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Advice on preparing a lecture on O'ism?

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I'm a high school senior and I'm preparing for a mandatory 40-minute speech for my AP Language class. I have chosen Objectivism as my topic, as I don't know enough about anything else to talk for 40 minutes. Also, I am looking forward to using it to further clarify my knowlege of the philosophy. The first section of this lecture will be a discussion of the importance of philosophy, then I will go into a brief (20-30 min) explanation of Objectivism itself.

I am somewhat concerned about my ability to effectively convey the whole of the philosophy and why they should care. I understand everything I read, but when it comes to verbally explaining it, I have troubles. Do any of you have any suggestions/comments/warnings that you would like to share? I really want to make this a presentation worthy of the subject, so any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Don't waste time refuting opposing views; your purpose is to present Objectivism.

It'd probably be a good idea to present the ideas in a logical order, in fact, you can present the logical order when you're discussing the importance/need for philosophy in general in the first part of your speech.

The logical order is:

Metaphysics (reality)

Epistemology (knowledge)

Ethics (morality)

Politics (society)

Esthetics (art)

Some other things you may want to make a point of mentioning; that some philosophies think they can dispense with one or more of the logical branches (Logical Positivism, for instance, thinks you can dispense entirely with Metaphysics, the entire basis for philosopy, and still philosophize!) and that Esthetics properly IS a branch of philosophy and subject to rational analysis.

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I'm preparing for a mandatory 40-minute speech for my AP Language class.

Jesus...40mintues!? That's insane--I'm rarely able to hold a dialogue for that amount a time, let alone a monologue =P

Nevertheless, for your introduction, I'd suggest explaining to them why they should listen to your speech about philosophy--i.e. why do people need philosophy? (Humans are volitional and have the capability of making incorrect choices--so humans need a set of principles, guidelines if you will, to guide their choices, if they want to live...etc.etc.) Once you have that established, start from the basics and bulid your way up. Also, the more effectively you relate Objectivism to the AP student's life, the more persuasive and interesting your speech will be to your classmates (if that's one of your goals).

The content for this speech should come "naturally" so to speak--that is to say, the preparation and motivation is already inside of you, you just have to discover it. Ask yourself why you study Objectivism...what has it done for you...why do you continue to study it? etc.

Good luck :ninja:

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Oh, and if it's allowed, a Q&A at the end would be nice, which would also test your current understanding of O.

If and only if, you think you are prepared enough to debate with the Kantians, Chrisitians, nihilists, etc, and convince others that Objectivism is logically superior. Otherwise, it's not worth it. You do not want to test you current understand of Objectivism through a public debate, unless you have a very good understanding of it. You can debate in private with just about anyone to test your understanding.

I am a sophmore and would probably pick Objectivism if I had to do a similar project. If I ended up debating someone, as I often do, I would probably not be able to explain my position well enough to the other person to convey my ideas. I usually think of exactly what I want to say about five minutes after the person left. This would be disastrous in a public setting. If you think you can do it- great! But don't do it just to add time or test your ability to debate. You and Objectivism may end up the laughing stock of the school.

Good luck!


Ps: When is this due?

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Thanks for the replies, guys. My speech is on May 6, along with an 8-10 page research paper on the topic, which will be no problem. All I have to do is condense Peikoff's 400+ page book into 10 pages covering the fundamentals. Needless to say, I have an abundance of resources.

I agree that a Q&A may not be a good idea. My teacher can be a real ass, as I have found when I present my views on the topics of our 'Socratic Seminars.' She always comes up with some witty, and generally illogical, quip that would take a rather lengthy debate to refute. So I think I will avoid a formal Q&A and just answer any questions they feel compelled to ask at the end. Obviously I can't say, "Sorry, I don't want to answer any questions because I don't feel like it and am likely incapable of elaborating on anything I just said." I will just have to do my best to prepare myself beforehand.

Of course, there are some religious people in the class, so I'm sure that the atheism part will be met with a little silent backlash, but I'm fairly confident that I can explain my position fully. I recognize, though, that many of them will be unwilling to accept my explanation, so I won't put too much effort into persuading them to reject God. That is not my goal, nor is it to my best interest to turn everyone against me.

I won't explain any other philosophies, such as Kant's or Plato's, because none of them will have the faintest clue what I'm referring to. Perhaps I will present examples of how some of these philosophies affect them, such as Ayn Rand did in Philosophy: Who Needs It. I think that this, along with the explanation of Objectivism will do the job of refuting other philosophies just fine on their own.

I even emailed Dr. Peikoff asking for any advice he could offer. I know I probably don't have a chance in hell of getting a reply, but I thought it couldn't hurt. Lecture pointers from the best in the world would be pure gold to me. I'll definitely let you guys know if he replies. Thanks again!

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I suggest that, before giving your speech, you work on condensing some responses to common criticisms that you are likely to face the Q&A portion. Saying that you "don't feel like" answering the criticism is neglecting a part of your assignment, and makes it appear as if it is a valid criticism of Objectivism but that you are going to be closed-minded towards anything critical.

A good way to do this is to make sure you do not accept the inaccurate premise that the questioner is basing his criticism on. For example, if somebody were to ask "If everybody were selfish, then wouldn't eveybody steal from each other?", don't accept the premise that theft is virtuous to a rational egoist. Your response should be something such as, "Why is opposing property rights beneficial to somebody who acts selfishly?"

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  • 4 weeks later...

Here's the research paper I wrote for my lecture. It's ten pages long, so free up some time if you want to read it. Let me know what you think!

Note: The citations are not yet complete. I will replace the in-text temporary citations with MLA fomat ones very soon. The sources of all quotes have been incompletely labeled, and are all either by Rand or Peikoff.


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