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Tips on how to study Objectivism efficiently

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Hi everyone,

I discovered Objectivism over a decade ago but I only started studying it seriously in the past few months. The reason I’m writing here is because I’m struggling with my study practice. I’m realizing that I have no idea on how to study efficiently (despite being a university graduate🤫).       

Currently, my strategy (or lack of it) is to read and reread and reread again the different material available but I feel like this isn’t working and I’m frustrated. I’m perfectly aware of the fact that understanding Objectivism completely will take me years, and I’m comfortable with that fact, but I don’t know how to proceed and I feel my current strategy isn’t paying off. 

I was thinking of making flashcards to memorize definitions and concepts but wouldn’t that just be a memorisation exercise which won’t help me understand? Would a flashcard system be helpful?    

I guess what I’m asking for is for tips or strategies on how to grasp new concepts and integrate them in an efficient manner. 


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A Guide to Effective Study, by Edwin A. Locke, sports the following contents.

Part I. Study Methods

1.  Introduction
2.  What is Studying?
3.  How To Do Abstract Reading
4.  How To Do Abstract Integrative Reading
5.  How To Identify and Designate What Is Important
6.  How To Program Your Memory: The Nature of Memory
7.  How To Program Your Memory: Specific Techniques
8.  The Physical Context of Study
9.  The Social Context of Study
10. How To Manage Time
11. How To Take Lecture Notes
12. How To Prepare For and Take Exams
13. Study Monitoring

Part II. Study Motivation

14. Motives for Going to Col3ege
15. How to Cope with Fatigue and Boredom
16. Blocks to Mental Effort
17. How To Cope with Test Anxiety
18. How To Cope with "Failure"
19. Motivational Monitoring
20. Autobiographical Portraits of Two Self-Motivated Students.

Here is a breakdown of the bold type headings:

3. How To Do Abstract Reading

Techniques of Abstract Reading

Establish the Proper Mental Set
Formulate the Ideas in Your Own Words
Form General Mental Images
Break Down The Material Into Smaller Units

Common Errors in Abstract Reading

"Cheating" on Yourself

The Problem of Time



Evaluating You Answers

While this book may be out of print, Study Methods & Motivation: A Practical Guide to Effective Study by Edwin A. Locke is listed over at the Ayn Rand Instititue e-store, and is likely a revamped version.

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Welcome to Objectivism Online, Carl Leduc. I was wondering, given your university, whether you are bilingual French/English. Also, if you read both well, would you say there has been a good translation of Atlas Shrugged into French?


This is only a sidebar to your question, Carl, but I do not agree with the idea that understanding Objectivism completely takes years. I know that the philosophy can go on and on, effectively endlessly, in the different traditional and new philosophical questions it can be developed to tackle. And on and on in detailed scholarly comparisons with other philosophies. And on and on in the ‘philosophy of x’, where x stands for the various special areas of knowledge such as mathematics and the various sciences.

Objectivism itself—considering Rand’s writings she chose to publish as well as subsequent works by competent expositors in this close period beyond Rand’s life—can be thought to be of various sizes it seems to me. The first size would be simply what all is in the novel Atlas Shrugged (mainly Galt’s Speech, with its organized conceptual progression). In my own estimation, anyone fully understanding what is said in that book alone understands Objectivism. Everything further, fine and fascinating as it is concerning the philosophy set out there, is inessential to Objectivism insofar as the further work delineates the philosophy at all beyond what was said in that book.

It has been my experience that people interested in learning more of the philosophy beyond what they could or did find in Atlas are somewhat above average general intelligence, usually at least one standard deviation above. Seekers of more, in my encounters with them, were seldom genuinely seeking to get something clarified they had found in Atlas nor figure out what good applications the book and its philosophy might have for making their own life. Rather, they were reaching for additional intellectual adventures and realms stemmed from aspects of the Atlas one.

There are two books beyond Atlas that present the philosophy, in its larger, more luxurious size, in an organized way. So to a great extent, these present the philosophy with the integration needed for integrated understanding of it. Those are Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand and The Blackwell Companion to Ayn Rand.


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30 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

There are two books beyond Atlas that present the philosophy, in its larger, more luxurious size, in an organized way. So to a great extent, these present the philosophy with the integration needed for integrated understanding of it. Those are Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand and The Blackwell Companion to Ayn Rand.

Absolutely agree.


Additionally, for those wanting to delve further into ethics and values I have to recommend Tara Smith (professional philosopher) and her works Viable Values and Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics.  Her writing is exceptionally clear, succinct, and her razor sharp logic is as flawless as humanly possible.

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Thank you for the warm welcome and lengthy reply Stephen. 

Although my native tongue is French and all my education was done in that language, the majority of the litterature I read is in English. Therefore, I have only read Atlas Shrugged in English, though I’m realizing it might be profitable for me to read it in French to see if the integration process unfolds differently.    

I’ll make sure to concentrate my attention to Galt’s Speech. I was waiting to reread Atlas Shrugged until I finish other readings/lectures I had planned.    

The reason I want to grasp Objectivism is mostly because I want to be able to communicate it to others (another battle I’ll take on once I have a sufficient/satisfying grip of the philosophy).        

I have read OPAR multiple times but I will definitely purchase the Companion to Ayn Rand in the coming days. I have just ordered A Guide to Effective Study which was suggested by Greg in his reply.    



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