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What's best way to introduce young man to Objectivism?

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I need advice on how to introduce my 21 year old son to Objectivism. He is smart and strong but uneducated. He gets his ideas from television shows like "Family Guy." However, when he tries to talk about serious matters he winds up sounding like a budding Objectivist and I think he has a natural affinity for Objectivist principles.

I am not an Objectivist. I am a traditional Roman Catholic. So why would I want to introduce my son to Objectivism? Because, at this point, I am not so much concerned with what he is thinking as I am concerned that he is not thinking at all. I know that my beliefs have no appeal for him but I think he could become very excited about Objectivism and I hope this would lead him to develop a passion for serious thought and discussion. It is my hope that once he learns how to think and discuss his beliefs then I would have some possibility of communicating with him.

My son just got out of the Army. He is not interested in spectator sports but loves to work out and run. He is currently unemployed and lives with me. He likes violent movies and video games. He reads very little. We live in the Green Bay Wisconsin area.

I am looking for recommendations of 1) short, exciting youtube videos; 2) short, easy to read books, pamphlets, comic books or graphic novels; 3) exciting movies; 4) local events for young people; 5) general advice on how to get my son excited about Objectivism.

I appreciate any help and thank you in advance.

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Anthem is brief, interesting and a good introduction to the ideas. If your son likes it he can go on to the other, longer novels. Most people start with Rand's novels and then move on to the essays, and I think this is the right way to go about it.

Let us know how this progresses.

Edited by Reidy
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You could purchase him the Atlas Shrugged movies that have just recently been released, indeed a good place to begin for someone who does not read. I also think that the documentaries *‘Ayn Rand and the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged’* and also ‘Ayn Rand - A Sense of Life’ could also be interesting. Further I could also suggest some non objectivist documentaries ‘Religulous’ and ‘Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life’. Although these films are not Objectivist (e.g. ‘Religulous’ promotes the idea of doubt/agnosticism) I think it is important to get exposed to various ideas like these to learn to think for yourself. Are you sure you want to expose him to these ideas?

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Welcome,

 

Diana Hseih, the lady who runs Philosophy in Action also has a blog called Modern Paleo. This is a health blog that focuses mostly on diet. But she also sometimes posts about exercise. She's interested in slow workouts/weight training that (I think) borrow from the perspective of Body by Science by Mike Mentzer, who I'm told was also an Objectivist. If he's interested in that sort of stuff, you could buy him the book and mention Mentzer's Objectivism, or you could point him to Modern Paleo hand see if he finds his way over by himself.

I also live in the Green Bay area, by the way. I used to be friends with one of the guys who went to the local Bujinkan dojo. I don't know if he still lives in the area or trains, but while he wasn't an Objectivist he certainly was interested in discussing ideas. He let me borrow his copy of The Capitalist Manifesto, for instance. I could try to track him down to see if he's still training; by now I'd expect him to be an instructor if he stuck with it. Your son could join the dojo and maybe they'd hit it off. I'm also friends with an Objectivist veteran who lives in the area, and I think he does a fair amount of online gaming (XBOX360, I think). But whether or not people will like each other is hard for me to judge without knowing your son.

 

Otherwise, dystopian fiction is a great way to get young people interested in ideas. If he were open to reading, I'd suggest the classics like 1984, Brave New World and Animal Farm. There are also examples on film, but the only one that comes to mind is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tvqsv1pPSbg, based on Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron.

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The videos by Galtspeaking. They illustrate the philosophy in creative ways, with suitable background music that sets the mood. I'd start by introducing him to something light like that, rather than to the more dry material presented above. And yes, the computer game Bioshock might be a good choice as well.

 

This video on the

is also good for illustrating the basics to new people. It's very rudimentary, but effective.

 

I'd avoid the Atlas Shrugged movies. At least the first one, as it'd be just as likely to turn him away from the philosophy entirely. I haven't seen the second one yet, but it's created by the same people.

 

If it works, expect him to become rather obsessive about the philosophy for a period of perhaps 2-3 years before he's prepared to explore new ideas and develop further. One of the flaws of Objectivism is that it's such a purely abstract and theoretical kind of philosophy without any connection to nature, so to speak; it doesn't even acknowledge essential things such as family, nationality, race, spirituality, and so forth, something which eventually turns people off once they (hopefully) realize that they aren't completely rootless individuals.

 

Objectivism is great for awakening young men's interest in philosophy, economics, politics, and much more. Most of all, it made me become intellectually curious and a more critical thinker.

Edited by ENM
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I would see if you can find Philosophy: Who Needs It.  The entire purpose of the book is to do exactly what you're talking about; to show the reader who actually does need philosophy, and why. 

(Spoiler alert: the answer is everyone)

 

I know you said he doesn't read much, but the first chapter is the transcript of a speech Ayn Rand wrote specifically for one of the graduating classes of West Point academy.  In that speech she explicitly showed, in detail, why the realm of ideas is THE most vital battleground in the entire world.  And if he'd rather not read it, here's a brief excerpt that explains it brilliantly:

 

"Since I am a fiction writer, let us start with a short story.  Suppose that you are an astronaut whose spaceship gets out of control and crashes on an unknown planet.  When you regain consciousness and find that you are not hurt too badly, the first three questions in your mind would be: Where am I?  How can I discover it?  What should I do?

You see unfamiliar vegetation outside, and there is air to breathe; the sunlight seems paler than you remember it and colder.  You turn to look at the sky, but stop.  You are struck by a sudden feeling: if you don't look, you won't have to know that you are, perhaps, too far from the Earth and no return is possible; so long as you don't know it, you are free to believe what you wish- and you experience a foggy, pleasant, but somehow guilty, kind of hope.

You turn to your instruments: they may be damaged, you don't know how seriously.  But you stop, struck by a sudden fear: how can you trust these instruments?  How can you be sure that they won't mislead you?  How can you know whether they will work on a different world?  You turn away from your instruments.

Now you begin to wonder why you have no desire to do anything.  It seems so much safer just to wait for something to turn up somehow; it is better, you tell yourself, not to rock the spaceship.  Far in the distance, you see some sort of living creatures approaching; you don't know whether they are human, but they walk on two feet.  THEY, you decide, will tell you what to do.

You are never heard from again.

This is fantasy, you say?  You would not act like that and no astronaut ever would?  Perhaps not.  But this is the way most men live their lives, here, on Earth."

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ENM, on 08 Feb 2013 - 13:36, said:

. . .it doesn't even acknowledge essential things such as family, nationality, race. . .

Meaning: the most important things in life are who you're related to (the reasoning behind aristocracy), your address (the mentality of Palestine) and your ancestral heritage (the rationalization for slavery, Obama and Hitler). Meaning: what truly matters isn't what a person thinks, what they choose or what they accomplish, but who they're descended from, where they happen to have been born and whether the stars were in alignment, then.

So I just thought I'd point out that this accusation:

ENM, on 08 Feb 2013 - 13:36, said:

One of the flaws of Objectivism is that it's such a purely abstract and theoretical kind of philosophy without any connection to nature, so to speak; it doesn't even acknowledge essential things such as family, nationality, race, spirituality, and so forth, something which eventually turns people off once they (hopefully) realize that they aren't completely rootless individuals.

. . . is entirely true, except that it would take a certain sort of mind to view that as a flaw. (That of a well-rooted demographic who would rather not be individual)

I could go on but this is totally and completely unrelated to the topic. I just had to get that off my chest; after all, I am a Scotsman/American/Male/Minnesotan/5'11''/Redhead/Blue-eyed/Aquarius/3% Cherokee/Union of houses Jodeit and MacNair.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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