Mike Renzulli

Objectivist Lectures

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As many of you may know I head an Objectivist philosophy group. When I first formed it we listened to Nathaniel Branden's Basic Principles of Objectivism lecture series.

Now that we are done, we are moving on to other series.

However, the problem is is that, unfortunately, TAS seems to be limited in their selection of pre-recorded lectures available for sale. I have been to ARI's Ayn Rand Bookstore and they have selections galore about almost every topic alot of which sound fascinating to say the least.

I have bought some CD's from ARB but would rather buy from TAS since, while they have got their act together, I would rather not give money to ARI. The frustrating thing is not only the variety but also the limited amounts of subjects TAS has too. The advantage TAS lectures have over ARI are (aside from the fact that TAS lectures are also very well done) that they are not as expensive.

Can anyone enlighten me and others on these boards as to what alternative lectures to ARI's courses exist that TAS has produced could be used as alternatives and are equal subject and content wise?

For example, at Objectivism Bookstore it has a lecture called Atlas Shrugged as a Philisophical Novel while Ayn Rand Bookstore has a lecture that seems to be similar called Atlas Shrugged as a Work of Philosophy.

I am sure, over time, TAS will have more lectures available. If they do, I hope that they will make up for the lack of subjects.

Edited by Mike Renzulli

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You would do well to just buy the ARI stuff you are interested in. Don't let the schismism interfere with your studies.

Shayne

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I will consider it, Shayne. Thanks!

I have found a few more lectures of interest on the subject of science that seem to be compatible with ARI ones.

For example, at Objectivism Store there is a Symposium on Cognitive Science series that seems to be compatible with some things Harry Binswanger has done and another on Objectivism and the Philosophy of Science that are along the lines to lectures done by either Keith Lockitch or Harry Binswanger.

You would do well to just buy the ARI stuff you are interested in. Don't let the schismism interfere with your studies.

Shayne

Edited by Mike Renzulli

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As many of you may know I head an Objectivist philosophy group. When I first formed it we listened to Nathaniel Branden's Basic Principles of Objectivism lecture series.

Now that we are done, we are moving on to other series.

However, the problem is is that, unfortunately, TAS seems to be limited in their selection of pre-recorded lectures available for sale. I have been to ARI's Ayn Rand Bookstore and they have selections galore about almost every topic alot of which sound fascinating to say the least.

I have bought some CD's from ARB but would rather buy from TAS since, while they have got their act together, I would rather not give money to ARI. The frustrating thing is not only the variety but also the limited amounts of subjects TAS has too. The advantage TAS lectures have over ARI are (aside from the fact that TAS lectures are also very well done) that they are not as expensive.

Can anyone enlighten me and others on these boards as to what alternative lectures to ARI's courses exist that TAS has produced could be used as alternatives and are equal subject and content wise?

For example, at Objectivism Bookstore it has a lecture called Atlas Shrugged as a Philisophical Novel while Ayn Rand Bookstore has a lecture that seems to be similar called Atlas Shrugged as a Work of Philosophy.

I am sure, over time, TAS will have more lectures available. If they do, I hope that they will make up for the lack of subjects.

Mike -

I don't know about the issue of performance rights, which we have discussed elsewhere, and should be checked out for any particular audio/video lecture series.

However, I'd suggest, after BPOE:

The Principles of Efficient Thinking, by Barbara Branden (I believe I purchased this through the old Laissez Faire Book Service - check the folks who took over for them)

Peikoff's History of Western Philosophy series (ARI)

Rand's lectures on Faith and Force and The Objectivist Ethics are highly recommended. YOu could consider the series of her Ford Hall Forum talks, also. (ARI)

SHort series: David Kelley's Perennial Questions of Objectivism (TAS)

Your group might find Eric Daniels' series on the History of America interesting. (ARI)

I know, most of these are ARI.

Alfonso

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Thanks for the recommendations, Alfonso.

I don't know about the issue of performance rights, which we have discussed elsewhere, and should be checked out for any particular audio/video lecture series.

However, I'd suggest, after BPOE:

The Principles of Efficient Thinking, by Barbara Branden (I believe I purchased this through the old Laissez Faire Book Service - check the folks who took over for them)

Peikoff's History of Western Philosophy series (ARI)

Rand's lectures on Faith and Force and The Objectivist Ethics are highly recommended. YOu could consider the series of her Ford Hall Forum talks, also. (ARI)

SHort series: David Kelley's Perennial Questions of Objectivism (TAS)

Your group might find Eric Daniels' series on the History of America interesting. (ARI)

I know, most of these are ARI.

Alfonso

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Mike,

I don't know if a computer can be hooked up where you guys meet (and I am only suggesting this if the meeting is private), but if you register with the ARI website (it's free), you get a lot of free lectures, both audio and video. Some are even by Rand, especially some of her Ford Hall Forum talks. I am a member (and am duly grateful).

If you want to listen to the lectures and discuss them, I think that is one of the reasons they are there. ARI has even put some of them on YouTube. I think listening to Rand herself speak, then discussing her speech, is a very good way of assimilating her ideas.

One word of advice (and a hat-tip to Steve "Greybird" for this). These lectures are in a form called streaming audio or streaming video. You need RealPlayer to play them. It's free, but RealPlayer is a big fat honking hog program that not only likes to take over your computer, but likes to fill it full of ads. I hate this kind of intrusive crap.

If you do a Google check for "Real Alternative," you can download the open source program that plays streaming stuff and is a gazillion times better (and faster). It will install a program on your desktop called Medial Player Classic (do not confuse with Windows Mediaplayer) and works perfectly.

So I suggest you guys get together, fire up a laptop and broadband connection, sign in and get down.

I am not suggesting you do not buy ARI stuff (or TAS stuff for that matter). On the contrary, ARI has a lot of good stuff to listen to. But if times get hard, at least you can keep your group going this way to get over the humps.

Michael

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Mike,

I don't know if a computer can be hooked up where you guys meet (and I am only suggesting this if the meeting is private), but if you register with the ARI website (it's free), you get a lot of free lectures, both audio and video. Some are even by Rand, especially some of her Ford Hall Forum talks. I am a member (and am duly grateful).

If you want to listen to the lectures and discuss them, I think that is one of the reasons they are there. ARI has even put some of them on YouTube. I think listening to Rand herself speak, then discussing her speech, is a very good way of assimilating her ideas.

One word of advice (and a hat-tip to Steve "Greybird" for this). These lectures are in a form called streaming audio or streaming video. You need RealPlayer to play them. It's free, but RealPlayer is a big fat honking hog program that not only likes to take over your computer, but likes to fill it full of ads. I hate this kind of intrusive crap.

If you do a Google check for "Real Alternative," you can download the open source program that plays streaming stuff and is a gazillion times better (and faster). It will install a program on your desktop called Medial Player Classic (do not confuse with Windows Mediaplayer) and works perfectly.

So I suggest you guys get together, fire up a laptop and broadband connection, sign in and get down.

I am not suggesting you do not buy ARI stuff (or TAS stuff for that matter). On the contrary, ARI has a lot of good stuff to listen to. But if times get hard, at least you can keep your group going this way to get over the humps.

Michael

A couple of thoughts:

1) If you rely on streaming audio, realize that your meeting may grind to a screeching halt if there is a problem with either the internet between you and the ARI serverss, or with the ARI servers.

2) Also, you will be dependent on your own computer.

So, you have a triple dependency on your computer, ARI's servers and the internet.

I speak from bitter experience as an educator who likes to use the occasional piece of video/audio in class. I have learned that it is best to have that video/audio on my hard drive or a DVD (with HD being preferable, backed up to DVD). It's no fun to have 65 executives in a room and be trying to deal with intermittent Internet outages or delays.

It's just a matter of reliability.

Now, as for "who." I think my list above indicates a bit of my sense on that issue. I would like to reinforce one more matter. Rand was always the best exponent of her own ideas. When she wanted to she could cut to the quick of an issue. She was a model of clarity. Watch some of the available videos - and see how she was able to grab an audience and speak as if to each person in the audience, individually. Compelling. You've already done the NB series BPOE. I highly recommend the Principles of Effective Thinking by BB. Of the Peikoff - my rule of thumb is that - usually, the earlier the better. My assessment of the pre-1982 Peikoff material is that it is usually superior to post-1982.

That's my opinion,

Alfonso

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**The Unparalleled Value of the Peikoff Courses**

Peikoff's courses in the decade or more before Rand's death -- (these are not the exact titles, but the subjects) History of Philosophy, Logic, Grammar, Oral Communication, Written Communication, Objectivism, Understanding Objectivism -- were quite simply not merely the finest courses on Objectivism or on "Applications" ever given, but *the finest courses I ever took*.

They were like clarity, importance, and sunlight in a dark room after the execrable crap and besotted trivia and mental masturbation I was exposed to in college.

Each one was a major intellectual event in my life and extended or expanded on the standard Objectivist essays by Rand and others.

My understanding is that he had Rand's help with those courses. After 1982, she was no longer around. I don't have as good a feel for the courses of the last two decades. (Nor do I have a feel for the NBI courses, which were before my time.)

But, even without Rand, Peikoff is a brilliant teacher with an insightful, analytical mind, a flair for language, and an encyclopedic knowledge of a wide range of issues. He always gives example after example, does case studies, considers objections.

And (most misunderstood of all by students of the philosophy who fail to grasp it and too often think he is 'oversimplifying') he essentializes, gives the big picture on all sorts of issues.

The problem is the ridiculous prices - it's as if they wanted to limit demand, limit sales and --- most important of all --- limit the number of people who have the broad and deep understanding of Objectivism and its applications to a range of issues those courses provided.

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I appreciate it, Phil and thanks! I have no doubt Leonard Peikoff is as brilliant a write and lecturer as you say since, after having read some of his tracts on Objectivism its clear he knows his stuff. However, it is not the prices of the products you point out that matter to me as much as it is identifying which of his courses would be the most useful (which I am sure all of them are) but also to avoid the possbility of buying lectures that do essentially the same thing.

For example, Peikoff's advanced course on OPAR seems to be similar to Objectivism: State of the Art.

I want to get as good an education as possible but do not want to end up buying CD lectures that essentially say the same thing (not to say Peikoff or ARI would do this intentionally).

FWIW, I do have Barbara Branden's Principles of Efficient Thinking.

**The Unparalleled Value of the Peikoff Courses**

Peikoff's courses in the decade or more before Rand's death -- (these are not the exact titles, but the subjects) History of Philosophy, Logic, Grammar, Oral Communication, Written Communication, Objectivism, Understanding Objectivism -- were quite simply not merely the finest courses on Objectivism or on "Applications" ever given, but *the finest courses I ever took*.

The problem is the ridiculous prices - it's as if they wanted to limit demand, limit sales and --- most important of all --- limit the number of people who have the broad and deep understanding of Objectivism and its applications to a range of issues those courses provided.

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Thanks very much, Michael! I will consider your points and appreciate your input. I also agree with you about Real Player too.

Mike,

I don't know if a computer can be hooked up where you guys meet (and I am only suggesting this if the meeting is private), but if you register with the ARI website (it's free), you get a lot of free lectures, both audio and video. Some are even by Rand, especially some of her Ford Hall Forum talks. I am a member (and am duly grateful).

If you want to listen to the lectures and discuss them, I think that is one of the reasons they are there. ARI has even put some of them on YouTube. I think listening to Rand herself speak, then discussing her speech, is a very good way of assimilating her ideas.

One word of advice (and a hat-tip to Steve "Greybird" for this). These lectures are in a form called streaming audio or streaming video. You need RealPlayer to play them. It's free, but RealPlayer is a big fat honking hog program that not only likes to take over your computer, but likes to fill it full of ads. I hate this kind of intrusive crap.

If you do a Google check for "Real Alternative," you can download the open source program that plays streaming stuff and is a gazillion times better (and faster). It will install a program on your desktop called Medial Player Classic (do not confuse with Windows Mediaplayer) and works perfectly.

So I suggest you guys get together, fire up a laptop and broadband connection, sign in and get down.

I am not suggesting you do not buy ARI stuff (or TAS stuff for that matter). On the contrary, ARI has a lot of good stuff to listen to. But if times get hard, at least you can keep your group going this way to get over the humps.

Michael

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>it is not the prices of the products...as much as it is identifying which of his courses would be the most useful (which I am sure all of them are) but also to avoid the possbility of buying lectures that do essentially the same thing.

Mike, while OPAR covers much the same material as his philosophy of Objectivism course, the other courses I listed are not duplicated elsewhere and don't really overlap. A lot of them are not on Oism but on a topic like Logic, Grammar, etc. I've read entire books on some of these topics and Peikoff still treats them in a very valuable and innovative way, cuts thru the fog, etc.

I found each of the course enormously useful as just possessing the knowledge (and the process of analysis) in each of these areas is immensely more useful than just having abstract philosophy alone.

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It is worth noting on the ARI material there is a strong notice that purchase of these items does not grant the right to play them without ARI's permission.

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Hm! I don't recall seeing that disclaimer but it does not surprise me in a way. Thanks for pointing this out.

It is worth noting on the ARI material there is a strong notice that purchase of these items does not grant the right to play them without ARI's permission.
Edited by Mike Renzulli

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Thanks again, Phil. FYI everyone! As it turns out some of the ARI lectures that can be bought on CD or tape can also be bought online for viewing too.

I have seen a couple of Leonard Peikoff lectures at the Ayn Rand Bookstore that can be bought for viewing online for a little over $100. The only catch is that you will have access to them for a year.

>it is not the prices of the products...as much as it is identifying which of his courses would be the most useful (which I am sure all of them are) but also to avoid the possbility of buying lectures that do essentially the same thing.

Mike, while OPAR covers much the same material as his philosophy of Objectivism course, the other courses I listed are not duplicated elsewhere and don't really overlap. A lot of them are not on Oism but on a topic like Logic, Grammar, etc. I've read entire books on some of these topics and Peikoff still treats them in a very valuable and innovative way, cuts thru the fog, etc.

I found each of the course enormously useful as just possessing the knowledge (and the process of analysis) in each of these areas is immensely more useful than just having abstract philosophy alone.

Edited by Mike Renzulli

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> It is worth noting on the ARI material there is a strong notice that purchase of these items does not grant the right to play them without ARI's permission.

Chris, this is not correct the way you worded it. (If you had something else in mind, it would be best to quote it exactly as opposed to an approximation.)

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Mike; The notice I refer to is given at the end of each recording. Phil is correct but listen to lecture recording to get the correct wording of the strong warning. I think ARI would not be happy with using the Branden or TOC courses in your series.

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I've mentioned the prices before, and also that there are very few that you can download and listen on your MP3 player.

Compare this to the Von Mises Institute which makes all of their stuff free on the web.

I do note that the ARI has made more stuff available for free lately.

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**ARI's short-term thinking**

High prices for courses is short-term thinking in a number of ways: You want to build a base of young people who are enthusiastic, will spread the ideas, bring in more customers, be repeat customers -- not try to charge all the traffic will bear for one and only one lecture.

You are presumably trying to spread the ideas and make a living from this in the long term...not merely make money from a handful of people in the short term.

Make it up on volume - better to have a thousand students paying $20 each for an item than a hundred students paying $200 each because of the "multiplier effect".

Especially with ideas, you want to get them out there and that gives you a 'name'. Not limit the access by overcharging.

And, of course, young people in h.s or college or twenties often are at exactly the point in their lives where they have more time (to think, to learn, to study, to adopt a philosophy) than they do money.

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I suspect that ARI's high prices (like NBI's decades ago) are a straightforward application of the concept of elasticity of demand - the extent to which people's buying behavior will change in response to price changes. Airline tickets are much more expensive a day or two before the flight than they are two months in advance because the last-minute flyers are business travelers who really need to get to their destination, while the advance buyers are vacationers who can stay home or go someplace within driving distance. Show tickets are cheaper for the elderly, even though they have more money to spend, because they don't want to go out to a show as urgently as college students do. And so on.

The audience for these lectures is the hard core, already converted and already committed, quite willing to pay these prices. I seriously doubt that there is some huge potential audience out there waiting for the price to come down. The newcomers read Rand's books, and if they want to follow up they eventually discover ARI or TAS. If ARI dropped its prices by half, they might see a five percent increase in sales. Run the numbers and you get 52.5% of current revenues. Methinks this is why so much of Objectivism, for so long, has been for sale as audios rather than in print.

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Reidy,

I assume the ARI has done the math, but a 50% cut in prices would no doubt lead to a much greater than 5% increase in sales. I suspect the high prices "turn off" a lot of potential supporters as well.

ARI types have been publishing a bit more lately.

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**It's ELASTIC, not Inelastic, ferchrissake**

> I suspect that ARI's high prices (like NBI's decades ago) are a straightforward application of the concept of elasticity of demand - the extent to which people's buying behavior will change in response to price changes. The audience for these lectures is the hard core, already converted and already committed, quite willing to pay these prices.

That's -because- the prices are so high: If they are much lower, then the audience –expands to- a far larger, different comparable to those who listen to podcasts, buy audiotapes today, listen to university courses while driving – an audience which includes the experimental, the curious, the young on a tight budget. Not just the hard core.

> I seriously doubt that there is some huge potential audience out there waiting for the price to come down.

Well, it seems clear, that there is always a potential audience of huge size for quality - unless one is a cynic. Especially in a culture when the intellectual material is so often such crap. And for this reason there is a pent-up hunger for a new philosophy, for clear ideas, for rational uncluttered explanations opening new windows.

The audience for Rand's books, fiction and non-fiction, expanding across the decades, for material at affordable "paperback" prices suggests the huge audience for material of quality: an audience an order of magnitude larger than that for the tapes.

Another manifestation of an increased audience overlooked in this short-range calculation would be an increased -repeat- or expanded audience. Just as an example, suppose you lower the price of one of Peikoff's courses from $200-$400( say $300) to one sixth the price (say $50). The following happens: Maybe in the short term your customers only double or triple, which means you have lost money. But among those are people who are buying their first Peikoff series or their first ARI audio products and who will thereby spark a life-long interest which would not otherwise have occurred:

1) Since those course are so well-done, the odds are that over a period of years most will buy five or ten more (which makes up very quickly for the $300 - $50 = $240) EVEN WITH NO INCREASE IN NEW CUSTOMERS.

And they *become* first, dedicated and second, knowledgeable Objectivists:

2) The first means they become customers for mutliple summer conferences, at a thousand dollars a pop.

3) The second means they are more persuasive, more able to answer objections .... and thus get at least one or two -other- people interested who then become customers, creating further sales down the road some years

4) A tiny handful become 'new intellectuals' which they wouldn't have otherwise, which is a further multiplier effect.

And results in the sales of more tapes, more courses, more summer conferences.

And, oh yes, it's not just about the money but about SPREADING OBJECTIVISM. Which happens when you have MORE people buying the tapes.

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The solution, in due course of time, to the demand-curve conundrum, and the limitations of the Objectivist oral culture, lies in two words:

Kira Peikoff.

Leonard's daughter, when the inevitable time of probate comes, is unlikely to particularly care about who buys, or "honors," or hews to what her father believed. Or her father's mentor, whom she never met. She'll sell the tapes and license the rights to Rand's work strictly as a business proposition. If sales are likely to double with a 40 percent cut in prices, she'll do it. She's not tending a doctrinal flame or wanting to keep the material within the realm of the already-converted.

Even her father faced movie-production facts and sold, outright, no strings, the film rights to Atlas. More material, with time, finds its way onto Websites. The venal motives for opening the Rand archives to fuel Valliant's book have, nonetheless, set a precedent. The control-culture is cracking apart already, even if the clueless, such as Mrs. Hsieh, are behind the curve.

If you doubt that such business realism will arise someday soon on a far broader scale, I have three other words for you:

Lisa Marie Presley.

My friend Rob Morse predicted thirty years ago, when I heard Peikoff's taped Objectivist overview along with him, that the oral culture and the iron-fist control would not end until Rand and everyone who ever knew her personally had died. I was dubious, but every year has given more evidence that he was right.

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Clearly, Graybeard is psycho..psychic :-)

Whoops. He already knew I was going to say that . . . B)

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