we can better build a better world together. If you enjoy this thing. Subscribe on YouTube. Review it with five starting up a podcast. Follow on Spotify supporting and patron or connect with me on Twitter. Àlex Friedman, as usual. I do a few minutes of ads now and no ads in the middle.
I try to make this interesting, but I give you time stamps. So if you skip, please still check out the sponsors by clicking the links in the description. It's the best way to support this podcast. This episode is sponsored by Blankest, my favorite app for Learning New Things. Blanca's takes the key ideas from thousands of nonfiction books and condenses them down into just 15 minutes.
You can read or listen to. I'm a big believer of reading at least an hour every day. As part of that, I use Blankest almost daily to try out a book I may otherwise never have a chance to read. And in general, it's a great way to broaden your view of the ideal landscape out there and find books that you may want to read more deeply with blinkers, get unlimited access to read or listen to a massive library of condensed nonfiction books.
I also use blankest forecasts to quickly catch up on podcast episodes I've missed. Right now, Blankest has a special offer. Just for the listeners of this podcast, Go to Blink Estacado Last Legs to start your free seven day trial and get twenty five percent of Eyeblink This premium membership that's blankest spelled Belin K Blink is that Slash selects to get twenty five percent off and a seven day free trial. Blunkett's that councillor's likes this show sponsored by expressly. You can use Express VPN to unlock movies and shows that are only available in other countries expressly open lets you change your online location so you can control where you want sites to think you're located.
Open the app. So I thought I'd tap the one big button to connect and refresh the page to access thousands of new shows and movies. I personally have used it to watch Dunkerque, the film about the Dunkirk evacuation in World War Two that Churchill called a miracle in his We Shall Fight on the Beaches, a speech that is one of the most powerful speeches of the war. You can stream in HD. No problem, no buffering or lag, it's compatible with all of your devices, phones, laptops, smart TVs and so on, it also encrypts your data and lets you surf the web safely and anonymously.
Get it and express your podcast Last Legs Pod to get an extra three months free. That's Express Vodacom Flex Pod. Finally, the shows presented by Kashyap app, the number one finance app in the App Store when you get it, is called Leks Podcast up lets you said my friends buy bitcoin and invest in the stock market with as little as one dollar. I'm thinking of doing more conversations with folks who work in and around the cryptocurrency space. Similar to I.
There are a lot of charlatans in the space, but there are also a lot of free thinkers and technical geniuses that are worth exploring in depth and with care. If I make mistakes and get selection and details in conversation, I'll keep trying to improve correct where I can and also keep following my curiosity wherever it takes me. So again, if you get cash out from the App Store or Google Play and Use Collects podcast, you get ten dollars in cash.
I will also donate ten dollars for First, an organization that is helping to advance robotics and stem education for young minds around the world. And now here's my conversation with Yaron Brook. Let me ask the biggest possible question first. Sure. What are the principles of a life well lived? I think it's to live with with art, that is to live a rational life, to think it through. I think so many people are, in a sense, zombies out there.
They're alive, but they're not really alive because their mind is not focused. Their mind is not, you know, focused on what do I need to do in order to live a great life.
So too many people just go through the motions of living rather than really embrace life. So I think the secret to living a great life is to take it seriously. And what it means to take it seriously is to use the one tool that makes us human, the one tool that provides us with all the values that we have a mind, a reason, and to use it, apply it to living right people, apply it to their work. They apply it to their math problems, to science, to to programming.
But imagine if they use that same energy, that same focus, that same concentration to actually living life and choosing values that they should pursue. That would that would change the world and it would change their lives. Yeah, actually, you know, I wear the silly suit and tie it symbolizes to me always. It makes me feel like I'm taking the moment really seriously. I think that's really.
That's right. And and each one of us has different ways to kind of condition our consciousness. I'm serious now. And for you, it's it's a student. It's a it's a conditioning of your consciousness, too. Now I'm focused. Now I'm at work. Now I'm doing my thing. And I think that's that's terrific. And I wish everybody took that look. I mean, it's a cliche, but we only live once every minute of your life.
You never can never live again. This is really valuable.
And when people people don't have that deep respect for their own life, they want time for their own mind. And if they did, again, you know, one could only imagine look it up. Productive people look at amazing things they produce and they do in their work. And if they apply that to everything. Wow.
So you kind of talk about reason. Where does. The kind of existentialist idea of experience may be, you know, fully experiencing all the moments versus fully thinking through. Is there interesting line to separate the two? Why such an emphasis on reason for life well lived versus. Just enjoy like experience. Well, because I think experience, in a sense, is the easy part. I'm not saying it's it's it's how we experience the life that we live in.
Yes. I'm all with the take time to to to value what you value.
But I think I don't think that's the problem of people out there. I don't think the problem is they're not taking time to appreciate where they are and what they do. I think it's that they don't use their mind in this one respect in planning their life and thinking about how to live. So the focus is one reason is because it's our only source of knowledge. There's no other source of knowledge we don't know anything with that does not come from our senses and in our mind, the integration of the of the evidence of our senses.
Now we know stuff about ourselves, and I think it's important to know oneself through introspection.
And I can't consider that part of reasoning is, is to is to introspect. But I think reason is undervalued, which is funny to say, because it's a means of survival. It's how human beings survive. We cannot see. This is where I disagree with so many scientists and people like Sam Harris. You mentioned Sam Harris before the show. When I programmed. To know how to hunt when a program to do agriculture, when a program to build computers and build networks on which we can podcast and do our shows now, all of that requires effort.
It requires focus. It requires energy and it requires will. It require somebody to will it it requires somebody to choose it. And once you make that choice, you have to engage. That choice means that you're choosing to engage your reason in discovery, in integration and then in work to change the world in which we live. And human beings at the Discover figure out, solve the problem of hunting, hunting. Everybody thinks, oh, that's easy. I've seen the movie, but human beings had to figure out how to do it right.
You you can't run down a bison and bite into it. You're not going to catch it. You're not going it. You have no fangs to bite into it. You have to build weapons. You have to build tools. You have to create traps. You have to have a strategy.
All of that requires reason. So the most important thing that allows human beings to survive and to thrive in every value from the most simple to the most sophisticated, for the most material to, I believe, the most spiritual requires thinking. So stopping and appreciating the moment is is something that I think is relatively easy. Once you have a plan, once you've thought it through, once you know what your values are. There is a mistake people make. They retain their values and they just and they just they don't take a moment to savor that and to appreciate that and to even pat themselves on the back that they did it right.
But that's not what's screwing up the world with screwing up the world, is that people have the wrong values and they don't think about them and they don't really focus on them and they don't have a plan for their own life and how to live it if we look at human nature.
You're saying the fundamental big thing that we need to consider is our capacity and capability to reason.
To me, reason is this massive evolutionary achievement in quotes. Right? If you think about any other sophisticated animal, everything has to be coded.
Everything has to be written in the hard way, it has to be there. Yeah, and they have to have a solution for every outcome. And if there's no solution, the animal dies. Typically, the animal suffers in some way. Human beings have this capacity yourself program. They have this capacity. There's not it's not a tabula rasa in the sense that there's nothing there.
Obviously, we have a nature. Obviously, our minds, our brains are structured in a particular way. But given that we have the ability to turn it on or turn it off, we have the ability to commit suicide to to reject our nature, to work against our interests, not to use the tool that evolution has provided us with, which is this mind, which is reason. So that choice, that fundamental choice, you know, Hamlet says it right to be or not to be, but to be or not to be is to think or not to think, to engage or not to engage the focus or not to focus.
You know, in the morning when you get up, you kind of you know, you're not really completely there.
You're kind of out of focus and stuff. It requires an act of will to say, OK, I'm awake, I've got stuff to do. Some people never do that. Some people live in that haze and they never engage that mind. And when you when you're sitting and try to solve a complex computer program problem or math problem, you have to turn something on.
You have to, in a sense, exert a certain energy to focus on the problem, to do it. And that is not determined in a sense that you have to focus, you choose to focus and you could choose not to focus.
And that choice is more powerful than any other like parts of our brain that we've borrowed from fish and from our evolutionary origins like this. Whatever this crazy little leap in evolution is that allowed us to think is more so than anything else.
So I think neuroscientists. Pretend they know a lot more about the brain than they really do. Yeah, and we don't fired and we don't know that much yet about how the brain functions and what's a fish and all this stuff.
So I think what what exists there is a lot of potentialities. But the beauty of the human brain is its its potentialities that we have to manifest through our choices.
It's there. It's sitting there. And yes, there's certain things that can evoke certain senses, certain feelings. I'm not even seeing emotions because I think emotions are too complex to have been programmed into our mind up. But I don't think so.
You know, is this big issue of evolutionary psychology is huge right now, and it's a big issue. You know, I find it to a large extent as a way to early end in storytelling about storytelling, about about stuff we still don't, you know, so for example, I would like to see a full evolutionary psychology differentiate between things like inclinations, feelings, emotions, sensations, thoughts, concepts, ideas. What of those are programmed and what of those are developed and chosen and a product of reason?
I think anything from emotion to abstract ideas is all chosen is all the product of reason and. Everything before that, we might have been programmed for, but the fact is so clearly a sensation is not a product of, you know, is is something that we feel because that's how our biology works.
So until we have these categories and until we can clearly specify what is what and where they come from, the whole discussion in evolutionary psychology seems to be rambling.
It doesn't seem to be scientific. So we have to define our terms, which is the basis of science. You have to have some some clear definitions about what we're talking about it. When you ask them these questions, there's never really a coherent answer about what is it exactly? And everybody is afraid of the issue of free will.
And I think I think to some extent, I mean, Harris has this and I don't want to misrepresent anything haversacks, because I you know, I'm a fan and I like a lot of this stuff.
But on the one hand, he is obviously intellectually active and wants to change our minds. So he believes that we have some capacity to choose. On the other hand, he's undermining that capacity to choose by saying it's just too much. You're going to choose what you choose. You have no say in it. There's actually no you. So it's you know, so and that's to me, completely unscientific. That's completely him, you know, pulling it out of nowhere.
We all experience the fact that we have an I.
That kind of certainty saying that we do not have that fundamental choice, the reason provides is unfounded currently. Look, there's a sense in which it can never be contradicted because it's a product of your experience. It's not a product of your experience. You can experience it directly. So no science will ever prove that this table isn't here. I can see it is here, right? I can I can feel it. I know I have free will because I can introspected in a sense, I can see it, I can see myself engaging it and that is as valid as the evidence of my senses.
Now, I can't point at it so that you can see the same thing I'm seeing, but you can do the same thing in your own consciousness and you can identify the same thing.
And to deny that in the name of science is to get things upside down. You start with that. And that's the beginning of science, the beginning of science, the ID that I choose and that I can reason and it now I need to figure out the mechanism, the rules of reasoning, the rules of logic. How does this work?
And that's where science comes from. Of course, it's possible that science, like from my place of A.I., would be able to if we were able to engineer consciousness or understand. I mean, it's very difficult because we're so far away from it now, but understand how the actual mechanism of that consciousness emerges that, in fact, this table is not real, that we can determine that it is exactly how our mind constructs the reality that we perceive. Then then you can start to make interesting.
But I mean I mean doesn't construct the reality to perceive the reality we perceive as there. We perceive a reality that exists now and we perceive it in particular ways, given the nature of our senses. Right. A bat perceives this table differently, but it's still the same table with the same characteristics and the same identity. It's just a matter of we use eyes, they use a radar system to the sound waves to perceive it. But it's still very existence exist whether we exist or not.
And so you could create I mean, I don't know how and I don't know if it's possible, but let's say you could create a consciousness. Right. And I I suspect that to do that, you would have to use biology, not just electronics, but way outside my expertise, because consciousness, as far as we know, is a phenomena of life. And you would have to figure out how to create life before you created consciousness, I think.
But if you did that, then that wouldn't change anything.
All I would say is we have another conscious being cool. That's great. But it wouldn't change the nature of our consciousness. Our consciousness is what it is, but respect. So that's very interesting. I think this is a good way to set the table for discussion of Objectivism is let me at least challenge a thought experiment, which is I don't know if you're familiar with Donald Hoffman's work about reality. So his idea is that we're just our perception is just an interface to reality.
So Donald Hoffman is the is the guy at UC Irvine? Yeah. Yes. I've met set and I've seen this video. And look, Donald is not invented anything new. This goes back to ancient philosophy. Let me just state in this case, people aren't familiar. I mean, it's a fascinating thought experiment to me, like of out-of-the-box thinking, perhaps literally, is that, you know, there is a different there's a gap between the world as we perceive it and the world as it actually exists.
And I think that's for the philosophy. Objectivism is a really important gap to close. So can you maybe at least try to entertain the idea that. That there is more to reality than our minds can perceive. Well, I don't understand what Moore means, right? Of course, there's more to reality than what our senses perceive. That is. For example, I don't know certain certain elements have radiation. Right. Uranium has really I can't perceive radiation.
The beauty of human reason is. I can I can, through experimentation, discover the phenomena of radiation, then actually measure radiation, and I don't worry about it. I can't perceive the world the way a bat perceives the world. And I might not be able to see some things that. But I can. We've created radar so we understand how I perceive the world and I can mimic it through a radar screen and create an images like the bat.
It's consciousness somehow perceives it right. So. The beauty of human reason is our capacity to understand the world beyond what our senses give us directly at the end, everything comes in through our senses, but we can understand things that our senses don't provide us. But but what he's doing is he's doing something very different. He is saying what our senses provides us might have nothing to do with the reality out there. That is just a random, arbitrary, nonsensical statement.
And he actually has a whole evolutionary explanation for it. Even some simulations, a simulation. I mean, I'm not an expert in this field, but they seem silly to me. They don't seem to reflect. And look, all he's doing is taking Emmanual Khan's philosophy, which articulate exactly the same cause, and he's giving it a veneer of of of evolutionary ideas. I'm not an expert on evolution and I'm not an expert on epistemology, which is what this is.
So to me, as as a semi layman, it doesn't make any sense. And, you know, I'm actually you know, I have I have this year on book show. I don't know if I'm allowed to pitch it, but I've got to few on book show. So let me put it on YouTube.
Huge fan of the show I listen to very often. As a small aside, the cool thing about reason which you practice is you have a systematic way of thinking through basically anything. Yes. And that's so fun to listen to. And it's rare that I think there's flaws in your logic.
But even then, it's fun because I don't like disagreeing with the screen when it's great, when somebody disagrees with me and they give good arguments because that makes it challenging and, you know, so. So one of the shows I want to do in the next few weeks is is one of my philosophy being one of my philosophy friends to discuss the video that that Hofman, where he presents his theory because.
It surprises me how seductive it is, and it seems to be so, first of all, completely counterintuitive, but because, you know, somehow we managed to cross the road and not get hit by the car.
And if our senses do not provide us any information about what's actually going on in reality, how do we do that? And not not to mention build computers, not to mention fly to the moon and actually land on the moon. And if reality is not giving us information about the moon, if our senses and are giving us information about the moon, how did we get there and what did we did? We go maybe we didn't go anyway. It's just it's nonsensical to me.
And it's it's a it's a very bad place philosophically, because it basically says there is no objective standard for anything. There's no objective reality. You can come up with anything. You could argue anything. And there's no methodology. Right. My I believe that at the end of the day, what reason allows us to do is provides us with a methodology for truth. And at the end of the day, for every claim that I make, I should be able to boil it down to see, yeah, look, the evidence of the senses is right.
Then once you take that away, knowledge is gone and tooth is gone, and that opens it up to, you know, complete disaster. So, you know, to me why it's compelling to at least entertain this idea. First of all, shakes of the mind a little bit to force you to go back to first principles and ask the question, what do I really know? And the second part of that that I really enjoy is it's a reminder that we know very little to be a little bit more humble.
So if reality doesn't exist at all, is before you start thinking about it, I think it's a really nice wake up call to think, wait a minute, I don't really know much about this universe, that humbleness. I think something I'd like to ask you about in terms of reason, when you you can become very confident. In your ability to understand the world, if you practice reason often, and I feel like he can lead you astray because you can start to think it's so, I love psychology.
And psychologists have the certainty about understanding the human condition, which is undeserved. You know, you run a study with a 50 people and you think you can understand the source of all these psychiatric disorders, all these kinds of things. And that's similar kind of trouble I feel like you can get into with when you when you overreach with reason.
So I don't think there is such a thing as overreaching with reason. But there are bad applications of reason, their bad uses of reason or the pretense of using reason. I think a lot of these psychological studies are a pretense of using reason. And the psychologists have never really taken a serious stat class or serious econometrics class. So they used statistics in weird ways that just don't make any sense. And that's a myth. That's not reason. Right. That's that's just bad thinking.
So I don't think you can do too much good thinking. And that's what reason is. It's good thinking now. That the fact that you try to use reason does not guarantee you won't make mistakes, it doesn't guarantee you won't be wrong, it doesn't guarantee you won't go down a rabbit hole and completely get it wrong. But it does give you the only existing mechanism to fix it, which is going back to reality, go back to fact, going back to prison and getting out of the rabbit hole and getting up back to reality.
So I agree with you that it's interesting to think about these what I consider crazy ideas, because it wait, what is my argument about them if I don't really have a good argument about them and do I know what I know? So in that sense, it's always nice to be challenged and pushed and and oriented. You know, the nice thing about Objectivism is everybody's doing that to me all the time because nobody agrees with me on anything. So I'm constantly being challenged, whether it's in by HALFMAN on metaphysics and epistemology, right on the very foundations of enology and ethics, everybody constantly and in politics all the time.
So I find that it's part of you know, I prefer that everybody there's a sense in which I prefer that everybody agreed with me.
Right. Because I think we live in a better world. But there's a sense in which that disagreement makes it at least up to a point, makes it interesting and challenging, and forces you to be able to rethink or to confirm your own thinking and to challenge their thinking. Can you try to do the impossible task and give a whirlwind introduction to Ayn Rand, the the many sides of finance and around the human being, Ayn Rand novelist and Ayn Rand philosopher?
So who was Ayn Rand? Sure. So so your life story is is one that I think is is fascinating, but it also lends itself to this integration of all of these things. She was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1945 to kind of a middle class family, Jewish family. They owned a pharmacy, a father on the pharmacy. And, you know, she grew up. She grew up. She was a very she knew what you wanted to do and what you wanted to be from a very young age.
I think from the age of nine, she knew she wanted to be a writer. She wanted to write stories. That was the thing she wanted to do. And, you know, she focused her life after that on this goal of I want to be a novelist. I want to write. And the philosophy was incidental to that, in a sense, at least until some point in her life, she witnessed the Russian Revolution literally had happened outside.
They lived in St. Petersburg, where the first kind of demonstrations and and of the revolution happened. So she witnessed that. She lived through it as a teenager, went to school under the Soviets for a while. They they they were under kind of the in the Black Sea where the opposition government was ruling. And then they would they would go back and forth between the commies and the whites. But but she experienced what communism was like. She saw the pharmacy being taken away from a family.
She saw their apartment being taken away or other other families being brought into the apartment they already lived in. And it was very clear, given her nature, given her views, even at a very young age, that she would not survive the system. So a lot of effort was put into how do we get her, how does she get out? And her family was really helpful in this. And she had a cousin in a cousin in Chicago, and she had been studying film at the university and in her 20s.
This is in her 20s, early 20s and Lenin. There was a small window where Lenin was allowing some people to leave under certain circumstances and she managed to get out to go do research on film in in the United States. Everybody knew everybody who knew her knew she would never come back, that this was a one way ticket. And she got out. She made it to Chicago, spent a few weeks in Chicago and then headed to Hollywood.
She wanted to write scripts.
That was that was the that was the the goal here is this, you know, short woman from Russia with a strong accent, learning English, showing up in Hollywood.
And I want to be a script writer in English, in English, writing, in English. And and this is kind of one of these fairy tale stories. But it's true. She shows up at the Cecil B. DeMille Studios and she she has a letter of introduction from her cousin in Chicago who owns a movie theater. And this is in the nineteen, the late 1920s. And she shows up there with this letter and they say, you know, don't call us, we'll call you kind of thing.
And she steps out and there's this massive convertible. And in the convertible is Cecil B. DeMille. And he's driving slowly past her right at the entrance of the studio. And she stares at him and he stops the Connie says, you know, why are you staring at me? And she says, you know, she tells him story information. You know, when I want to make it in the movies, I want to be a scriptwriter one day. And he says, well, if you want to if you want that, you don't get in the car.
She gets in the car and he takes her to the backlot of a studio where they're filming The King of Kings, The Story of Jesus. And he says he has a past full week.
If you want to be if you want to write for the movies, you better know how movies are made. And she basically spends a week and she spends more time there. She managed to get an extension. She ends up being an extra in the movie. So you can see my man there in one of the masses when Jesus is walking by. And she met her future husband on the sets of of the king of Kings. She ends up getting married, getting her American citizenship that way.
And she lands up doing odds and ends jobs in Hollywood, living in a tiny little apartment, somehow making a living. Her husband was an actor. He was struggling.
Actors were difficult times. And in the evenings, studying English, writing, writing, writing, writing and studying and studying, studying. And she she finally makes it by writing a play that that is successful in in L.A. and ultimately goes to Broadway. And she writes, Her first novel is a novel called With a Living, which is the most autobiographical of all her novels. It's about a young woman in the Soviet Union. It's a powerful story, a very moving story, and probably, if not the best, one of the best portrayals of life under communism.
And so you would recommend the book? Definitely recommend With a Living. It's a first first novel she wrote in the thirties. And it didn't go anywhere, because if you think about the intelligentsia, the the the people who mattered, the people who wrote book reviews, this is a time of Durante in Who's The New York Times guy in Moscow who is praising Stalin to the hilt and the success. So the novel fails, but she's got a novel out.
She writes a small novel called Anthem. A lot of people have read that. And it's it's read in high schools. It's kind of dystopian novel, and it won't it doesn't get published. Then the US gets published in the U.K., UK is very interested in dystopian novels, Animal Farm and 1984 84 is published a couple of years after, I think after Anslem. There's reason to believe he read he read Anthem that and George Orwell and Animal Farm.
Yeah, just the small side. Animal Farm is probably top. I mean, it's weird to say, but I would say it's my favorite book, which is have you seen this movie out now called Mr. Jones Now or you've got to see Mr. Jones. What's Mr. Jones? It's sorry for my ignorance. No, no, it's a movie. It hasn't got any publicity, which is tragic because it's a really good movie, is both brilliantly made. It's made by a Polish director, but it's in English.
It's a it's a true story. And George Orwell's Animal Farm is featured in it in the sense that during the story, George Orwell was writing Animal Farm and and he's the narrator is reading off sections of Animal Farm as the movie is progressing. Yeah. And the movie is a true story about the first Western journalists to discover and to write about the famine in Ukraine. And so he goes to Moscow and then he gets on a train and he finds himself in Ukraine.
And it's it's it's beautifully and horrifically made. So the horror of the famine is brilliantly conveyed. And then and it's a true story. It's a very moving story, very powerful story and just very well-made movie. Such it's tragic, in my view, that not more people are seen that I was actually recently just complaining that there's not enough content on the farm in the thirties of, you know, of there's so much Hitler like I love. Yeah.
The reading I'm reading. It's so long. It's been taking me forever. The rise and fall of the Third Reich.
I love it, but I've got the book to complement that that you have to read. It's called The Ominous Parallels. It's Leonard Peikoff and it's the ominous parallels. And it's about it's about the causes of the rise of of of Hitler, but a philosophical causes. So whereas the rise and fall is more of a kind of the existential kind of what happened, but really delving into the intellectual intellectual currents that led to the rise of Hitler and maybe highly recommended, basically suggesting how it might rise.
Another that's the ominous parallel to that parallel he draws is to the United States. And he says those same intellectual forces are rising in the United States. And this is this was published, I think, in published in eighty one eighty two was published in 82. So it's published a long time ago. And yet you look around us and it's unbelievably predictive, sadly, about the state of the world. So I haven't finished doing that story.
I don't want to I don't know if you want me to know, but on that point, I'll have to let's please return to it. But let's now for now, let me also say, just because I don't forget about Mr Jones, it is to the point you made. There are tons of movies that are antifascist, anti Nazi. But they're way too few movies that are anti-communist, just almost not, and it's very interesting, and if you remind me later, I'll tell you a story about that.
But so she publishes Anthem and and then she starts and she's doing OK in Hollywood and she's doing OK with with the play. And then she starts on her own on the book The Fountainhead, and she writes The Fountainhead. And it comes out she finishes it in 1945 and she's she sends it to publishers and publishers have to publish.
You have to publish to turn it down. And it takes 12 publishers before this, this editor reads it and says, I want to publish this book, and he basically tells his bosses, if you don't publish this book, I'm leaving it.
And they don't really believe in the book. So they published just a few copies. They don't do a lot. And the book becomes a bestseller from Word of Mouth, and they end up having to publish more and more and more. And and it's you know, she's basically gone from this immigrant who comes here with very little command of English and it to all kinds of odds and ends jobs in Hollywood to, you know, writing one of the seminal, I think, American books.
She is an American author. I mean, if you read The Fountainhead, it's not Russian.
This is not the U.S. It feels it feels like a symbol of what America is in the 20th century. And I mean, probably maybe you can. So there's a famous kind of sexual rape scene in there. Is that is that like a lesson you want to throw in some controversial stuff to make your philosophical books work out? I mean, is that why why was it so popular? Do you have a sense? Well, because I think it illustrated, first of all, because I think the characters are fantastic.
It's got a real hero.
And I think the whole book is basically illustrating this massive conflict that I think went on in America then is going on today. And it goes on on a big scale politics all the way down to the scale of the choices you make in your life. And and the issue is individualism versus collectivism. Should you live for yourself? Should you live with your values? Should you pursue your passions? Should you or should you do what your mother tells you? Should you follow your mother's passions?
And that's in it's it's it's very, very much an individual book about individuals. And people relate to that. But it obviously has this massive implications to the world outside. And at the time of collectivism just having be defeated, communism. Well, not fascism. And in and, you know, the United States representing individualism is defeated, defeated collectivism. But we're collectivist ideas are still popular in the form of socialism and communism.
And for the individual, this constant struggle between what people tell me to do, what society tells me to do, what my mother tells me to do and what I think I should do. I think it's unbelievably appealing, particularly to young people who are trying to figure out what they want to do in life, trying to figure out what's important in life. It had this enormous appeal is romantic. It's bigger than life. The characters are big heroes. It's very American in that sense.
It's about individualism. It's about the triumph of individualism. And so I think that's what related.
And it had this big romantic element for me. I mean, when I used romantic I music, it kind of in the sense of a movement in art.
But it also has this romantic element in the sense of a relationship between a man and a woman who's that's very intriguing. It's not only that there's a I would say almost rape scene. Right. I would say.
But it's also that this woman is hard to understand. I mean, I've read it more than once, and I still can't quite figure out Dominique. Right, because she loves him and she wants to destroy him and she marries other people. I mean, you think about that, too. Yes. She's writing a book in the nineteen forties. It's there's lots of sex. There's a woman who marries more than one person has having sex with more than one person, very unconventional.
She's getting married, she's having sex with work, even though she's not married to work. This is nineteen forty five. And it's it's very jarring to people. It's very unexpected. But it's also a book of its time. It's about individuals pursuing their passion, pursuing their life and not caring about convention and, and what people think, but doing what they think is right.
And and so, so I think it's I encourage everybody to read it, obviously.
So that was was that the first time she articulated articulated something that sounded like a philosophy of individualism?
I mean, the philosophy is there and we the living right. Because at the end of the day, the woman is the hero. We the living is this individual stuck in Soviet Union. So she's struggling with these things. So the theme is there already. It's not as fleshed out. It's not as articulated philosophically. And it's certainly then Anthem, which is a dystopian novel where this dystopian future has a has there's no AI, everything is we. And it's about one guy who breaks out of that, I don't want to give it away, but but breaks out of that.
So these themes are running and then we have and they've been published some of the early Ayn Rand stories that she was writing in preparation for writing her novel. So she was writing when she first came to America. And you can see the same philosophical elements, even in the male female relationships and the passion and the use in the conflict. You see them even in those early pieces and she's just developing the same philosophically. She's developing her philosophy with her literature.
And of course, after The Fountainhead, she starts on what turns out to be her magnum opus, which is Atlas Shrugged, which takes the 12 years to publish. By the time, of course, she brings that out. Every publisher in New York wants to publish it because The Fountainhead has been such a huge success. They don't quite understand it. They don't know what to do with Atlas Shrugged, but they're eager to to get it out there.
And indeed, it when it's published, it becomes an instant bestseller. And the thing about the particularly the phone hit and I was struck by a of of even anthem and with a living.
She is one of the only dead authors that sell more after they've died than when I was your life. Now, you know that's true. Maybe music we listen to more Beethoven than when he was alive, but it's not true typically of novelists. And yet here we are. You know, was it 50, 60 years after the 63 years after the publication of Atlas Shrugged? And it sells probably more today than it sold when he was a best seller, when it first came out.
Is it true that it's like one of the most sold books in history?
No, I think it's kind of a Tom Clancy book comes out, sells more than Atlas Shrugged or read ever.
So they was a very and I should say this, but it's the truth. I'll say it. A very unscientific study done by the Smithsonian Institute probably in the early 90s that basically surveyed CEOs and asked them, what is the most influential book on you? And Atlas Shrugged came out as number two, the second most influential book and CEOs in the country. But there's so many flaws in the study. One was, you want to guess what the number one book, Bible, the Bible, but the Bible was like, you know, so maybe they over 100 people.
I don't know what exact numbers were, but let's say it's one hundred people and 60 said the Bible and ten said Atlas Shrugged. And there were a bunch of books on it.
So that's, again, the psychology of discussion we're having.
Well, and it's it's one thing I've learned and maybe covid has taught me and and know. But, you know, there are very few people who know how to do statistics and almost nobody knows how to think probabilistically. That is, think in terms of probabilities that it is a skill, it's a hard skill. And everybody thinks they know it's I see doctors thinking the statisticians and giving whole analysis of the data on covid and they don't have a clue what they're talking about, not because there are good doctors, because not good statisticians.
It's not the you know, people think that they have one skill and therefore translate immediately into another skill. And it's just not true.
So I've been astounded at how bad people are at that. For people who haven't read any of the books they were just discussing, what would you recommend, what book would you recommend they read? And maybe also just elaborate, what mindset should they enter the reading of that book with?
So I would recommend to everybody read Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and in that order. So it would depend on where you are in life.
So it depends on who you are and what you also found.
Here's a more personal story. For many people, it's their favorite and for many people is their first book. And they wouldn't replace that, right? If Atlas Shrugged is a it's about the world, right, it's about what impacts the world, how the world functions, how it's a bigger book in the sense of the scope, if you that if you're interested in politics and you're interested in the world, read Atlas Shrugged first.
If you're mainly focused on your life, your career, what you want to do with yourself, start with fun. I still think you should read both, because I think they are. I mean, to me they were life altering and to many, many people the life altering.
And you should go into reading them with an open mind, I'd say, and with a put aside everything you've heard about Rand put aside any even if it's true, just put it aside. Even what I just said about it and put it aside. Just read the book is a book. And let it move you. Let let let your thoughts, let it shape how you think and it'll have it either have you'll either have a response to it or you won't.
But I think most people have a very strong response to it. And then the question is. Do they are they willing to respond to the philosophy? Are they willing to integrate the philosophy they will need to think through the philosophy or not? Because I know a lot of people who completely disagree with the philosophical philosophy here in Hollywood. Lots of people here in Hollywood love The Fountainhead. Interesting. Oliver Stone, who is, I think, a avowed Marxist.
I think he's I think he's admitted to being a Marxist. He has his movie, certainly reflect a Marxist theme, is a huge fan of The Fountainhead and is actually his dream project. He has said in public his dream project is to make fountain. Now, he would completely change it. He has movie directors do and he's actually outlined what the script would look like and it would be a disaster for the ideas of. But he loves the story because to him the story is about artistic integrity.
Yeah, and that's what he catches on.
And what he hates about the story is individualism. And I think that his movie ends with Howard work, joining some kind of commune of architects to do it for the love and don't do it for the money.
Interesting. So, yeah, so you can connect with you without the fuss. And before we get into the philosophy thing, I around. I saw my own personal experience, and I think it's one that people share, I've experienced this with two people, Ayn Rand and Nicha. When I brought up Ayn Rand, when I was in my early 20s, the number of eye rolls I got from sort of like advisors and so on, that. Of dismissal, I've seen that a little later in life about it, more and more specific concept in artificial intelligence and technical, where people decided this is this is a set of ideas that are acceptable and these sorts of ideas are not.
And they dismissed Ayn Rand. Without giving me any justification of why they dismissed her, except, oh, that's something you're into when you're 19 or 20, that's same thing people say, well, nature. Well, that's just something you do when you're in college and you take an intro to philosophy course. So I've never really heard anybody cleanly articulate. Their opposition to Ayn Rand in my own private little circles and so on, maybe one question I just want to ask is.
Why is there such opposition in Iran and maybe another way to ask the same thing is what's misunderstood about Ayn Rand?
So we haven't talked about the philosophy, so it's harder to answer right now.
We can return to if you think that's the right way to go.
Well, let me let me give a broad answer. And then and then we'll do the and then we'll return to it, because I think it's important to know something about her ideas.
She I think her philosophy challenges. Everything. It really does it shakes up the world, it challenges so many of our preconceptions, it challenges so many of the things that people take for granted as truth, from religion to morality to to politics to almost everything, is never quite being a thinker like her in the sense of really challenging everything and doing it systematically and having a complete philosophy that is a challenge to everything that has come before her.
Now, I'm not saying there aren't threads that connect. They are in politics. They might be a threat in morality. They might be a threat. But on every thing, there's just never been like it. And people are afraid of that because it challenges them to the core.
She's basically telling you to rethink almost everything, and that is that that people reject. The other thing that it does and this goes to this point about, oh, yeah, that's what you do when you're 14, 15. Right. She points out to them that they've lost something. They've lost their idealism. They've lost their youthful idealism. What is what makes youthfulness meaningful other than, you know, we're in better physical shape now, starting to feel because I'm getting old.
Yeah, when we're young, we you know, sometime in the teen years where this something that happens to human consciousness, we almost awaken a new we. We suddenly discover that we can think of ourselves. We suddenly discover that not everything our parents and our teachers tell us is true. We suddenly discover that this to our minds is suddenly available to us to discover the world and to discover truth. And it is a time of idealism. It's a time of woe.
I want and you know, the better teenagers I want to know about the world. I want to go out that I don't believe my parents. I don't believe my teachers.
And this is healthy. This is fantastic. And I want to go out and experiment and that gets us into trouble. But we do stupid things when we are teenagers. Why? Because we've experimenting. It's the experiential part of it. We want to go and experience life, but we're learning it's part of the learning process and we become risk takers because we want experience. But the risk is something we need to learn because we need to learn where the boundaries are.
And one of the damages that helicopter parents do is they prevent us from taking those risks so we don't learn about the world and we don't learn about where the boundaries are.
So the teenage years of these years of wonder that depressing when you're in them for a variety of reasons, which I think Parmelia have to do with culture, but also with oneself. But they are exciting that periods of discovery and. People get excited about ideas and good ideas, bad ideas, all kinds of ideas, and then what happens? We settle, we compromise.
Whether that happens in college, where we're taught that nothing exists and nothing matters and stop being and be a cynic's be whatever or whether it happens when we get married and get a job and have kids and are too busy and can't think about ideals and forget and get just get into the norm of conventional life, or whether it's because a mother, Pistorius, pesters us to get married and have kids and do all the things that she wanted us to do. We give up on those ideals.
And there's a sense in which Ayn Rand reminds them that they gave up as viciously. That's so beautifully put and so true. Yeah, it's. It's worth pausing on that. This dismissal, people forget the beauty of that curiosity. That's true in the scientific field, too, is. I mean, the youthful joy of, like, everything is possible and we can understand it with the tools of our mind. Yes, and that's what it's all about.
That's what Ayn Rand's ideas at the end of the day all boil down to, is that confidence and that passion and that curiosity and that interest. And if you think about what academia does for so many of us to we go into academia and we're excited about we're going to learn stuff, we're going to discover things, and then they stick you into some subfield and examining some minutia that's insignificant and unimportant. And and to get published, you have to be conventional.
You have to do what everybody else does. And then there's the 10 year process of seven years where they put you through this torture to write papers that fit into a certain mold. And by the time you're done, you in your mid 30s and you've done nothing, you discovered nothing. You all in this minutiae, in this stuff, and it's destructive in whis holding on to that patch and holding on to that knowledge.
And that confidence is hard. And when people do away with it, they become cynical and they become part of the system and they inflict the same pain on the next guy that they suffered because that's part of how it works.
Yeah, there's this happens in artificial intelligence. This happens when, like, a young person shows up and would like fire in their eyes and they say, I want to understand the nature of intelligence. And everybody rolls their eyes well for these same reasons, because they spent so many years and the very specific set of questions that. That kind of they compete over and the dry papers over in that conference is about and it's true those that incremental research is the way you make progress, answering the question of what is intelligence exceptionally difficult.
But when you market, you actually destroy the realities. When we look like centuries from now, we'll look back at this time for this particular field of artificial intelligence. It will be the people who will be remembered, will be the people who have asked the question and made it their life's journey of what is intelligence and actually had the chance to succeed. Most will fail asking that question. But the ones that they had a chance of succeeding and had that throughout their whole life.
And I suppose the same is true for philosophy. It's in every field.
It's it's it's asking the big questions and staying curious and staying passionate and staying excited and accepting failure by accepting that you're not going to get a first time, you're not going to get the whole thing.
But and sometimes you have to do the minutia work. And I'm not here to say nobody should specialize. You shouldn't do the minutia. You have to do that. But there has to be a way to do that work and keep the passion and keep and keep it all integrated. That's another thing.
I mean, we don't live in a culture that integrates great. We live in a culture that is all that is all about. You know, this minutia and not in medicine is another field where you you specialize in the kidney. I mean, the kidneys connected to other things. You've got to and we don't have a holistic view of these things. And I'm sure in artificial intelligence, you're not going to make the big leaps forward without a holistic view of what it is you're trying to achieve.
And maybe that's the question of what is intelligence. But that's the kind of questions you have to ask to make bigger leaps forward to really move the field in a positive direction. And it's the people who can think that way, who move fields and move technology. You move anything, anything is everything.
But you just said it's painful because underlying that kind of questioning is, well, maybe the work I've done for the past twenty years was was a dead end. And you have to kind of face that even just it might not be true, but even just facing that reality is it's just it's a it's a painful feeling. Absolutely. But but it's that's part of the reason why it's important. Enjoy the work that you do. Right. So that even if it doesn't completely worked out, going to vote, it was not a waste because you enjoyed the process.
And if you learn, as any entrepreneur knows is right, and if you learn from the waste, the time from the errors and the mistakes, then you can build on them and make things even better. Right. And so the next ten years, a massive success can be another impossible task.
So you did wonderfully and talked about and ran the other impossible task of giving a world one overview of the philosophy of objectivism philosophy of. Yeah.
So luckily she did it in an essay. She talks about doing a philosophy on one foot. But let me integrated with the literature and with a life a little bit. She wanted to be a writer. But her goal, she had a particular goal in her writing, she was an idealist. She wanted to portray the ideal man. So one of the things you do when you want to decide is what is an idea, man, you have to ask that question.
What does that mean? You might have a sense of it. You might have some glimpses of glimpses of it in other people's literature, but what is it? So she starts reading philosophy to try to figure out what it forces say about the ideal man. And what defines how a fighter in terms of the view of most philosophies of man and she's she's attracted certainly when she's young in nature because she at least has a vision of of of grandeur for man, even though his philosophy is very flawed and has other problems and contradicts Ayn Rand in many ways.
But at least he has that vision of what is possible to man. And she's attracted to that romantic vision, that idealistic vision. So she discovers in writing and particularly in writing, Atlas Shrugged, but even in the Fontanet that she's going to have to develop a philosophy. She's going to have to discover these ideas for herself because they're not fully articulated anywhere else. They're glimpses, again, of it in Aristotle in any shape, but they're not fully fleshed out.
So to a large extent, she develops a philosophy for very practical purpose, to write, to write a novel about the ideal man. And an Atlas Shrugged is the manifestation of that, by the way. Sorry to interrupt. As a little aside, she does when you say man, you mean human. And because we'll bring this up often she does. I mean, maybe you can elaborate of how she specifically uses man and he in the work we live in a time now.
Oh, well, she did that in in in a sense that everybody did it during her period of time. Right. It's only in modern times where we do. Higashi Right. It is stoically. When you said he you meant a human being in this particular context, implied that it was a bit indictment's case in this case. In this one sentence, he probably manman. Not that because she she viewed that there are differences between men and women were not the same, which comes as a shock to many people.
But she wasn't a character. She was working on a particular vision. She considered herself a man worshipper and a man not not human. Being a male male, she worshipped manhood, if you will, the hero in man. And she wanted to fully understand what that was. Now it has massive implications for the woman. And I think she does portray the ideal woman in in in Atlas Shrugged in the character of Dagny.
But her goal. Is. You know, I think a selfish go for what she wanted to get out of the novel, is that excitement possibly sexual about seeing your video manifest in reality of what you perceive as the that which you would be attracted to fully, intellectually, physically, sexually in every aspect of your life?
That's what she's trying to bring in.
So there is no ambiguity of gender. So there was a masculinity and a femininity in her work?
Very much so. And if you read the novels, you see that. You see that. Now, remember, this is in the context of an Atlas Shrugged. She is portraying a woman. Who runs a railroad the most masculine of all jobs you can imagine, right, running a railroad better than any man can run it? Yes, and achieving huge success. Better than any other man out there, but.
But for her, even Dagny needs somebody needs a man in some sense to look up to.
Yeah, and that's the character whose name I won't mention because it gives away too much of the plot. But there has to.
I like how you do that. You're good. You're not a lot of nothing brilliant because you convey all the important things without giving away plot lines.
That's beautiful. Your master. So she's she's very much she say she described herself once as a male chauvinist.
She very she likes the idea of a man opening a door for a but more metaphysically.
She identifies something in the difference between the way a man relates to a woman and a woman relates to men.
It's not the same.
And let's not take too far of a tangent, but I just a side comment. I mean, she represented she was a feminist to me, perhaps there's a perhaps technically, philosophically, you disagree with that? Whatever, but the you know, that to me represented strong, like she had some of the strongest female characters in the history of literature. And again, this is this is a woman running a railroad in nineteen seven and not just a woman running around a statue of The Fountainhead as well, a woman who is sexually.
In a sense, sort of sexually open. This is this is not a woman who this is a woman who who embraces her sexuality and, you know, sex is important in life.
This is why coming up, if it was important to when it was it's important in the novels. It's important in life.
And for one's attitude towards sex is a reflection of one's attitude towards life and what attitude towards pleasure, which is an important part of life. And she thought that was an incredibly important thing. And so she has these sort of powerful sexual women. Who lived their lives on their terms 100 percent. Who seek a man to look up to? Yeah, now this psychologically complex, more psychology, the phosphine, it's psychologically complex and not my area of expertise.
But this is this something.
And she would argue there's something fundamentally different about a male and a woman, but a male and female psychologically in the attitude towards one another.
But as a side note, I say that I would say that I don't know philosophically if her ideas about gender are interesting. I think or other philosophical ideas are much more interesting. But reading wise and like the stories created the tension and created, that was pretty powerful. I mean, that was that's that's pretty powerful stuff.
I'll speculate that the reason it's so powerful is because it reflects something in reality. Yeah, that's true. This is the thread that at least and it's really important to say she I think she was the first feminist in a sense. I think in a sense, the feminists, the perverted feminism into something that it shouldn't be, but in the sense of men and women are capable. She was the first one who really put that into a novel and showed it to me as a as a as a as a boy when I was reading Atlas Shrugged, I think I read that before fun had.
That was one of the early introductions, at least, of an American woman that examples in my own life for Russian women, but of like a badass lady like I admire like I love engineering and love that she could, you know, here's a lady as running the show. So that, at least to me, was an example of a really strong woman. But Objectivism, Objectivism, so and so she developed it for a novel. She spent the latter part of her life after the publication of Atlas Shrugged really articulating a philosophy.
So that's what she did. She applied it to politics, to life, to gender, to all these issues from nineteen fifty seven until she died in. So the objectivism was born out of the later parts of Atlas Shrugged.
Yes, definitely. It was there all the time, but it was fleshed out during the last possible Shugden and articulated for the next 20 years. So what is Objectivism subjectivism. So there are five branches in philosophy and in.
So I'm going to just go through the branches. She starts with you start with metaphysics, the nature of reality. And Objectivism argues that reality is what it is. It's kind of goes harkens back to Aristotle of identity.
A is a you can wish it to be, but wishes to not make something real. Reality is what it is. And it is the primary. And it was it's it's not it's not manipulated, directed by consciousness. Consciousness is there to, you know, to observe to to give us information about reality. That is the purpose of consciousness and it's the nature of it. So in metaphysics, existence exists a the law of identity, the law of causality.
Things are the things act based on their nature, not randomly, not arbitrarily, based on their nature.
And then we have the tool to know reality. This is epistemology, the theory of knowledge, a tool to know reality is reason. It's our senses and our capacity to integrate the information we get from our senses and integrate it into new knowledge and to conceptualize it. And and that is uniquely human.
We don't we don't know the truth from revelation. We don't know truth from our emotions. Emotions are interesting. Our emotions tell us something about ourselves. But our emotions are not tools of cognition. They don't tell us the truth about what's out there, about what's in reality. So reason as a means of knowledge and therefore reason as a means of survival. Only individuals reason just in the same way that only individuals can eat, we don't have a collective stomach, nobody can eat for me and therefore nobody can think for me.
We don't have a collective mind. There's no collective consciousness, none. It's bizarre that people talk about these collectivised aspects of the mind. They don't talk about collective feats and collective stomachs and collective things. But so we all think for ourselves and it is our fundamental basic responsibility to live our lives. To live to choose the ones we choose to live, to live our lives to the best of our ability. So in morality, she is an egoist.
She believes that the purpose of morality is to provide you with a code of values and virtues, to guide your life for the purpose of your own success, your own survival, your own thriving, your own happiness. Happiness is the moral purpose of your life. The purpose of morality is to guide you towards a happy life, your own happiness, your own happiness, absolutely your own happiness. So she rejects the idea that she should live for the people, that you should live for the purpose of other people's happiness.
Your purpose is not to make them happy or to make them anything. Your purpose is your own happiness. But she also rejects the idea that you could argue maybe the channa idea of you should use other people for your own purposes. So every person is an end in himself. Every person's moral responsibility is their own happiness. And you shouldn't use other people for your own, shouldn't exploit other people's unhappiness, and you shouldn't be allow yourself to be exploited by other people.
Every individual is responsible for themselves. And what is it that allows us to be happy? What is it that facilitates human flourishing, human success, human survival? Well, it's the use of our minds. It goes goes back to reason. And what is the reason require in order to to be successful, in order to to work effectively? It requires freedom, so the enemy of reason, the enemy of reason is force, the enemy of reason of coercion, the enemy of reason is authority.
The Catholic Church doing what they did to Galileo, that restricts Galileo thinking when he is in house arrest, is he going to come up with a new theory?
Is he going to discover new truths? No, it's the punishment is too you know, it's too dangerous.
So force coercion are enemies of reason. And what reason needs is to be free to to think, to, to discover, to innovate, to break out of convention. So we need to create an environment in which individuals are free to reason to free to think.
And to do that, we will come up with a concept.
Historically, we've come up with the concept of individual rights, individual rights, define the scope of that, define the fact that we should be left alone, free to pursue our values, using our reason.
Free of what?
Free of coercion, force of thought, and that the job of government is to make sure that we are free. The whole point of government, the whole point of when we come in a social context. The whole point of establishing governance in that context is. To secure that freedom, it's to make sure that I don't use coercion on you, the government is supposed to stop, supposed to intervene before I can do that or if I've already done it to prevent me from doing it again.
So the purpose of government is to protect our freedom, to think and to act based on our thoughts. It's to leave individuals free to pursue their values, to pursue their happiness, to pursue their rational thought and to be left alone to do it. And so she rejects socialism, which which basically assumes some kind of collective goal, assumes the sacrifice of the individual to the group, assumes that your moral purpose in life is the well-being of other people rather than your own.
And and she rejects all form of statism, all form of government that is, you know, overly that that is involved in any aspect other than to protect us from forced coercion authority. And she rejects anarchy.
And we can talk about that. I think you had a question and the list of questions you sent me about anarchism, colorless, about anarchy. So, yes, I don't know if you're familiar with him. Yes, I'm familiar with him. So.
So, yes, if you would completely reject anarchy. Anarchy is completely inconsistent with their point of view. And we can talk about why, if you want. So there is some perfect place where freedom is maximized. So systems of government that. Absolutely. And she thought that the American system of government came close in its idea, obviously founded with original sin, with the sin of slavery. But in its conception, the Declaration of Independence is about as perfect a political document as one could write.
I think the greatest political document in human history, but really articulated almost perfectly and beautifully and that America is a with the checks and balances balances, which is with its emphasis on individual rights, with its emphasis on freedom, with its emphasis on Ledet leaving individual free to pursue their happiness and explicit recognition of happiness as a goal. Individual happiness. It was the model. It wasn't perfect, though, a lot of problems to a large extent because the founders had mixed philosophical premises.
So so they were their alien premises introduced into the founding of the country.
Slavery obviously being the biggest problem, but it was close and we need to build on that to create an ideal political system that will, yes, maximize the freedom of individuals to do exactly this.
And then, of course, she had so that's kind of that's the manifestation of this individualism in the political realm. And she had a theory of art. She had a theory of aesthetics, which is the fifth branch of of of she have metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and politics. And the fifth branch is aesthetics. And she viewed art as an essential human need, if you will, for the human spirit. And they're just like any human need. It had certain principles that it had to abide by.
That is just like this nutrition. Right. So some food is good for you and some food is bad for you. Some food, some stuff is poison. She believes the same is true of art, that art had an identity which is very controversial today. Right. You know, today it's if you put a frame around it, it is art a universal you in a in a museum, it becomes art, which he thought was it was evil and ludicrous.
And she rejected completely that art had an identity and that it served a certain function that human beings needed it. And if it didn't have, not only did it have to have their identity, but that function was served well by some art and poorly by other art.
And then there's a whole realm of stuff that's not art. Basically, all of all of what today is considered modern art. She would consider not being art, you know, splashing paint on a canvas, not art.
So she had very clear ideas. She articulated them not. So I would say not in conventional philosophical form, so she didn't write philosophical essays using the philosophers language, it's white partially why? I think philosophers have never taken a seriously. They're actually accessible to us. We can actually read them.
And she integrates the philosophy and what I think are amazing ways with psychology, with history, with economics, with politics, with what's going on in the world. And she has dozens and dozens and dozens of essays that she wrote. Many of them were aggregated into books.
I particularly recommend books like The Virtue of Selfishness, Capitalism, The Unknown Ideal and Philosophy, Who Needs It?
And, you know, it's it's a I think it's a it's a it's a beautiful philosophy. You know, I know you're big on love. I think it's a philosophy of love. We can talk about that. Essentially, it's about love. That's what the philosophy is all about when it apply in terms of applying to self. And, you know, I think it's sad that so few, so few people read it and so few intellectuals take it seriously and are willing to engage with it.
Let me ask. That was incredible. Back to that beautiful whirlwind overview. Let me ask the most shallow of questions, which is the name Objectivism.
Of where like how should people think about the name being rooted, why not individualism? What are the options if we had a branding meeting right now?
Sure. So she actually had a branding meeting. So she she did this. You went through the exercise objectives. I do not think I don't know all the details, but I don't think Objectivism was the first name she came with.
The problem was that the other names were taken and they were not positive implications that so, for example, rationalism could have been a good one because she's an advocate of rational thought or reason ism. But reason ism sounds weird. The ism because of too many S's, I guess, rationalism, but it was already a philosophy and it was a philosophy inconsistent with hers because it was it was a it was a what she considered a false view of reason of rationality, reality ism, you know, just doesn't work.
So she came on Objectivism and I think actually. It's a great word, it's a great name because it it's it has two aspects to it, and this is a unique view of what objectivity actually means in Objectivism. In objectivity is the idea of an independent reality. There is truth.
It is actually something that we. And then. There's the wall of consciousness, right, there is the wall of figuring out the truth, the truth doesn't just hit you. The truth is not in the thing. You have to discover it. It's that it's that a consciousness apply to.
That's what objectivity is, right, it's you discovering the truth in reality, it's your consciousness interacting and thereby opposing the individual in that sense that only the individual could do.
Now, the problem with individualism is it would have made the philosophy too political. Right. And she always said so. She said she said, I'm an advocate of capitalism. Because I'm really an advocate for rational egoism, but I'm irrational. I mean, advocate, rational egoism, really, because I'm an advocate for reason.
So she viewed the essential of her philosophy as being this reason and who who particular view of reason. She has a whole book. She has a book called Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, which I encourage any scientist, mathematician, anybody interested in science to read because it is a tour de force on. Unh unh.
In a sense, what it means, the whole concept and what it means to discover new discoveries and use.
Do use concepts and how we use concepts, and she has a theory of concepts that is completely new. That is completely revolutionary and I think is essential for the philosophy of science and therefore ultimately for the more abstract we get with scientific discoveries, the easier it is to detach them from reality and to detach them from truth, the easier it is to be inside our heads instead of about what's real.
And they're probably examples from a physics that fit that. And I think what she teaches in the book is how to ground your concepts and how to bring them into grounding in reality. So introduction to Objectivists smiles. You know that it's only an introduction, because one of the things she realized, one of the things that I think a lot of her critics don't give enough credit for is that philosophy is there's no end. Right. It's always going to always new discoveries.
There's always it's like science. There's always new things. And and there's a ton of work to do in in philosophy and particularly in epistemology. And see, you acknowledge that she was actually giving you an interest in mathematics. She was she actually saw a lot of parallels between math and concept formation. Mm hmm.
And she was actually, you know, in the years before she died, she was taking private lessons in mathematics and algebra and calculus because she believed that there was real insight in understanding algebra in calculus to.
Philosophy into epistemology and and she also was very interested in neuroscience because she believed that that had a lot to tell us about epistemology, but also about music, therefore about aesthetics.
So, I mean, she recognized the importance of all these different fields and how in the beauty of philosophy, as it should be, integrating all of them. And one of the sad things about the world in which we live is, again, we view these things as silos.
We don't view them as integrating. We don't have teams of people from different Erina, different fields, you know, discovering things. We we become like ants specialized. So she was definitely like that. And she was constantly curious, constantly interested in new discoveries and new ideas and how this could expand the scope of her philosophy and application of her philosophy.
There's like a million topics to talk to you, but since you mentioned math, I only got three hours. Know, I'm almost curious. I don't know if you're familiar with Girls Incompleteness Theorem.
I'm not, unfortunately, is a powerful proof that any axiomatic systems, when you start from a bunch of axioms that there will in that system provably must be an inconsistency. So that was this painful, like stab in the idea of mathematics, that if we start with a set of assumptions, kind of like I started with Objectivism, there will have to be at least one contradiction.
So I intuitively am going to say that's false philosophically.
But in math, it's just true that it's a question about how you define, again, the definitions matter and you have to be careful how you define axioms and you have to be careful about what you define as an inconsistency and what that means to say. There's an inconsistency. And I don't know, I'm not going to say more than that because I don't know.
But I'm suspicious that there is some and this is the power of philosophy. And this is why I said before, concept formation is so important and understanding culture formation of support for particularly in mathematics, because it's such an abstract field and it's so easy to lose grounding in in reality that that if you properly define axioms and you properly define what you're doing in math, whether that is true and I don't think it is, this is I will leave it as an open mystery because actually this audience.
You know, there's literally over one hundred thousand people that have PDM, so they know Gaydos are completely there. I have this intuition that there is something different in mathematics and philosophy that I'd love to hear from people like what? What exactly is that difference? Because. There's a precision to mathematics that philosophy doesn't have, but that precision gets you in trouble, it's somehow actually takes you away from truth, like the very constraints of the language used in mathematics actually puts a constraint on the capture of truth is able to do.
I'm going to argue that that is a total product of the way you're conceptualizing the the terms within mathematics. It's not in reality. Yes.
So it's you would argue it's in the fact that mathematics in inasmuch as is detached from reality, that you can do these kinds of things. Yes.
And you and you and the mathematicians have. Come up with concept that. They haven't grounded in reality properly, that allows them to go off on on in places that have they don't need to choose. That's right. They don't need to.
But I encourage you then I encourage you to to to to do one of these podcasts with one of our philosophers who know more about about this stuff. And if you're if you move to Austin, I've got somebody I'd recommend to you and your name or. No. Yeah. I mean, I would I would I would talk to Greg Smeary only say our.
Can you say what you mean by our I'd say people who are affiliated with the administrative philosophies who are affiliated with Objectivism. Greg is one of our one of our brightest and he's in Austin. He's just got a position at UT University of Texas. And and he won on that would be another one who actually works at the institute and a chief philosophy officer at the institute. And and there are others who specialize in philosophy of science who who I think Greg could probably give you a lead.
But but these are unbelievably smart people who know this part of the philosophy much better than I do.
What can you just briefly perhaps say? What is the Rand Institute yesterday?
The NEA is an organization founded three years after nine men died. She died in 1982 and it was founded in nineteen eighty five to promote her ideas to make sure that her ideas and her novels continued in the culture and were relevant while the relevant but the people saw the relevance. So our mission is to get people to read her books, to engage in the ideas we teach. We have the Objectivist Academic Center, where we teach the philosophy primarily to graduate students and others who take the ideas seriously and who really want a a deep understanding of the philosophy.
And we apply the ideas. So we take the ideas and apply them to ethics, to philosophy, to issues of the day, which is more my strength and more what what I tend to do. I you know, I've never I've never formally studied philosophy. So all my education philosophy is informal. And, you know, I'm an engineer and a finance guy. That's that's my background. So I'm I'm a numbers guy.
Well, let me. I feel pretty under. Educated have a pretty open mind, which sometimes can be painful on the Internet because people mock me or, you know, you know, if I say something nuanced about communism, people people immediately kind of put you in a bin or something like that. It hurts to be open minded to say, I don't know, to ask the question, why is communism or Marxism so problematic? Why is capitalism problematic?
And so on. But let me nevertheless go into that direction with you. Maybe let's talk about capitalism a little bit. How does Objectivism compare relate to the idea of capitalism?
Well, first, we have to define what capitalism is, because, again, people use capitalism in all kinds of ways. And I know you had ridolfo on on your show once. I have I need to listen to that episode. But we has no clue what capitalism is. And that's that's that's that's his big problem. So when he when he says there are real problems today in capitalism, he's not talking about capitalism. He's talking about problems in the world today.
And I agree with many of the problems, but they have nothing to do with capitalism.
Capitalism is this is is a social, political economic system in which all property is privately owned and in which the only role of government is the protection of individual rights. I think it's the ideal system. I think it's the right system for the reasons we talked about earlier, it's a system that leaves you as an individual to pursue your values, your life, your happiness, free of coercion, of force. And if in and you get to decide what happens to you and I get to decide if to help you or not, if you let's say you fall flat on your face, people always say, well, what about the poor?
Well, if you if you care about the poor, help them.
Right. Just don't you know, what do you need a government for? You know, I always ask audiences, OK, if there's a if there's a poor kid who can't afford to go to school and all schools are private because capitalism is being instituted and he can't go to school, would you be willing to participate in a fund that pays for his education? Every hand in the room goes up. So what do you need government for?
Just let's let's let's get all the money together and pay for school. So the point is that what capitalism does is leave individuals free to make their own decisions.
And as long as they're not violating other people's rights in other ways, as long as they're not using coercion force on other people, then leave them alone and people are going to make mistakes and people are going to screw up their lives and people are going to commit suicide. People are going to do terrible things to themselves. That is fundamentally their problem. And if you want to help you under capitalism, are free to help. It's just the only thing that doesn't happen on the campus is you don't get to impose your will on other people.
How is that happening? So the question then is how does the implementation of capitalism deviate from its ideal in practice?
I mean, this is what is the question with a lot of systems is how does it start to then fail? So one thing, maybe you can correct me. And for me, it seems like information is very important, like being able to make decisions to be free. You have to have access, full access of all the information you need to make rational decisions. No, I can't just because it can be because none of us has full access to all the information we need.
I mean, what does that even mean and how how big how much of the scope do you want? Let's just start there. Yes. So you need you need to have access to information. So one of the big criticisms of capitalism is this asymmetrical information. The drug maker has more information about the drug than the drug Bayer, the pharmaceutical drugs. True, it's a problem. Well, I wonder if one can think about an entrepreneur, can think about how to solve that problem.
See, I view any one of these challenges to capitalism as an opportunity for entrepreneurs to make money, and they have the freedom to do it, especially on entrepreneurs steps in and says, I will test all the drugs the drug companies make and I will provide you for free with with the answer.
And how do I know he's not he's not going to be corrupted? Well, there'll be other ones and they'll compete. And who am I to tell which one of these is the right one?
Well, we won't be. You really getting the information from them. It'll be your doctor.
The doctors need that information. So the doctor who has some expertise in medicine will be evaluating which rating agency to use, they valuate the drugs and which ones then to recommend to you.
So do we need an FDA?
Do we need a government that siphons all the information to one source, that does all the research, all the things, and has a clear incentive, by the way, not to approve drugs? There's not because they don't make any money from it. They nobody pays them for the information. Nobody pays them to be accurate, their bureaucrats, the date of the day. And what does a bureaucrat what's the main focus of a bureaucrat? Even if they go in with the best of intentions, which I'm sure all the scientists at the FDA have the best of intentions.
What's the incentive that the system builds in this incentive not to screw up because one drug gets Pellew? It does damage you lose your job, but if 100 drugs, it could cure cancer tomorrow, don't ever get to market. Nobody is going to nobody's going to come after you. Yeah.
And you're saying that's not that's not a mechanism. That's. The marketplace is competition, so if you don't approve the drug, if I still think it's possible, I will. And it's not zero one. You see, the other thing that happens with the FDA, zero one, it's either proved, it's not approved.
It's approved for this, but it's not approved for that. But what if what if what if a drug came out and you said you told the doctors.
This drug in 10 percent of the cases can cause patients an increased risk of heart disease, you and your patients should, we're not forcing you, but you should write that your medical responsibility to evaluate that and decide if the drug is appropriate or not.
Why don't I get to make that choice if I want to take on the 10 percent risk of heart disease? So there was a drug and right now I forget the name, but it was a drug against pain, particularly for arthritic pain. And it worked. It reduced pain dramatically. Right. And some people tried everything. And this was the only drug that would use the pain. And it turned out that in 10 percent of the cases it it caused the elevated risk didn't kill people necessarily, but it caused elevated risk of heart disease.
OK, what did the FDA do? It banned the drug. Some people I know, a lot of people who said living with pain. Is much worse than taking on a 10 percent risk, again, probabilities, right? People don't think in those 10 percent risk of maybe getting heart disease. Why don't I get to make that choice? Why do some bureaucrat make that choice for me? That's capitalism. Capitalism gives you the choice, not you.
As an ignorant person, you with your doctor and and a whole marketplace which is not created to provide you with information.
And think about think about a world where we didn't have all these regulations and controls the amount of opportunities that would exist to create, to provide information, to educate you about that information would mushroom dramatically. You know, Bloomberg, the billionaire, Bloomberg, how did he make his money? He made his money by providing financial information, by creating this service called Bloomberg, that you buy a terminal and you get all this amazing information that you was before, computers, desktop computers.
I mean, he was very early on in that whole computing revolution, but his focus was providing financial information to professionals.
And you hire a professional to manage your money. That's the way it's supposed to be, you know, you have to have. So you as an individual cannot have all the knowledge you need in medicine, all the knowledge you need and finance, all the knowledge you need in every aspect of your life. You can't do that. You have to delegate and you hire a doctor. Now, you should be able to figure out if the doctor is good or not.
You should be able to ask doctors for reasons for why you have to make the decision at the end. But that's why you have doctors where you have a financial adviser. That's where you have different people who you're delegating certain aspects of your life to. But you want choices.
And what the marketplace provides is those choices. So let's let me then. This is what I do. I'll make a dumb case for things. And then you shut me down and then the Internet says, how dumb luck. This is good.
This is I'm good at shutting down. And they're foolish in blaming you for the question because, well, you're here to ask me questions.
Just make let me make a case for socialism.
So it's going to be bad because there is the social right. That's reality. So and then perhaps it's not a case for socialism, but just a certain notion that inequality, the wealth inequality, that the bigger the gap between the poorest or the average and the richest, the the more painful it is to be average. Psychologically speaking, if you know that there is the CEOs of companies make three hundred thousand one million times more than you do, that makes life for large part of the population less fulfilling, that there's a relative notion to the experience of our life that even though everybody's life has gotten better over the past decades and centuries, it may feel actually worse.
Because, you know, that life could be so, so much better in life to the CEOs, that that gap is fundamentally a thing that is undesirable in a society. Everything about that is wrong. I like to start off like that, which so yeah, I mean, so my wife likes to remind me.
That as well as we've done in life, we are actually, from a wealth perspective, closer to a homeless person than we are to Bill Gates. Just a math, right?
Just a math, right. When I look at Bill Gates, I get a smile on my face.
I love Bill Gates. I've never met. I love Bill Gates. I love what he stands for. I love that he has one hundred billion dollars.
I love that he has built a trampoline room in his house where kids can jump up and down and trampoline in a safe environment.
Take another billionaire, because I'm not sure if you're paying attention, but there's all kinds of conspiracy theories about Bill Gates or. But that's part of the story, right? They have to pull him down because people resent him. And the other reason that. But, yes, we can take Jeff Bezos. We can say my favorite is dog because I like I like a lot about him was with Steve Jobs.
I mean, I love these people and I can't the very few billionaires I don't love in a sense that I appreciate everything they've done for me, for people I cherish and love.
They've made the world a better place. Why would it ever cross my mind? That they make me look bad because they're richer than me or that I don't have what they have, they've made me so much richer. That they've made inventions that used to cost millions and millions and millions of dollars accessible to me. I mean, this is a supercomputer.
Yeah. In my pocket now, but think about it, right? What is the difference between and I'll get to the essence of your point in a minute, but think about what the differences between me and Bill Gates in terms of because it's true that in terms of wealth, I'm closer to the homeless person. But in truth, in terms of my day to day life, I'm closer to Bill Gates. Know we both live in a nice house.
His is nicer, but we live in a nice house.
His is bigger, but mine is plenty big. We both do because his is nicer, but we both drive cars cause 100 years ago what cost we both flight. Can flight get on a plane in Los Angeles and fight in New York and get in about the same time we're both flying private. The only difference is my private plane I share with three hundred other people and his he. But it's accessible. It's relatively comfortable. Again, in the perspective of 50 years ago, one hundred years ago, it's unimaginable that I could fly like that for such a low fee.
We live very similar lives in that sense, so I don't resent him. So first of all, I'm an exception to the supposed rule that people resent.
I don't think anybody I don't think people do resent it unless they're taught to isn't. And this is the key people are taught and I've seen this in America and this is to me. The most horrible, shocking thing that has happened in America over the last 40 years, I came to America, so I'm an immigrant that came to America from Israel in nineteen eighty seven. And I came here because I thought this was the place where I could where it had the most opportunities and it is the most opportunities.
And I came here because I believed there was a certain American spirit of individualism and exactly the opposite of what you just described a sense of I live my life, it's my happiness. I'm not looking at my neighbor. I'm not competing with the Joneses. The American dream is my dream, my two kids, my dog, my station wagon, not because other people have it, because I want it. And that sense. And when I came here in the 80s, you had that you had you still had it.
And it was less than I think it had been in the past.
But you had that spirit. There was no envy. There was no resentment. There were rich people. And and they were celebrated. There was still this admiration for entrepreneurs and admiration for success, not by everybody, certainly not by the intellectuals, but by the average person I have witnessed, particularly over the last ten years, a complete transformation.
And America's become like Europe. I know a Russian. Yeah. Yeah. It's become Russian in a sense, where, you know, they've always done these studies. You know, I'll give you one hundred dollars and your neighbor one hundred dollars. I'll give you what is it or give you a thousand dollars.
But your neighbor gets ten thousand dollars and a Russian will always choose one hundred dollars. Right. He wants equality about being better himself. Yeah. Americans would always choose that guy. And my sense is not anymore. And it's changing because. We've been told it should change and morally you're saying that doesn't make any sense. So there's no sense in which. Let me put another spin. I forget the book, but the sense of if you're working for Steve Jobs and you your hands, you're the engineer behind the iPhone and there's a sense in which his salary is stealing from your efforts, because I forget the book.
Right. That's literally the terminology is. This is straight out of Karl Marx. Sure. It's also true. But other comics. But there's no sense, morally speaking, that you see that as another way.
Well, that engineer stealing off of it and it's not stealing. It's not.
But the engineers getting more from Steve Jobs by a lot, not by a little bit than Steve Jobs is getting from engineer, the engineer. Even if they were a great engineer, they probably are the great engineers who could replace the. Would he even have a job without Steve Jobs, would the industry exist without Steve Jobs, without the giants that carry these things forward? Let me ask you this. I mean, you're a scientist. Yes. You isn't Einstein for being smarter than you.
I mean, you and VMT, do you are you angry with it? Would you would you would you feel negative towards him if he was in the room right now or would you if you came into the room, you'd say, oh, my God. I mean, you interview people who I think some of them are probably smarter than you and me for sure. And your attitude towards them is one of reverence.
Well, one interesting little side question there is what is the natural state of being for us humans? You kind of implied education has polluted our minds. But like, if I can, because you're referring to jealousy, the Einstein question, the Steve Jobs question, I wonder which way. If we're left without education, we naturally go.
So there is no such thing as the natural state in that sense. Right.
This is this is the myth of of Rousseau's noble savage and of John Walls is behind the veil of ignorance. Well, if you're ignorant, you're ignorant. You can't make any decisions. You just ignorant you. There is no human nature that determines how you will relate to other people. You will relate to other people based on the conclusions you come to about how to relate to other people. You can relate to other people as values. To use your terminology from the perspective of love, this other human being is a value to me and I want to trade with them and trade the beauty of trade.
Is it win win? I want to benefit and they are going to benefit. I don't want to screw them. I don't want them to screw me. I want us to be win win. Or you can deal with other people's threats as enemies. Much of human history we have done that. And therefore, as a zero sum world, what they have I want. I will take it, I will use force to take it, I will use political force that they will use the force of my arm to take it, I will just take it.
So those are two options, right. And they will determine whether we live in civilization or not. And they are determined by conclusions.
People come to about the world and the nature of reality and the nature of morality and the nature of politics and all these things. They are determined by philosophy. And this is why philosophy so important because of philosophy shapes its evolution doesn't do this. It doesn't just happen. Ideas shape how we relate to other people. And you say, well, little children do it. Well, little children don't have a frontal cortex. Why it's not relevant, right?
What happens as you develop a frontal cortex, as you develop the brain, you learn ideas and those ideas will shape how you relate to other people. And if you look good ideas, you will lead to other people in a healthy, productive, winwin. And if you develop bad ideas, you will resent other people and you will want this stuff.
And the thing is that human progress depends on the winwin relationship. It depends on civilization, depends on peace. It depends on allowing people going back to what we talked about earlier, allowing people the freedom to think for themselves. And any time you try to interrupt that, you're causing damage. So this change in America is not some reversion to a natural state. It's a shift in ideas. We. We still live the better part of American society and the world still lives on the remnants of the Enlightenment, the Enlightenment ideas, the ideas, the brought about the scientific revolution, ideas that brought about the creation of this country.
And it's the same basic ideas that led to both of those and. As those ideas get more distant, as those ideas are not defended, as the ideas ideas disappears, enlightment goes away. We will become more violent, more resentful, more tribal, more obnoxious, more unpleasant, more primitive.
A very specific example of this that bothers me. And be curious to get your comments on. So Elon Musk. As a billionaire and. One of the things that really maybe is almost a pet peeve, it really bothers me when the press and the general public will say, well, all those rockets they're sending up there, those are just like the toys, the games the billionaires play.
That, to me, billionaire has become a dirty word to use, like as if money can buy or has anything to do with genius, like I am trying to articulate a specific line of questioning here, because it's just it just bothers me.
I guess the question is like, why? How do we get here and how do we get out of that? Because Elon Musk is doing some of the most incredible things that a human being has ever participated in most. If not, he doesn't build the rockets himself. He's getting a bunch of other geniuses together. That takes genius. That takes genius. But why? Why where do we go and how do we get back to where Elon Musk is an inspiring figure as opposed to a billionaire playing with some toys.
So this is the role of philosophy, it goes back to the same place, it goes back to our understanding of the world and our role in it, and if you understand that the only way to become a billionaire, for example, is to create value, value for value for people who are going to consume it. Only way to become a billionaire. The only way Elon Musk became a billionaire through PayPal. Now PayPal is something we all use PayPal as an enormous value to all of us.
It's why it's worth several billions of dollars, which Elon Musk could then, you know, own.
But you cannot become a billionaire in a free society by exploiting people. You cannot because you'll be you'll be laughed. Nobody will deal with you. Nobody will have any interactions with you. The only way to become a billionaire is to do billions of winwin transactions. So the only way to become a billion in a free society is to change the world, to make it a better place.
Billionaires are the great humanitarians of our time, not because they give charity, but because they make them billions. And it's true that money and genius are not necessarily correlated, but you cannot become a billionaire without being super smart, you cannot become a billionaire by figuring something out that nobody else has figured out in whatever realm it happens to be.
And that thing that you figure out has to be something that provides immense value to other people. Where do we go wrong? We go wrong, our culture goes wrong because it views billionaire's self-interest as selfish and there's a sense in which and not a sense, it's absolutely true. The billionaire doesn't ask for my opinion on what product to launch.
Elon Musk doesn't ask others what they think he should spend his money on, what the greatest social well-being will be. I mean, there's a sense in which the rockets are his toys. There's a sense in which he chose that he would have he would be inspired the most. He would have the most fun by going to Mars and building rockets. And he probably dreamt of rockets from when he was a kid and probably always played with rockets. And now he has the funds, the capital, to be able to deploy it.
So. He's being selfish, obviously, he's being self-interested, this is what Elon Musk is about, I mean, the same with with Jeff Bezos committee to decide whether to invest, to invest in cloud computing or not. Bezos decided that.
And at the end of the day, they are the bosses. They pursue the values they believe are good. They pursue they create the wealth. It's their decisions. It's their mind.
And the fact is, we live in a world where for two thousand plus years self-interest, even though we all do it to some extent, of the less we deem it as morally abhorrent, it's bad. It's wrong. I mean, your mother probably taught you the same thing. My mother taught me to think of others first. Think of yourself last. The good stuff is kept for the guests. You never get to use the good stuff. You know, it's others.
That's what the focus of morality is now. No mother, even no Jewish mother actually believes that.
Right. Because they don't really want you to believe they want you to be first and they push you to be first.
But morally, they taught their entire lives and they believe that the right thing to say and to some extent do.
Is to argue for sacrifice for other people. So most people, 99 percent of people are torn. Yeah, they they know they should be selfless, sacrifice live for the people they don't really want to. So they act selfishly in their day to day life and they feel guilty and they can be happy. They can't be happy.
And Jewish mothers and Catholic mothers are excellent at using that guilt to manipulate you. But the guilt is inevitable because you've got these two conflicting things the way you want to live in the way you've been taught to live. And what Objectivism does is that at the end of the day, provides you with a way to unite morality, a proper morality with what you want, and to think about what you really want to to conceptualize what you really want properly. So what you want is really good for you and what you want will really lead to your happiness.
So, you know, we reject the idea of sacrifice.
We reject the idea of living for other people. But that's what you see if you believe. If you believe that the purpose of morality is to sacrifice for other people. And you look at Jeff Bezos. When was the last time you sacrificed anything? He's living pretty well, he's got billions that he could give it all away and yet he doesn't how they you know, in my in my talks, I often position. And I'm going to use Vulgate sorry, guys, for the conspiracy theory that B.S. complete and utter nonsense.
There's not a shred of truth. You know, I disagree with Bill Gates on everything political. I think he politically is a complete ignoramus. But the guy's a genius when it comes to technology and when he's just thoughtful, even in this philanthropy, he just uses his mind. And I respect that. Even though politically.
Anyway, think about this pooch who had a bigger impact on the lives of poor people in the world, Bill Gates or Mother Teresa. Bill Gates, it's not even close. And Mother Teresa lived this altruistic life to the cause. She lived it consistently, and yet she was miserable, pathetic, horrible. She hated her life. She she she she was miserable. And most of people, she didn't do very well because she just helped them not die.
But, yeah. And then Bill Gates changed the world and he helped a lot by providing technology. Even philanthropy gets to them. The food gets the much faster, more efficient.
Yet who is the moral saint? Sainthood is not determined based on what you do for other people. Sainthood is based on how much how much pain you suffer.
I'd like to ask people to go to a museum and look at all the paintings of saints, how many of them are smiling and are happy that they've usually got through them and holes in their body and they just suffering a horrible death?
The whole point of the morality we are taught. Is that happiness is immorality. That hap happy people cannot be good people and the good people suffer and the suffering is necessary for morality, morality is about sacrifice, self-sacrifice and suffering.
And at the end of the day, almost all the problems in the world boil down to that false view.
So can we try to talk about part of is the problem of the word selfishness. But let's talk about the virtue of selfishness. So let's start with the fact that for me, I really enjoy doing stuff for other people. I enjoy being cheering on the success of others.
Why? I don't know as deeply about it why. Because I think you do know, if I were to really think. I don't I don't want to resort to, like, evolutionary arguments like this somehow. So I think I can tell you why I enjoy helping others.
Where? Maybe you can go there like one thing because. Well, she talk about love a little bit. I'll tell you, there is a part of me that's a little bit not rational, like there's a gut they follow that not everything I do is perfectly rational. For example, my dad criticizes me. He says, like, you should always have a plan. I get it makes sense. You have a strategy. And and I say that, you know, I left I step down from my facilely position and I might say there's so many things I did without like a plan.
It's a gut is like, I want to start a company. Well, you know, many companies fail. I don't know. I it it's the gut. And the same thing with being kind to others is is a gut. I watched the way that karma works in this world, that the people like us, one guy, look up to his job, that he does stuff for others, and that the joy he experiences, the way he sees the world, like just the the the glimmer in his eyes because he does stuff for others that creates a joyful experience.
And that somehow seems to be an instructive way to that, to me is inspiring of a life well lived.
But you probably know a lot of people who have done stuff. Others were not happy. True, so I don't think it's the doing stuff for others that is brings to happiness. It's why you do stuff others and what else you're doing in your life and what what is the what is the proportion. But it's why at the end of the day, which is, which is and it's the same look, you can you can maybe through a gut feeling say I want to start a company, but you better start doing thinking about how and what and all of that.
And to some extent, the way, because if you really want to be happy doing this, you better make sure you're doing it for the right reason. So I'm not you know, there's something called fast thinking.
The Common the and Daniel Kahneman, Daniel Kahneman talks about. And there is it's it's it's you know, all the integration's you've made so far in your life caused you to have specialized knowledge and certain things. And you can think very fast and and your gut tells you what that what the right answer is. It's but it's not. It's your mind is constantly evaluating and constantly working. You want to make it as rational as you can, not in the sense that I have to think through every time I make a decision, but that they've so programmed my mind in a sense that the answers are the right answers, you know, in in in when I get them.
You know, I like I view other people as a value. Other people contribute enormously to my life, whether it's a romantic love relationship or whether it's a friendship relationship or whether it's just, you know, Jeff Bezos creating Amazon and and delivering goodies to my home when I get them and and people do all that. Right. Not just Jeff Bezos. He gets the most credit, but everybody in that chain of command.
Everybody at Amazon is working for me.
I love that. I love the idea of a human being. I love the idea that there are people capable of of being an Einstein, of being, you know, and creating and building and making stuff that makes my life so good. You know, most of us like this is not a good room.
For an example, most of us like plants, right? We like pets. I don't particularly. But people like pets. Why? We like to see life. Yeah. Human beings are life on steroids, right to life with a brain. It's amazing what they can do. I love people. Now, that doesn't mean I love everybody because there's some really bad people up who I hate and I do hate. And there are people out there that are just I have no opinion about.
But generally, the idea of a human being to me is a phenomenal idea. When I see a baby, I light up because to me there's a potential, you know, there's a there's this magnificent potential that is embodied in that. And when I see people struggling and need help, I think the human beings that they embody that potential, they embody that goodness, they might turn out to be bad. But why would I ever give the presumption of that I give them the presumption, the positive, and I cheer them on and and I and I and I enjoy watching people succeed.
I'm Joy watching people get to the top of the mountain and produce something, even if I don't get anything directly from I enjoy that because it's part of my enjoyment of life.
So the word to you, the morality of selfishness, this kind of love of other human beings, the love of life fits into a morality of selfishness.
Can't not. Because it it's it's there's no context in which you can truly love yourself without loving life and loving what it means to be human. So, you know, the love of yourself is going to manifest itself differently in different people, but it's core.
What do you love about yourself?
You first of all, I love I love that I'm alive.
I love that I love this world and the opportunities it provides me and the fun and the excitement of discovering something new and meaning a new person and having a conversation.
You know, all of this is is is is immensely enjoyable. But behind all of that is is a particular human capability that not only I have, other people have. And the fact that they have it makes my life so much more fun because.
So it's it's. You cannot view, you know, it's all integrated and you cannot view yourself in isolation. Now, that doesn't that doesn't place a moral commandment on me. Help everybody who's poor that you happen to meet in the street.
It doesn't place a burden on me in a sense that now I have this moral duty to help everybody. It leaves me free to make decisions about who I help and who I don't. There's some people who I will not help this. Some people who I do not wish positive things upon. Bad people should have bad outcomes. Bad people should suffer.
So and you have the freedom to choose who's good, who's bad within your decision based on your values. Now, I think there's an objectivity to it. There's a there's a standard by which you should evaluate good versus bad. And that standard should be to what extent do they contribute or hurt human life, the standard of human life. And so when I say look at it, Jeff Bezos, I say he's contributed to keep a life. Good guy.
I might disagree with him on stuff. We might disagree about politics. We might disagree about women. We were I don't know what we agree. But overall, big picture, he is pro-life, right?
I look at somebody like to take like ninety nine point nine percent of our politicians. And they are pro death. Are destruction, they are pro cutting corners in ways that destroy human life and human potential and human ability. So I literally hate almost every politician out there and I wish ill on them.
I don't want them to be successful or happy.
I want them all to go away, leave me alone. So I believe in justice.
I believe good things should happen to good people and bad things should happen to bad people. So I, I make those generalizations based on this one, you know, on the other hand, if I shouldn't say all politicians. Right. So I you know, I love Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. I love Abraham Lincoln. I love people who fought for freedom and who believed in freedom, who had these ideas and lived up to at least a part of their lives to those principles.
Now, do I think Thomas Jefferson was flawed because he held slaves? Absolutely.
But the virtues way outweigh that, in my view. And I understand people who don't accept that.
You don't have to also love and hate the entirety of the person. There's parts of that personality that transcend the major parties, pro-life.
And therefore I'm pro that person. And I think and I said earlier the objectives of philosophy of love.
And I believe that because Objectivism is about. Your life, about loving your life, about embracing your life, about engaging with the world, about loving the world in which you live, about winwin relationships with other people, which means to a large extent, loving the good in other people and the best in other people and encouraging that and supporting and promoting it. So I know selfishness is a harsh word because the culture's given away that harshness, selfishness is a harsh word because the people who don't like selfishness want you to believe it's a harsh word, but it's not.
What does it mean? It means focus on self. It means take care of self. It means make yourself your highest priority, not your only priority. Because in taking care of yourself, what would what what would I be without my wife?
What would I be without the people who who who support me, who help me, who, who who I have these love relationships with is so other people are crucial.
What would my life be without Steve Jobs? Steve Jobs? A lot of things you mentioned here are just beautiful. So one is one when one key thing about this selfishness and the idea of objectivism is the philosophy of love is that you don't want parasitism. So that goes that is unethical. So you actually is first of all, you say when we win a lot and I just like that terminology because it's a good way to see life is try to maximize the number of win win interactions.
That's a good way to see business, actually.
Well, life generally, I think every aspect of life. You want to have a Win-Win relationship with your wife. Imagine if it was win lose. Either way, if you win or she loses, how long is that going to stay? So win lose relationships are not in equilibrium. What they turn into is lose, lose, like win, lose, turns into lose, lose. And the so the alternative, the only alternative to lose lose is win, win and you win and the person you love wins.
What's better than that? That's the way to maximize. So it's like the selfishness is you're trying to maximize the win. But the way to maximize the win is to maximize the win win. Yes.
And it turns out and Adam Smith understood this a long time ago, that if you focus on your own winning while respecting other people as human beings, then everybody wins. And the beauty of capitalism, if we go back to capitalism for a second, the beauty of capitalism is you cannot be successful in capitalism without producing values that other people appreciate and therefore willing to buy from you and they buy them. And this goes back to that question about the engineer and Steve Jobs.
Why is the engineer working in. Because he's getting paid more than his time is worth to him. I know people don't like to think in those terms, but that's the reality, if his time is worth more to him than what he's getting paid. He would leave. So he's winning. And is Apple winning? Yes, because they're getting more productivity from him, they're getting more from him than what he's actually. Producing it's tough, it's tough because there's the human psychology and imperfect information, it just makes it a little messier than the clarity of thinking you have about it just because for sure, but not everything in life is an economic transaction.
It ultimately is close.
But even if it's not an economic transaction, even if it's if it's a if the relationship transaction, when you get to a point with a friend where you're not gaining from the relationship. Friendships are going to be over not immediately, because it takes time for these things to manifest itself and to really absorb into it. But we change friendships, we change our lives. We fall in and out of love. We fall out of love because when not love.
So let's let's go back to love it. Love is the most selfish of all emotions. Love is about what you do to me. Right. So I love my wife because she makes me feel better about myself. So, you know, the idea of selfless love is bizarre.
And so I used to say before you say I love you, you have to say that I. And you have to know who you are and you have to appreciate yourself if you hate yourself. What does it mean to love somebody else? So my I love my wife because she makes me feel great about the world. Yeah. And she loves me for the same reason. And so I made you to use this example. Imagine you go up to your to be spouse the night before the wedding and you say, you know, I get nothing out of this relationship.
I'm doing this purely as an act of noble self-sacrifice.
She would slap you as she should. Right.
So now we know this intuitively, that love is selfish, but we are afraid to admit it to ourselves. And why? Because the other side is convinced that selfishness is associated with exploiting other people. Selfishness means lying, cheating, stealing, walking and corpses, back stabbing people. But is that ever in your self-interest, truly right off of the front of an audience to say, OK, how many people here have lied?
I'm kidding, right? How many of you think that that if you did that consistently, that would make your life better? Nobody thinks that because everybody's experienced how shitty lying, not because of how it makes you feel out of a sense of guilt, existentially, just a bad strategy.
Yeah, you get caught, you have to create other lies to cover up the previous lie. It screws up with your own psychology and your own cognition.
You know the mind to some extent, like a computer. Right. Isn't integrating machine and computer science. I understand there's a term called garbage in. Garbage out. Lying is garbage it.
Yeah. So it's not good strategy. Cheating, screwing your customers in a business, not paying your suppliers as a businessman. Not good business practices, not good practices for being alive. So Win Win is both moral and practical.
And the beauty of Ayn Rand's philosophy, and I think this is really important, is that the moral is the practical and the practical is the moral. And therefore, if you are moral, you will be happy.
Yeah, that's the that's why the application of the philosophy of objectivism is so easy to practice, so like they ought to discuss or possible to discuss. That's why you talk so clear-cut.
Yeah, I'm not ambiguous about my view and this fundamentally practical. I mean, that's the best. The philosophy is practical.
It's in a sense teaching you how to live a good life. And it's teaching you how to live a good life, not just as you, but as a human being. And therefore, the principles that apply to you probably apply to me as well. And if we both share the same principles of how to live a good life, we're not going to be enemies. You brought up anarchy earlier. It's an interesting question because you've kind of said politicians, I mean, part of it is a little bit joking, but politicians are, you know, not good people.
Yeah, so but we should have some. So you have an opposition to anarchism.
So they first of all, they would always not bad people. That is, I gave examples of people who engage in political life, I think were good people basically. And and but they think they get worse over time if the system is corrupt. And I think the system unfortunately, even the American system, as good as it was, was founded on quicksand and have corruption built in. They didn't quite get it. And they needed Ayn Rand to get it.
I'm not blaming them. I don't think they hope they show any blame. You needed a philosophy in order to completely fulfill the promise that is America.
There's a promise that is the founding of the the place where corruption and sneaked in is the lack in some way of the philosophy underlying the nation. Absolutely.
So so it's Christianity. It's it's it's a you know, not to hit on another controversial topic. It's religion which on which undercut their morality. So the founders were explicitly Christian and altruistic in their morality. Implicitly, in terms of their actions, they were completely secular and they were they were very secular anyway, but in their morality even they were secular. So there's nothing in Christianity that says that the that the you have an inalienable right to pursue happiness.
That's unbelievably self-interested and based on kind of a moral philosophy of ego, of a egoistic morphologic. But they didn't know that and they didn't know how to go about it. They implicitly they had that fast thinking, that gut that told them that this was right.
And the whole enlightenment, that period from John Locke on to really to to to whom that period is about pursuit of happiness, using reason in pursuit of the good life.
Right. But they can't ground it. They don't really understand what reason is and they don't really understand what happiness requires. And they can't detach and fell through Christianity then allowed to politically.
And I think conceptually, you just can't make that big break. Rand is an enlightenment think in that sense. She is what should have followed right after.
Right. She should have come there and grounded them in the secular and in the egoistic and Aristotelian view of morality as a as a as a as a code of values, to basically to guide your life, to guide your life towards happiness. That's Aristotle's view. So they didn't have that, so, you know, so I think that government is necessary, it's not a necessary evil, it's a necessary good because it does something good. And the good that it does is it eliminates coercion from society, it eliminates violence from society, it eliminates the use of force between individuals from society.
And that was the argument that I would make chance here is why can't you apply the same kind of reasoning that you've effectively used for the rest of mutually agreed upon institutions that are driven by capitalism, that we can't also hire forces to protect us from the violence, to ensure the stability of society that protects us from the violence. Why, why, why draw the line at this particular place? Well, because there is no other place to draw a line in and there is a line.
And by the way, we draw lines other places. Right? We we don't vote. We don't we don't have. We don't determine truth in science based on competition. All right, so that's that's a line, but some people might say, I mean, this competition in a sense that you have alternate theories, but at the end of the day, whether you decide that he's right or he's right, it's not based on the market. It's based on facts and reality, on objective reality.
You have to you and some people will never accept that this person is right because they don't see the street. So first of all, what they reject, what most anarchists reject, even if they don't admit it or recognize it, is they object. They reject objective reality. And in what sense, so like, all right, so there's a whole so the the whole realm of law. Is a scientific, real. To define, for example, the boundaries of private property.
It's not an issue of competition, it's not an issue of of of of I have one system and you have another system. It's an issue of objective reality. And now it's more difficult in science, in a sense, because it's more difficult to prove that my conception of property is correct and you're correct.
But this is a correct one in reality, the correct vision.
It's more abstract. But look. Somebody has to decide. What property is so I have I have to my property is defined by certain boundaries and I have a police force and I have a judiciary system that backs my vision. And you have a claim against my property. If a claim against my property and you have a police force and judicial system that backs your claim. Who's right? So the our definitions of property are different, yes, definitions of property or a claim on the property is different.
So why so? So so we just agree on the definition of property and.
But why should we agree? Why your judicial system is one definition of property. My judicial system is not you.
You think that there's no such thing as intellectual property rights and your whole system believes that? Yeah, and my whole system believes there is such thing. So you are duplicating my books and handing them out to all your friends and not paying me a royalty. Yeah, and I. I think that's wrong in my judicial system and my police force. I think that's wrong and we're both living in the same geographic area, right? So we have overlapping jurisdictions.
Yeah. Now the anarchist would say, well, we'll negotiate. Why should we negotiate? My system is actually right. There is such a thing as intellectual property rights. There's no negotiation here. You're wrong. And you should either pay a fine or go to jail. Yeah, but why can't?
Because it's a community is multiple. There's multiple parties and it's like a majority vote. They'll they'll hire different forces. That, says Jones, is onto something here with the definition of property. And we'll go with that.
So anarchists, pro democracy in the majority rule says, well, think so.
I think anarchy. So it promotes like emergent democracy. Right? Like it, doesn't it? I'll tell you what it promotes.
It promotes emergent strife and civil war and violence, constant uninterrupted violence. Because the only way to settle the dispute between us, since we both think that we are right and we have guns behind us to protect that and we have a legal system, we have a whole theory of ideas is is you're stealing my stuff. How do I get it back? I invade you, right. I take over, you know, and who's going to who's going to win that battle?
The smartest guy. Oh, the guy with the biggest guns.
But the anarchists say that they're using implied like the state uses implied force. They're already doing violence because they they they take the state as it is today. And they refuse to engage in the conversation about what a state should and could look like and how we can create mechanisms to protect us from the state using those those do. But look, this is my view of anarchy is very simple. It's a ridiculous position. It's infantile. I mean I really mean this.
Right. And sorry to my Cobbett and all the other very smart, very, very smart anarchists because anarchist is never you won't find a dumb anarchist.
Right. Because dumb people know it wouldn't work.
You have to have. It's absolutely true. You have to have an IQ to be an anarchist. That's true. They're all really intelligent, all intelligence.
And the reason is that you have to create such a mythology in your head. You have to create so many rationalizations. Any Joe in the street knows it doesn't work because they can understand what happens with two people who are armed in the street and have a dispute. And there's no mechanism to resolve that dispute. Yeah, that's objective. That and this is what gets the objective. That's objective. The whole point of government is. That is the objective authority for determining the truth in one regard, in regard to force.
Because the only alternative to determining it when it comes to force is through force.
The only way to resolve disputes is through force or through this negotiation, which is unjust, because if one party's right wing parties want to negotiate and and this is the point, I'm not against competition of governance.
I'm all for competition of governance. We do that all the time. It's called countries. The United States has a certain governance structure. The Soviet Union had a governance structure. Mexico has a governance structure and they're competing.
And we can observe the competition. We in my world, you could move freely from one governance to another. If you didn't like your governance, you would move to a better governance system. But they have to have autonomy within a geographic area. Otherwise, what you get is complete and utter civil war. The law needs to be objective and it needs to be one law over piece of ground. And if you disagree with that law, you can move somewhere else with May.
This is why federalism is such a beautiful system. Even within the United States, we have states and on certain issues we're allowed to disagree between states like the death penalty. Some states do. Some states are fine. And now I can move from one state if I don't like it. But there are certain issues you cannot have disagreement, slavery, for example.
This is why we had a civil war. But let me one other argument against anarchy. Markets exist. With force has been eliminated. As I said, again, markets exist where the rule of force has been eliminated. The rule of force. Yes. So a market will exist if we know that you can't pull a gun on me and take my stuff. I am willing to engage in a transaction with you if we have an implicit understanding that we're not going to use force against each other.
So the force has something special to it. Yes, it's a special. It overrides because we are still agreeing we can manipulate each other.
Yes, but we force kind of. So what is it? Something fundamental about violence forces is a fundamental force. It's the anti reason. It's the anti life. It's the anti force against another person. And it's what it does. It shuts down the mind. Right.
So in order to have a market, you have to extract force.
How can you have a market enforce? When I there's an Instagram channel called Nature's Metal, where it has all these videos of animals basically having a market of force. Yes, but that shuts down the ability to reason. And animals don't need to because they can't. Exactly. So the innovation that is human beings is a capacity to reason and therefore the relegation of force to the animals. We don't do force civilizations where we don't have force. And so what you have is you cannot have a market in that which a market requires the elimination of it.
And I you know, I, I don't debate formally these guys, but I interact with them all the time. Right. And you get these absurd arguments where David Friedman will say, that's Milton Friedman. He will say something like, well, in Somalia, in the northern part of Somalia where they have no government, you have all these wonderful you have these tribal tribunals of these tribes and they resolve disputes. Yeah.
But basically they you Sharia law, they have no respect for individual rights, no respect for property. And the only reason they have any authority is because they have guns and they have power and they have force.
And they do it barbarically, there's nothing civilizing about the courts of Somalian and they write about pirates and because they view force, they don't view force as something unique that must be extracted from human life. And that's why anarchy has to devolve into violence, because it treats forces just.
What's the big deal with negotiating, you know, over guns, so we recorded a lot of high level philosophy, but I'd like to touch on the troubles, the chaos of the day.
Yeah, a couple of things and I really would, trying to find a hopeful path way out. So one is the current coronavirus pandemic in particular, not the virus, but our handling of it. Is there something philosophically, politically that you would like to see, that you would like to recommend that you would like to maybe give a hopeful message? If we take that kind of trajectory, we might be able to get out because I'm kind of worried about the economic pain that people are feeling that there's this quiet suffering.
I mean, I agree with you completely. There is a suffering. It's horrible. I mean, I know people you know, I go to a lot of restaurants. Would one of the things we love to do is, is eat out. My wife doesn't like cooking anymore. We don't have we don't have kids in the house anymore. So she doesn't have to to go out a lot. We go to restaurants and because we have a fever, so we go to them a lot.
We get to know the owners of the restaurant, the chef, the and it's just heartbreaking. You know, these people put their life. You know, blood, sweat and tears, I mean, real blood, sweat and tears into these projects, restaurants are super difficult to to manage. Most of them go bankrupt anyway. And in the restaurants, we go to a good restaurants. They've done a good job and they've got a unique value.
And they shut them down. And, you know, many of them will never open, you know, something like they estimate 50 or 60 percent of restaurants in some places won't open. These are people's lives. These are people's capital. These are people effort. These are people's love. Talk about love. They love what they do, particularly if they're the chef as well. And it's gone and it's disappearing. What are they going to do with their lives now?
They're going to live off the government the way our politicians would like them, bigger and bigger stimulus plan so we can hand checks to people to get them used to living off of us rather than it's disgusting and it's offensive and it's unbelievably sad.
And this is where it comes to this. I care about other people. I mean, this idea that is don't care. I mean, I love these people who provide me with pleasure of eating wonderful food and in a great environment.
This is something inspiring about them, too. Like when I say little restaurant, I want to do better with my own stuff.
Yeah, exactly. It's inspiring there. Anybody who does it is that I love sports because it's the one realm in which you still value and celebrate excellence. I but I try to celebrate excellence, everything in my life. So I you know, I try to be nice to these people. And, you know, with covid, which we went more to restaurants with, believe it, we did more takeout stuff. We made an effort, particularly the restaurants.
We really loved it to keep them going, to encourage them to support them. The problem is the problem is philosophy drives the world. The response, the covid, has been worse than pathetic. And it's driven by philosophy. It's driven by disrespect to science, ignorance and disrespect of statistics, a disrespect of individual human decision making, government has to decide everything for us and and just throughout the process and a disrespect of markets because we didn't let markets work to to to facilitate what we needed in order to deal with this virus.
If you look at it, it's interesting that the only place on the planet that's done well with this are parts of Asia.
But Taiwan did phenomenally with this. And the vice president of Taiwan is an epidemiologist. So he knew what he was doing and they got it right from the beginning. South Korea did did amazing. Even Hong Kong and Singapore in Hong Kong is just very few deaths. And the economy wasn't shut down in any of those places. There were no lockdowns in any of those places. The CDC had plans before this happened and how to do good plans, indeed, if you ask people around the world before the pandemic, which country is best prepared for pandemic, they would have said the United States, because of the CDC's plans and how all of our emergency reserves and all that and the wealth.
And yet all of that went out the window because people panicked, people didn't think go back to reason, people were arrogant, refused to use the tools that they had at their disposal to deal with this. So you deal with pandemics. It's very simple how you deal with pandemics. And this is how South Korea and Taiwan and you deal with them by not by testing. Tracing and isolating itself. And you do it well and you do it vigorously and you do it and scale if you have to.
And you scale up to do it. We have the wealth to do that.
So one question I have, it's a difficult one. So they talk about love a lot. And you've just talked about Donald Trump. I guarantee you, though, this particular segment will be full of derision from the Internet. Yes, but I believe that. Should be and can be fixed, what I'm referring to in particular is the division, because we've talked about the value of reason. And what I've noticed on the Internet is the division shuts down reason, so when people hear you say Trump, actually the first things you said about Trump, they'll hear Trump in their ears will perk up and they'll immediately start in that first sentence.
They'll say, is he a Trump supporter or are they not interested in anything else after that? And after that, that's it. And what. So my question is. You, as one of the beacons of intellectual, isn't quite honest, I mean, it sounds silly to say, but you are a beacon of reason. How do we bring people together long enough to where we can reason? I mean, there's no easy way out of this because.
The fact that people have become tribal and they have very tribal. And the tribe. In the tribe, reason doesn't matter. It's all about emotion, it's all about belonging and belonging. And you don't want to stand out, you don't want to have a different opinion. You want to belong. And it's all about belonging. It took us decades to get back to tribalism where we were hundreds of years ago. It took a millennium to get out of tribalism.
It took the Enlightenment to get us to the point of individualism where we think for reason, respectfully. Before that, we were all tribal. So it took the Enlightenment to get us out of it. We've been in the Enlightenment for about 250 years, influenced by the Enlightenment. And and it's fading. The impact is fading. So why would we need to get out of it? We need self-esteem. People join a tribe because they don't trust their own mind.
People join a tribe because they're afraid to stand on their own two feet. They're afraid to think for themselves. They're afraid to be different. They're afraid to be unique. They're afraid to be an individual. People need self-esteem to gain self-esteem. They have to they have to have respect for rationality, they have to think and they have to achieve and they have to recognize that achievement.
To do that, they have to be they have to have respect for thinking. They have to have respect for reason. And we have to and think about the schools. We have to have schools that teach people to think, teach people to to value their mind.
We have schools that teach people to feel and value the feelings. We have groups of six year olds sitting around a circle discussing politics.
What they don't know anything. They're ignorant. So you don't know anything when you ignore it. Yes, you can feel, but your feelings are useless as as decision making tools. But but we emphasize emotion. It's all about socialization and emotion. This is why they talk about this generation of snowflakes. They can't hear anything that they're too opposed to because they've not learned how to use their mind, how to think.
So it boils down to teaching people that think to think, how to think and how to care about themselves. So it's it's thinking of self esteem and the connected, because when you think you achieve which gains gains you self-esteem, when you have self-esteem, it's easier to think for yourself.
And I don't know how you do that quickly. I mean, I think leadership matters. So, you know, part of what I try to do is try to encourage people to do those things. But I am a small voice. You you ask me, when will you and you said we should talk about why I'm not more famous. I'm not famous. You know, my following is not big. It's very small in a in the in the scope of things.
But yours and objectivism. And that question is, could you linger on it for a moment. Why isn't objectivism. More famous, I think, because it's so challenging, it's it's not challenging to me, right when I first encountered Objectivism. It's like after the first shock and after the first kind of none of this can be true, this is all B.S. in fighting it. Once I got it, it was it was it require years of study, but it was easy in the sense of, yes, this makes sense, but it's challenging because it upends everything.
It really says what my mother taught me is wrong and what my politicians say left and right is wrong, all of them.
There's not a single politician on which I agree with on almost anything. Right. Because on the fundamentals, we disagree.
And what my teachers are telling me is wrong and what Jesus said is wrong.
And it's hard. But the thing is, so you talk about politics and all that kind of stuff, but most people don't care. The more powerful thing about Objectivism is the practical of my life, of how I revolutionized my life.
And if that feels to me like a very important and appealing, you know, get your shit together. Yeah, but this is why Israel, Jordan Peterson is so much more successful than we are.
They always make your bed or make your bed. Yeah. Because his personal responsibility is shallow. It's make your bed stand up straight. What my mother told me when I was growing up, there's nothing new about John Peterson. He says, embrace your question is fine by religion is OK. Just do these few things and you'll be fine. And by the way, he says. Happiness, you know, you either have it or you don't, you know, it's random, you don't actually you can't bring about your own happiness.
She's given people an easy out.
People want easy out. People buy self-help books that give them five principles for living a shallow. I'm telling them think. Stand on your own two feet, be independent. Don't listen to your mother, do your own thing, but thoughtfully, not based on emotions.
So you're responsible not just for a set of particular habits and so on. You're responsible for everything. Yes. And your respond. Here's the here's the big one.
Right. You responsible for shaping you own soul? Your consciousness, you get to decide what it's going to be like and that the only tool you have is your mind, your only reason is, is your mind, while your emotions play at all, when they're properly cultivated, they play a role in that.
And the tools you have is thinking, experiencing, living, coming to the right conclusions. You know, listening to great music and watching good movies and and art is very important in shaping your own soul and helping you do this. It's got to it's got a crucial role in that. But it's work and it's lonely work because it's what you do with yourself.
Now, if you find somebody who you love, who shares these values and you could do with them, that's great. But it's mindlessly lonely work. It's hard, it's challenging. It ends your world. The reward is unbelievable.
But but even think about think about the Enlightenment. Right. So up until the Enlightenment, which was truth truth came out book. And a few people who understood the book, most of us couldn't read, and they conveyed it to us and they just told us what to do. And in that sense, life's easy, it sucks. And we die young and we have nothing and we don't enjoy it. But it's easy. And then Laitman comes around and says.
We've got this tool. It's called reason, and it allows us to discover truth about the world, the sun in a book. It's actually your reason allows you to discover stuff about the world. And I consider the first really the first figure of the Enlightenment is Newton, not Locke. It's a scientist because he teaches us the laws of mechanics, like how does stuff work?
And people go, oh, wow, this is cool. I can use my mind, I can discover truth. Isn't that amazing? And everything opens up once you do that. Hey, if I can discover if I understand the laws of motion, if I can understand truth in the work, how can I can decide who I marry?
I mean, everything was fixed in those days. How come I can't decide what profession I should be in? Everybody belong to a guild. How come I can't decide who my political leader should be? That's so. It's all reason. It's all once you understand the efficacy of your mind, understand truth, to understand reality, discover to discover everything opposite.
Now you can take responsibility for your life because now you have the tool to do it. But we are living in an era where postmodernism tells us there is no truth, there is no reality, and our mind is useless anyway, critical race theory tells us that you are determined by your race and your race shapes everything in your free will is meaningless and your reason doesn't matter because reason is just shaped by your genes and shaped by your color of your skin, that it's the most racist theory of all.
And you've got you've got a friend at UC Irvine telling them all your senses don't tell you anything about reality anyway. Reality is what it is.
So, you know, what's the purpose of reason? It's to invent stuff. It's to make stuff up. And what uses that? It's complete fantasy.
You've basically got every philosophical, intellectual voice in the culture. Telling them the reason is important. There's like a Steven Pinker who tries and I love Pinker and he is really good and I love his books.
But, you know, he needs to be stronger about this and there's a few people on kind of there's a few people possibly in the intellectual dark web and otherwise who are big on reason, but not consistent enough and not full understanding of what it means or what it implies. And then there's little old me.
And then it's me against the world in a sense, because I'm not only willing to accept to articulate the case for reason, but then what that implies, it implies freedom and implies capitalism and implies taking personal responsibility over your own life and no other intellectual where people get to reason and say, oh, politics, you can be whatever. No, you can't. You can't be a socialist. And for a reason it doesn't actually that those are incompatible. And you can't be a determinist and for reason, reason of determinism don't go together.
The whole point of reason is that it's an achievement and it requires effort and requires engagement. It requires choice.
So it is it does feel like a little bit because that's that's it. The allies I have allies. I have allies among some libertarians over economics. I have some allies in the intellectual web, maybe over reason, but none of them are allies in the full sense of my allies, the other Objectivist. But we just do not a lot of us, for people listening to this, for the few folks kind of listening to this and thinking about the trajectory of their own life, I guess the take away is reason is a difficult project, but a project that's worthy of taking on.
I don't know if difficult is doing way because difficult sounds like it's you know, I have to push this boulder up a hill.
It's not difficult in that sense. It's difficult in the sense that it requires energy and focus. It requires effort, but it's immediately rewarding. It's fun to do and its rewards are immediate pretty quick. It takes a while to undo all the garbage that you have, but we all have that I had it took me years and years and years to get rid of certain concepts and certain emotions that I had that didn't make any sense. But it takes a long time to fully integrate.
So I don't want it to sound like it's a burden, like it's hard in that sense. It does require focus and energy. And I don't want to sound like a Dr. Spock. I don't want to and I don't think I do because I'm a pretty passionate guy. But I don't want it to feel like, oh, just forget about emotions, the emotions of how you experience the world. You want to have strong emotions. You want to live.
You want to experience life strongly and passionately. You just need to know that emotions and not cognition, it's another. Well, it's I don't mix around, think about outcomes and then experience them. And sometimes your emotions won't coincide with what you think should be. And that means there's still more integration to be done. Iran, as I told you offline, I've been a fan of yours for a long time, has been I was a little star struck early on, you know, more comfortably back on the air.
I highly recommend that people that haven't heard your work listen to it to the book show. You know, the times I've disagreed with something I've hear you say is usually a first step on a journey of learning a lot more about that thing, about that viewpoint. And that's been so fulfilling. It's been a gift, the passion. You know, you talk about the reason a lot, but the passion radiates in a way that's just contagious and inspiring. So thank you for everything you've done for this world.
It's truly an honor and a pleasure to talk to you. Well, thank you. And it's it's my. What is that if I've had an impact on you and people like you. Wow. I mean, that's that's amazing to you. And you wrote to me an email saying you've been a fan. I was blown away because I had no idea and completely unexpected. And and I you know, every every few months I discover he had an impact on this boat and people that I would have never thought.
And they so, you know, the only way to change the world. Is the change of one mind at the time? Yeah, and and when you when you have an impact on a good mind and a mind that cares about the world and a mind that goes out and does something about it, then you get exponential growth. So through you have impacted other people and that's how you get that's how you ultimately change everything. And so I'm in spite of everything, I'm optimistic in a sense that I think that the progress we've made today is so universally accepted that scientific progress that technology is it can't just vanish like it did under when Rome collapsed.
And whether it's in the United States or some way, progress will continue with the human project for Human Progress will continue. And I think these ideas, ideas of reason and individualism will always be at the heart of it. And, you know, what we are doing is continuing the project of the Enlightenment, and it's the project that will will save this the save the human race and and allow it to to follow Elon Musk and for Jeff Bezos to reach the stars.
Thank you for masterfully ending on a hopeful note here. And always a pleasure and an honor. Thanks. Thanks for listening to this conversation with your Aunt Brooke. And thank you to our sponsors, Blankest, an app I use for reading through summaries of books, Express, VPN, the VPN I've used for many years to protect my privacy on the Internet and cash app. The app I used to send money to friends. Please check out these spots in the description to get a discount and to support this podcast.
If interesting subscribe. I need to review as fast as an app, a podcast, follow on Spotify, support on Patrón or connect with me on Twitter, Àlex Friedman. And now let me leave you some words from Ayn Rand. Do not let your fire go out, sparked by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not quite the not yet and the not at all, do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach the world.
You desire can be one. It exists. It is real. It is possible. It is yours. Thank you for listening and hope to see you next time.