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When I was a freshman in high school, my English teacher required us to read Anthem. We also had to read The Giver (basically about a totalitarian society). The idea was to read about two opposing political ideas and write about which one we agree with.

In college, I had a Computer Science professor who taught a class called "Internet Security." It basically taught you how to hack into computers. One part of the class was about the ethics of hacking. While we were going over that part, I was pleased to find that my professor used several Ayn Rand quotes during his lectures.

Those were my only two encounters with Objectivism in the classroom. Politically, the vast majority of my professors were collectivist liberals (big surprise).

So I was just curious if anyone else had the privilege of being taught by an Objectivist professor?

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Well I cannot confirm that he was an Objectivist but my Economics professor at community college was a great advocate of Capitalism, free trade and the gold standard. He was always telling us how the market would fix itself without government intervention. He was also funny and a great professor.

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Second semester of my Freshman year at college (currently a Junior), my writing teacher started her first class with an assignment to read & summarize several articles she gave us and then write a response. Several of the articles were from CATO. I'm not sure if she was an Objectivist, or just a free-market conservative (we did agree a lot on politics), but she was one of the few (outwardly) conservative/non-liberal teachers I had on ANY grade level, especially in college.

I ended up doing my final writing assignment on the merits of free trade.

I also had a High School English/Film study teacher who actually lamented about the loss of capitalism in the United States -- now he was cool. We watched a fantastic chinese film called "To Live" about the evil regime the PRC imposed on its people.

Edited by Captain Nate
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Probably the worst I had was my economics teacher, where I debated her on the issue of farm subsidies. She argued that without farm subsidies, all the farms would be close down and factories would be built on them, and then we'd have no food in case of a shortage or a war. After which it would be impossible to grow food again because we covered all the good farm land with factories. :confused:

I eventually brought in all these examples of a nation that lowered their subsidies (I think it was New Zealand?) and rather than shrink their agricultural industry boomed. I never got to use this evidence though, because the topic never came up again.

Edited by Captain Nate
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I was rereading the Fountainhead in the library one time and one of the science teachers came up to me, took the book out of my hands, looked at it, then gave it back to me. He asked me why I was reading 'extreme Facist propaganda' on school property; I told him that I was free to read what I wanted and that The Fountainhead was anything but Facist propaganda.

A few days later in the halls he asked to speak to me. I was confused at first because I didn't have him as a teacher, but he led me into his room and gave me a stack of papers, then continued teaching his current class. I took a look at the papers since I had a free period and it turned out they were all Facist documents. They were horribly disgusting, explaining the principles of Facism.

Now here's the kicker: my friends tell me the teacher isn't a Facist. So I guess that he was trying to turn me off Facism (Not that I needed help).

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I read Anthem in a high school English class as well. It was not because the teacher was an Objectivist, but because the book was on the school district's curriculum. We studied it with an emphasis on writing style instead of content.

The closest I've ever come is my current academic advisor (who is a professor in the Philosophy Department) having a copy of OPAR on her shelf. When I commented on it, she chuckled and said something about capitalism being an economic system and not an ethics system. She told me that she bought the book in graduate school when Objectivism was the current trend.

Probably the worst I had was my economics teacher, where I debated her on the issue of farm subsidies. She argued that without farm subsidies, all the farms would be close down and factories would be built on them, and then we'd have no food in case of a shortage or a war. After which it would be impossible to grow food again because we covered all the good farm land with factories. 

That's ridiculous. There are some issues (such as farm subsidies) that I thought everybody with even the slightest bit of economics education would understand are bad policies.

Edited by Cole
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I also had a High School English/Film study teacher who actually lamented about the loss of capitalism in the United States -- now he was cool. We watched a fantastic chinese film called "To Live" about the evil regime the PRC imposed on its people.

Are you talking about the film by Akira Kurosawa? Made in like, the 1950's?

I personally go to a "conservative university" that's at least what everyone says. I am a writing major and I have yet to find one teacher in the creative writing dept. who is not a liberal or complete irrational. There may be one teacher who is rational and/or conservative (I've spotted him at several symphonies--he's a big fan of Rachmaninoff and is from texas) but he mostly teaches poetry and hard core english lit classes which I don't take.

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Are you talking about the film by Akira Kurosawa?  Made in like, the 1950's?

No, it's a 1994 film (http://imdb.com/title/tt0110081/). It follows the story of a family from the Civil War through the Cultural Revolution and beyond.

It's actually very good, and very frightening, imagining what actual people suffered through in the PRC.

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  • 8 months later...
Not yet. One day, I'll take a class from Gary Hull (he teaches at the university I'm probably going to).

Stephen Cox taught at the university I went to. I could have taken a humanities course from him but chose not to. Cox isn't an Objectivist; I gather he's more "Objectivish". He's written a few items on literary theory that are sold by TOC.

(Oddly enough, I didn't know any of that at the time -- I just chose not to take a course from him because I didn't like what little I saw of his teaching style -- energetic but unstructured. Based on the Introduction he wrote for Isobel Paterson's God of the Machine, which I read recently, his thought processes mirror his teaching.)

The one time I mentioned Rand to a teacher during my brief stint in graduate school, she seemed to put her in the same bucket as C.S. Lewis -- a writer popular with certain kinds of intelligent laypeople, but lacking serious scholarly depth.

My high school history teacher had read Rand, but I think he was some kind of conservative. He presented Watergate as a breakdown of the justice system, and said explicitly that "Nixon got screwed." Certainly an unorthodox approach to U.S. history. (Overall the course was excellent -- taught chronologically, with continuing reference to primary source material as a control for bias in the secondary literature. Naturally, the school fired him the year after I took his class. My own high school education was pretty good, but it's amazing thinking back on how many of the good teachers I had were no longer there by the time I graduated. I think I made it through just prior to an inflection point in the decline of the school.)

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I go to Rollins College, recently ranked number one among regional universities in the south, and was really excited to take some philosophy courses, having heard great things about the department. When I finally got the chance to speak with the department head (who has published numerous academic writings, and is, I later discovered, a very big fan of Rawls) I asked his opinion of Ayn Rand. His response was a shrug and a comment that was slightly demeaning and, even more appalling, indicating an ignorance on the subject of Objectivism! That is the closest I've come to having a teacher or professor familiar with her work. :P

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I've had some interesting variations. A small private college I went to had a professor who had read some Rand. He said that her philosophy ultimately rested on the good of society, since what she professes ultimately leads to the common good. . .or something like that. It's hard for me to remember exactly what he said since it was years back. (nevertheless, I remembered it being an egregious interpretation of her philosophy)

I have one philosophy professor who is an egoist---but I'd categorize him more as a "deterministic egoist." He believes that all voluntary actions are in our self-interest b/c we choose to do them. "Even mother theresa," he said, "is an egoist."

Edited by Nxixcxk
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I have one philosophy professor who is an egoist---but I'd categorize him more as a "deterministic egoist." He believes that all voluntary actions are in our self-interest b/c we choose to do them. "Even mother theresa," he said, "is an egoist."

That sounds like the doctrine of psychological egoism to me. The basic idea is that nobody does anything that they don't in some sense want to do, which means that everybody is unavoidable an egoism.

There are two obvious problems here. The first one is that if everybody is always and unavoidably an egoist, then egoism has no moral significance because it is outside the scope of human volition. The second problem is the implicit assumption that our self-interest is defined by what we want to do, i.e. that satisfying desires is the standard of self-interest. That's a primacy-of-consciousness view, obviously incompatible with Objectivism.

I think Nathaniel Branden took a few shots at this in the essay "Isn't Everyone Selfish?" in The Virtue of Selfishness.

This concludes our brief digression into philosophical critique. We now return you to your regularly scheduled discussion of teachers you have encountered who were familiar with Rand and/or Objectivism.

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