Friday, January 07, 2011
If you haven't stopped by Leonard Peikoff's Q&A for some time, you might be pleasantly surprised by the much-improved format of the site. I think the webmaster made that change some time ago, but I'll mention it now anyway, if only to belatedly voice my appreciation.
I'm much more the reader than the listener, and generally download podcasts that interest me for later listening at times that I'm not actually on the Internet (and not in the mood to listen to music). So I typically check the site every week or so, download any new full episodes, and listen to a batch at some indeterminate future date.
Each episode typically features multiple questions. While it is always fun to see what Peikoff will address on any given day, I often learn about something I'd never thought of before, or find myself wishing I had a ready way to be able to go back to a given topic at some time in the future. I wished at the outset that there were an index to the topics covered, and a new feature of the site -- individual questions -- helps quite a bit in that regard, with the aid of a search engine.
The new format also provides a benefit to anyone who might be strapped for time, or have a specific question that might have been covered already, or wants to enjoy the give-and-take, but doesn't have fifteen minutes or more to spare at a given stray moment. Without further ado, I'll list a few individual questions I've particularly enjoyed as a result of being able to search or browse through the subject matter. I present them in no particular order.
- How do you explain the concepts of "religion" and "God" to pre-school-aged children?
- What is the thinking error in the following: "Good is completely intolerant of evil. Evil requires only the slightest compromise of principles to take over. It follows, therefore, that if we had a perfect civilization but the slightest lapse of mental focus took place, that lapse would threaten the whole civilization."
- If an individual was once hostile and harmful to Objectivism, but has since changed his opinion, should he now be accepted by Objectivism as a friend and ally?
- Do you plan to read either of the new Ayn Rand biographies? -- Notably, Peikoff debunks one recent biographer's deliberate implication that she was, personally, "granted access" to the (publicly-available) archives at the Ayn Rand Institute.
- What is your opinion of Objectivist clubs and advocacy groups on the internet?
- If I pay partial -- but not full -- attention to something, is that an evasion of reality? -- This is a good answer to a question someone new to Objectivism or unfamiliar with it might have.
- I have a friend who regulates the photos she puts up on Facebook, worrying that other people will deem her unprofessional. By creating a selective reality isn't she really distorting her picture? -- Ditto here, but I have to admit smiling when Peikoff says, "This is not a confessional." This is a perfect summary of the answer. That said, listen to the whole thing.
- Can two Objectivists disagree about a particular point without one of them being cast out of Objectivist society?
- What is a good approach for Objectivists to take in order to build consensus among themselves on any particular issue or topic? -- In the same vein as with the Facebook quote, I love, "Why do you want a consensus?" Again, context is crucial to appreciating this.