facebook twitter rss

Objectivism Through Induction

This course defines a new method of learning Objectivism. It is the method Ayn Rand herself employed to discover her philosophy — the only method (in her words) of discovering and validating principles in any field: induction. “OTI” is designed to enhance and solidify your understanding of Objectivism, whatever your level of knowledge is. In Dr. Peikoff’s words: “The inductive approach works. It moves the student from the realm of words to the realm of factual data.”

Induction, in essence, is generalization from perceptual experience. (Deduction is the application of a generalization to particular cases.) Such generalization is at once the best-and least-known form of cognition. Because it is indispensable to human learning, it is practiced daily and is in a sense obvious to everyone. Because of the deficiency of philosophers, however, induction is the cognitive method least grasped or defined. Methods not known consciously and explicitly are not within one’s control and cannot be relied on to produce accurate results.

This course helps remedy that problem. It answers some of the central questions about inductive methodology, and shows how to use the method to reach and validate several of the key principles of Objectivism. These questions include: inducing a philosophic principle, how does one know where — from what perceptual experiences — to start? When are observations sufficient to warrant a generalization? How does one integrate principles learned out of order, so that the end result is not scattered truths, but a systematic philosophy?

In each case, Dr. Peikoff asks: “Can a person learn this item directly from observable facts, through induction, without the benefit of any other knowledge of Objectivism? What perceptual concretes lead to this item and in what stages? And, if other ideas are inescapable in the process, which ones, why, and how can they be learned by observation and induction?”

The goal is to enable the student to learn the principles of a valid philosophy not from books or from lectures, but independently — from reality itself. Nothing less will rescue students of philosophy, old and new, from the widespread problem of “floating abstractions.”

As applied to Objectivists, this last is the method of dealing with ideas by relating them, not primarily to reality, but to other Objectivist ideas. Because these other ideas are true, the student often has little insight into his error; he feels confident that his mental process is tied to reality when in fact it is not.

For example, if you are asked to demonstrate that “Reason is man’s basic means of survival,” what is your mind’s reaction? Do you, like Roark in his speech, focus first on the relevant concretes (food, weapons, motors, etc.)? Or do you come up with a deductive argument, such as: “Reason is man’s means of knowledge; knowledge is a necessity for action; therefore . . .”? Most students who give the latter response do not understand the issue. “OTI” will help you understand it. According to Dr. Peikoff, this course “is the best way I know of tying your ideas to reality and acquiring a real understanding of Objectivism.”


All of Leonard Peikoff’s lectures may be ordered from the Ayn Rand Bookstore via their website, or by calling them at 1-800-729-6149 (U.S. or Canada), or 1-949-222-6557 (International).